The Voting News Daily: Don’t Blame The Supreme Court For Citizens United, Software ‘shortcoming’ led to Wellington election fiasco

Editorials: Don’t Blame The Supreme Court For Citizens United — Blame Congress, The FEC And The IRS | Huffington Post The two most controversial campaign financing practices of the post-Citizens United era aren’t actually the Supreme Court’s fault. The court’s conservative majority most certainly expected that its 2010 ruling, which granted First Amendment rights to corporations…

Editorials: Don’t Blame The Supreme Court For Citizens United — Blame Congress, The FEC And The IRS | Huffington Post

The two most controversial campaign financing practices of the post-Citizens United era aren’t actually the Supreme Court’s fault. The court’s conservative majority most certainly expected that its 2010 ruling, which granted First Amendment rights to corporations and equated money to speech, would unleash unprecedented amounts of political spending. But when people rail against Citizens United these days, they’re often complaining about two things in particular: the candidate-specific super PACs that implausibly claim to be independent of the candidates they’re backing, and the political slush funds that can accept unlimited secret donations by claiming to be issue-oriented nonprofits. Neither were inevitable byproducts of Citizens United — or a subsequent lower court ruling. They are things that could be fixed either legislatively, administratively, or both. But without a good shove, Congress, the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service all appear unlikely to pursue solutions.

California: California lawmakers vote to overturn Citizens United | CBS News

California lawmakers waded into the ongoing battle over corporate money in politics Thursday with a resolution that supports overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which has led to a flood of money from deep-pocketed donors in this year’s presidential race. “People are tired of getting beat up by a few corporations that sometimes have a fringe point of view,” said Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who introduced the resolution with Assemblymen Michael Allen, D- Santa Rosa. The Assembly passed the resolution on a 48-22 vote. It rejects the notion of corporate personhood and calls on Congress to pursue a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 decision saying corporations can spend unlimited sums to influence elections.

Florida: Dominion Voting Systems: software ‘shortcoming’ led to Wellington election fiasco | Post on Politics

The supplier of Palm Beach County’s voting and tabulating equipment says a software “shortcoming” led to votes being assigned to the wrong candidates and the elections office declaring the wrong winners in two recent Wellington council races. Ballots from the March 13 Wellington election were counted properly. But the results were matched to the wrong races. Council candidates Shauna Hostetler and Al Paglia were declared winners on election night, but an audit six days later showed John Greene and Matt Willhite had in fact gotten more votes.

Minnesota: Photo ID marches on, but critics vow litigation | San Antonio Express-News

With Minnesota legislators appearing nearly certain to send a photo ID constitutional amendment to voters, some political groups are already vowing to take legal action to prevent it from even reaching the November ballot. The measure was headed for a likely Senate floor vote Friday night, with a friendly Republican majority, after earlier passing the House. Mike Dean, executive director of the liberal group Common Cause of Minnesota, said his organization has been working with state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters to coordinate efforts on a lawsuit that goes after the ballot question’s wording. “The language being provided to voters is extremely confusing and it’s unclear what it really means,” Dean said.

Minnesota: Senate passes voter ID requirement, critics vow litigation | MPRN

Minnesota voters are steps away from seeing a photo identification constitutional amendment on the ballot. The full Senate passed the amendment Friday in a 36-30 vote after six hours of debate. The House passed the amendment Tuesday. The vote fell mostly along party lines. Every Republican except Sen. Jeremy Miller of Winona voted for the amendment. Every Democrat voted against it. The measure centers around whether voters need to prove who they are when they cast a ballot. Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said he fears some people are voting illegally and that the proposed constitutional amendment would stop it. “I think we do have voter fraud in the United States and I think we have voter fraud in Minnesota,” said Newman. “It is my belief that when someone votes who should not be voting, it has the effect of neutralizing or canceling the vote of someone who has voted legally.”

Texas: Cheating rarely seen at polls in Texas | San Antonio Express-News

Allegations of voter fraud fueled the successful push for a controversial voter ID law in Texas last year, making a picture ID necessary to vote despite scant evidence of actual cheating at the polls. Fewer than five “illegal voting” complaints involving voter impersonations were filed with the Texas Attorney General’s Office from the 2008 and 2010 general elections in which more than 13 million voters participated. The Department of Justice has deemed the law in violation of the Voting Rights Act, finding that it would disproportionately affect minorities, who are less likely to have a photo ID.

