The Voting News Daily: Citizens Dis-United: Justices May Take Another Look at Campaign Finance Case, Felon Voting Rights Fight – The Forgotten Front In The War On Voting

National: Citizens Dis-United: Justices May Take Another Look at Campaign Finance Case | ABA Journal After Newt Gingrich became the victim of attack ads paid for by Mitt Romney’s $30 million “super PAC,” Gingrich struck back with his own. His Winning Our Future political action committee hauled in at least $10 million from a loyal…

National: Felon Voting Rights Fight – The Forgotten Front In The War On Voting | TPM

State restrictions on early voting, voter ID laws and regulations on voter registration groups have been getting a lot of attention this year because of the impact they could have on the 2012 election. But there’s at least one voting issue that advocates say deserves more focus: the disenfranchisement of former felons. Nationwide, the approximately 5.3 million Americans with felonies (and, in several states, those with misdemeanor convictions) are kept away from the polls, according to the American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU). The organization is sponsoring the Democracy Restoration Act, a bill introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), which would create a federal standard for restoring the voting rights of felons. The ACLU doesn’t have any pipe dreams about passing the law this year, but they’re holding out hope it will have a chance with a more favorable Congress.

National: Obama Campaign Confronts Voter ID Laws |

Field workers for President Obama’s campaign are fanning across the country this weekend in an effort to confront a barrage of new voter identification laws that strategists say threaten the campaign’s hopes for registering new voters ahead of the November election. In Wisconsin, where a new state law requires those registering voters to be deputized in each of the state’s 1,800 municipalities, the campaign has sent a team of trainers armed with instructions for complying with the new regulations. In Florida, the campaign’s voter registration aides are traveling across the state to train volunteers on a new requirement that voter registration signatures be handed into state officials within 48 hours after they are collected. And in Ohio, Mr. Obama’s staff members are beginning outreach to let voters know about new laws that discourage precinct workers from telling voters where to go if they show up at the wrong precinct.

Pennsylvania: Representative Evans introducing effort to repeal voter ID law | NewsWorks

Some Pennsylvania lawmakers are challenging a new law — a law so new it hasn’t even been fully implemented yet. The state’s new voter ID law went through a dry run in last week’s primary. Starting with November’s general election, voters will be required to show photo identification. State Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, intends to introduce legislation Monday to repeal the law. “We have 75 co-sponsors on this particular bill already. You need 102 votes in order for it to become law,” Evans said. “So we’re going out to the public. We’re going to be having our own form of hearings around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to raise the consciousness of people.”

South Carolina: Deadline Monday for South Carolina to say if implementing voter ID would be possible this year |

A federal court has given the state of South Carolina until Monday to clarify whether it would be feasible to implement a statewide voter identification requirement in time for this year’s general elections. State elections officials have said that, in order to take appropriate steps to use the law for the Nov. 6 general election, the requirement that voters present government-issued photo identification at the polls must go into effect no later than Aug. 1 of this year. Now, it will be up to state Attorney General Alan Wilson to outline what steps the state would need to take to create photo voter ID cards and make sure voters know the rules in enough time for the general election. The deadlines for the state would be tight. But one of the three judges hearing the case said the speedy schedule is necessary if state officials want to be able to use the law — if approved — this year.

Virginia: Governor undecided on Voter ID law |

The arguments are far from over for a voter ID law now on the governor’s desk in Virginia. Democrats are continuing to express concern about voter suppression and are urging Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto the bill passed this past session by the Virginia General Assembly. “We’re making it harder for folks to vote, especially those who are perhaps frail or elderly or minorities,” says Senator Mark Herring, D-Loudoun. “It tends to have a disproportionate impact on them.” The bill would require voters to show identification at the polls in order for their vote to count. Otherwise, they would have to go back to the registrar at a later date to prove who they are.

Wisconsin: Cross-party line voting approved for recall election | The Badger Herald

The unprecedented nature of the upcoming recall primary elections has led a state board to determine that voting rules will differ from past primaries, allowing voters to vote for both Democrats and Republicans instead of receiving a single party primary ballot. Normal primaries, like the one that will occur on August 14, are considered one election, Government Accountability Board spokesperson Reid Magney said. However, he said because of the upcoming recall election, there will be six primaries, one for governor, one for lieutenant governor and four for the state senators, which are legally separate but held on the same day. Even though the elections are separate, there will only be one ballot, Magney said. Because there is also only one Republican primary election in the case of Gov. Scott Walker running against Madison citizen Arthur Kohl-Riggs, Magney said, those who wish to also participate can vote in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor and the four senators. However, voters will not be able to vote in both the Republican and the Democratic primary for governor, Magney said.