Texas: Federal judges want quick decision on legality of Texas voter ID law |

A federal three-judge panel in Washington is pushing the Justice Department and Texas lawyers to work overtime to reach a quick decision on the legality of the state’s controversial voter photo ID law. The judges made it clear they want a decision in time for Texas to be able to implement its law — provided it passes legal muster — by the November general election. “It’s a big election year. We need to get it done,” District Judge Rosemary Collyer told federal and state lawyers in a telephone conference call. The judges have conducted recent conference calls with lawyers in an open courtroom, allowing media representatives to listen to the discussions as all sides haggle over timelines of depositions and discovery. Reaching a quick decision will not be easy.

Wisconsin: Political contributions flow into Wisconsin but less of it is going to presidential candidates | Appleton Post Crescent

Wisconsin’s charged political climate has sparked an unprecedented influx of cash in state politics, but presidential candidates have not reaped the benefits of that fundraising momentum. As the state’s April 3 primary nears, the latest data shows donations from Wisconsin residents in the 2012 presidential race have plunged more than 50 percent from levels four years ago. Through the end of February, Wisconsin donations per capita are the fourth-lowest among the 50 states. The comparisons are imperfect because many primary dates shifted — Wisconsin’s was in mid-February in 2008 — but there’s no denying Wisconsin is a dramatically different state than it was in 2008, said Arnold Shober, a political science professor at Lawrence University in Appleton. “One of the drawbacks of having so much state-level activity is that those races are sucking up … campaign donations here, and I think we’re starting to see some sense of political burnout here in Wisconsin with the increased level of political vitriol,” he said. “That level of animosity has really dampened some of the enthusiasm that often goes into politics, especially in big election years like this one will be.”

Voting Blogs: The War for Wisconsin: As Photo ID Restrictions Hit Constitutional Roadblock, Hard Right Files 29 ‘Ethics Complaints’ | BradBlog

In Wisconsin, two Dane County Circuit Court judges, David Flanagan and Richard Niess both issued injunctions against the state GOP’s polling place photo ID restriction (“Act 23”) — Flanagan’s temporary, Niess’ permanent — after finding that the law was in direct violation of the WI state constitution’s guaranteed right to vote. Immediately after the first of those two injunctions, issued by Judge Flanagan in Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker, the WI GOP filed an ethics complaint with the WI Judicial Commission, alleging that the judge had violated the WI Code of Judicial Conduct because he had signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) and failed to disclose that fact before issuing his ruling. However, when Flanagan’s temporary injunction was promptly followed not only by Neiss’ permanent injunction one week later, but by a subsequent refusal by an intermediate WI appellate court to stay the temporary injunction, the hard-right, operating under another right-wing billionaire front group, the Landmark Legal Foundation, filed ethics complaints against 29 WI judges who also signed recall petitions. If you can’t beat ’em, hit ’em with ethics violations complaints…

Canada: Halifax Mayor Kelly concerned by NDP e-voting problems – will use same Spanish company in municipal election | CBC

The Halifax Regional Municipality will take a close look at the e-voting problems experienced at the federal NDP leadership convention because it is planning to use the same Spanish company in the October municipal election. Mayor Peter Kelly said ensuring the integrity of the vote in the Halifax region is of the utmost importance. “We take the voting aspect very, very seriously and I think to be fair to all parties we have to make sure there is a thorough review and investigation of this situation,”he said Sunday. “Then if there is a threat of this in the upcoming election, then we need to take that very seriously and determine the best way forward.” Scytl Secure Electronic Voting, from Spain, won the contract after underbidding Intelivote Systems Inc. of Dartmouth by more than $300,000. Intelivote provided online and telephone voting for the previous two municipal elections.

Canada: NDP says hackers caused online vote delays | CTV Edmonton

Delays in online voting at the NDP leadership convention have been blamed on hackers, with party officials saying they have found evidence of the attack. Jamey Heath, the NDP’s communications manager, said the party had managed to trace the Internet Protocol addresses of two perpetrators. “They’ve isolated it to individual IP addresses. Votes that have been cast are secure,” he said. The delays had threatened to become a full-scale public relations disaster for the party that even had some people questioning the integrity of the end result. There were lineups of more than an hour at the Metro Toronto Convention centre as the system slowed down. Eligible voters across the country were also getting online error messages.

Canada: Cyber-attack holds up cross-Canada voting for next leader of NDP | Medicine Hat News

An attempted cyber-attack on the NDP’s electronic voting system Saturday forced party officials to delay the process of choosing the next federal New Democrat leader for several hours, frustrating voters both at the convention in Toronto and across the country. Party officials insisted the integrity of the voting system was not compromised, but acknowledged that the would-be hacker managed to “mess” it up enough to cause lengthy delays. “The system has not been compromised,” said Brad Lavigne, a former party national director who was dispatched to explain the problem to reporters. “The system was not hacked. It was never even close to being hacked.” Lavigne said someone outside the party tried to get access to the system, triggering alarms that caused the system to shut down. “The analogy that can be used is that somebody was trying to break into our house and the alarm went off and the robbers were scared away.” He stopped short of suggesting someone was deliberately trying to sabotage the NDP leadership process.

China: Hong Kong election poll shot down by DDoS cyber attack | The Register

Two local men have been arrested after an online referendum organised by Hong Kong university to poll citizens on their choice of chief executive was disabled in an apparent denial of service attack. Broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported that the men, aged 17 and 28, were arrested at the weekend after the online poll was disrupted for a large part of Friday and some of Saturday. … The system has been very busy,” Robert Chung, director of the university’s program, apparently told reporters. “We suspect it is under systematic attack as there are more than one million clicks on our system every second.” Chung was reportedly reticent about the potential motive for the attack but it is well known that the Chinese authorities are not a massive fan of free speech and probably viewed the referendum as undermining the result of the real vote – the outcome of which Beijing basically controls.

China: Hong Kong Mock Vote Draws 223,000 | WSJ

A mock vote that aimed to give ordinary Hong Kong citizens a voice in today’s chief executive poll drew 223,000 votes despite an earlier cyber attack that hit the ambitious project. The Chinese territory’s top political job will be decided by a 1,200 person election committee Sunday, but that hasn’t stopped many of the city’s seven million residents taking part in the University of Hong Kong’s civil referendum project. Beijing has promised the city universal suffrage by 2017. Over half (54%) posted a blank vote, meaning they wanted neither Hong Kong’s former no. 2, Henry Tang, nor its former cabinet head, Leung Chun-ying, to win. Mr. Leung won 18% of the vote, followed by Mr. Tang at 16% and Albert Ho, who chairs the city’s Democracy Party, at 11%.

Ghana: NPP raises red flag over “manipulation” of biometric registration | Ghana Web

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has accused the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Electoral Commission of manipulating the ongoing voter biometric registration in certain parts of Accra to favour the ruling party. The Greater Accra NPP branch is alleging that new registration centres have been created in the region without their knowledge, “contrary to the agreed number of registration centres.”

Mali: Along came the coup in Mali | Al Jazeera

Tense and edgy merely weeks ago, the mood has since changed in Senegal, as the country stands on the precipice of another democratic achievement. The capital, Dakar, taut from the pre-election violence that resulted in at least six deaths in clashes between opposition supporters and security forces, now breathes a little easier in anticipation of a peaceful and successful runoff on Sunday. But by no means is the result of the presidential runoff here a cakewalk; pockets of tension continue in districts of Dakar, as a society gears itself for the possibility of a seismic power shift in the country’s body politic. The metamorphosis, however, from “critical” to “stable” has so far disproved the animated conjecture of overzealous journalists who speculated that the violence would intensify and spill into other restive countries in the regional neighbourhood. Senegal had the makings of a success story in a region often characterised by volatility, disappointment and paranoia. The talk in Senegal this week has been cautiously optimistic; peace is considered the default, the earlier violence a mere aberration from the norm. And then came Mali.

Senegal: Senegal votes in cliff-hanger run-off election | The Star

Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade accused the foreign powers that lined up against his bid for a third term of being dupes on Sunday after casting his ballot in the West African state’s most contentious poll in its recent history. The 85-year-old leader, whose bid to extend his rule triggered deadly street riots in the normally peaceful country ahead of a February first round, was urged by the United States and France not to run. He is expected to face a tough challenge from rival Macky Sall, a former ally and prime minister who has won the support of Senegal’s myriad opposition parties since taking second place in the February vote.

South Ossetia: As South Ossetia votes, an election controversy |

Five heavily armed men in uniforms pace up and down the narrow corridor outside the cardiology ward at the hospital in Tskhinval, the capital of South Ossetia, which declared its independence from Georgia after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. Their mission it to prevent reporters and political and human rights activists from visiting Alla Dzhioyeva, the 62-year-old woman who insists she was elected president last November. Dzhioyeva has been receiving treatment since South Ossetian riot police raided her election headquarters Feb. 9, and roughed her up. She was assaulted and knocked unconscious, she said, on the eve of what was supposed to be her inauguration. But the presidential election was not recognized by the South Ossetian authorities. The Supreme Court invalidated the results of the November poll and scheduled a new vote for March 25. Dzhioyeva is not participating in the new election. In a phone interview, she said she has become “a hostage” of the political machination enveloping the region.