Wisconsin: Nickolaus won’t run for re-election as Waukesha County clerk | JSOnline

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, widely criticized over the conduct of elections in her county, announced Saturday she has decided not to seek re-election in November. But the embattled clerk said in a prepared statement that she would not relinquish “any authority or responsibility” for upcoming elections through the end of her term because “I am the Waukesha County constitutional officer charged with the responsibility of elections.” After problems in the election earlier this month, Nickolaus reportedly agreed under pressure from County Executive Dan Vrakas to cede election responsibilities to her deputy for the upcoming recall races. Her campaign manager said Saturday she “never ever agreed to hand over the responsibility given to her constitutionally as clerk” to administer the elections. “Kathy is still in charge,” said the manager, Dan Hunt, adding Nickolaus was unavailable for comment.

Wisconsin: Recall Vote Is First Shot in Wider Union War |

“Recall Walker” bumper stickers dotted the workers’ parking lot at the Georgia Pacific paper mill on Day Street here one recent afternoon, proof of their union’s role in the effort to oust Gov. Scott Walker from office early for his legislation limiting public employees’ bargaining rights. But among the largest donors to Mr. Walker and his cause are the plant’s owners, the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, the latter of whom has said of the recall election to be held in June, “If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power.” The recall vote here has been billed as a critical test of labor muscle versus corporate money. But it is only a warm-up for a confrontation that will play out during the presidential election, which both sides view as the biggest political showdown in at least 30 years between pro- and anti-union forces — a labor-management fight writ large.

Afghanistan: Vote law change planned ‘to fight fraud’ | AFP

Afghanistan’s election commission has drafted proposed changes to the country’s election law in a bid to prevent fraud in future parliamentary votes, an official said Sunday. Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential election and the parliamentary election held a year later were both characterised by widespread electoral fraud. “We have used the previous election experiences to prepare the new draft to improve future elections,” Independent Election Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told AFP. “In the new draft around 50 percent of the electoral law will be changed.”

Greece: Detention camp for immigrants opened as election looms | Euronews/Reuters

Greece opened its first purpose-built detention centre for illegal migrants on Sunday in Athens, a week before a national election where illegal immigration has emerged as a key issue. About 130,000 immigrants cross the country’s porous sea and land borders every year, the vast majority via Turkey, and the authorities are forced to release those who are arrested because of a lack of permanent housing. With Greece in its fifth year of recession and worries over rising crime levels, illegal immigration has become a major issue in the run up of the May 6 election. The once-obscure far-right Golden Dawn, which wants to deport all immigrants, is among the parties that has benefitted most from the mood among voters, and is expected to win its first seats in parliament.

Israel: Israel looks to possible early election | AFP/Times of Oman

Israel was on Sunday buzzing with the possibility of an early election after a key partner in the ruling right-wing coalition threatened to pull out, and the opposition called for an autumn vote. Fresh speculation about an early general election came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought off sharp criticism from a former top security chief over his policies on Iran’s nuclear programme and on peace with the Palestinians. Talk of an early vote, which has been in the air for several months, was revived by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who on Saturday said his Yisrael Beitenu party had exhausted its commitment to the coalition in a dispute over the issue of drafting Orthodox Jews into the army.

Kosovo: Election commission hears about OSCE’s Kosovo requirements | B92

The Ministry for Kosovo told the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) that the OSCE had set out a number of requirements for holding elections in Kosovo. Advisor to the minister for Kosovo and Metohija Vlada Jovičić said that the commission and the OSCE had agreed in principle on the OSCE assisting RIK in conducting the elections in the province, but the OSCE requirements that were “bordering on legality.” The OSCE recommends that for security reasons, the votes should be counted outside Kosovo and Metohija, the electoral commissions should only have a chairperson and two more members and the polls should be held at a total of 19 stations with between 70 and 100 polling booths, while in the mostly Serb-populated north, a few more polling stations should be opened. One of the OSCE requirements is that Serbia’s national symbols only be placed inside the polling stations.

Switzerland: New study critical of e-voting systems being tested in Switzerland | swissinfo

Swiss e-voting systems lack transparency and are vulnerable to attack by malevolent software, a study has found. The authorities are looking for solutions but officials point out that there is no such thing as absolute security, even with the traditional ballot paper vote. With the systems used so far in electronic voting trials “citizens cannot verify if their vote has been registered and counted correctly. They are obliged to trust the administration and authorities completely,” Eric Dubuis, information technology professor at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, told Under the mandate of the Federal Chancellery, Dubuis co-authored a study on verifiable e-voting systems – systems that allow the voter to trace all the steps of his or her vote and to check that there has been no manipulation and that the vote has been duly counted.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly – April 23-29 2012

A Bern University study concluded that Switzerland’s limited internet voting lacks transparency and is vulnerable to attack by malevolent software. In spite of similar concerns, Elections Canada continues plans to implement internet voting in 2015. In a case arising from a Nevada recount, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that individuals have no private right of action under Section 301 on the Help America Vote Act. Three after an election marred by ballot shortages and chain of custody violations, the Anchorage Assembly has still not certified election results. A District Court has ruled that election records in Jefferson County Colorado are open to public review. Third party voter registration groups are coping with restrictions imposed by a new Florida law. Janai Nelson considers the prominence of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act in cases involving State laws restricting voting in light of a recent court decision regarding Arizona’s requirement that voters show proof of citizenship and Myrna Perez writes about the continuing importance of the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting News Daily: FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won’t Stay Ruling, Ninth Circuit Rejects Effort to Apply HAVA to Local Recount

National: FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won’t Stay Ruling | Huffington Post A court rulingrequiring non-disclosing political groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity — to disclose their donors is one step closer to going into effect after a district court refused to stay its…

National: FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won’t Stay Ruling | Huffington Post

court rulingrequiring non-disclosing political groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity — to disclose their donors is one step closer to going into effect after a district court refused to stay its ruling in the face of an appeal. On March 30, a district court ruled in Van Hollen v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) that a loophole in FEC rules that allowed certain independent group campaign efforts to keep private the names of donors was invalid and needed to be rewritten or reset to the original language. On Friday, the court not only refused to stay the ruling, as requested by two intervening groups that are appealing the case, the Center for Individual Freedom and the Hispanic Leadership Fund, but the court also found that its ruling invalidated the FEC loophole, which required it to be immediately closed, resetting to the original language in the McCain-Feingold campaign reform law, known officially as the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).

National: Ninth Circuit Rejects Effort to Apply Help America Vote Act to Local Recount |

Federal law does not require states and localities to use a particular method of recounting ballots in elections for non-federal offices, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday. The court affirmed a district judge’s ruling dismissing a suit by Martin Crowley against the state of Nevada and the Churchill County clerk. Crowley sought declaratory relief and damages after a recount of a 2006 election for justice of the peace, which he lost by 26 votes, failed to change the results. Crowley brought suit under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 and Sec. 301 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. HAVA was enacted in response to problems in Florida and elsewhere during the 2002 elections, and established standards for the conduct of federal elections and authorized payments to state and local governments to replace antiquated voting systems.

Editorials: FCC Brings Sunlight to Elections, But the SEC Needs to Help, Too | Ciara Torres-Spelliscy/Huffington Post

2010 was a dark, even apocryphal election during which much of the political spending was from groups who did not reveal themselves. In the 2012 election, we might just have a bit more transparency. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited sums on elections. The case also ruled that transparency rules still apply to political ads. Justice Kennedy wrote, “A campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure has not existed before to-day.” This phrase from the court basically cries out for the political branches to act to bring better disclosure to elections. At long last, at least one federal agency has awakened from its deep slumber to bring the public improved transparency on political spending. It wasn’t the moribund Federal Election Commission (FEC). On April 27, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to place broadcasters’ political files online. This is a big step in the right direction.

Alaska: Anchorage election: Still not certified | Anchorage Press

Three weeks after an election marred by ballot shortages at precincts all over town, and a report that at least one ballot machine with a broken security seal was in use, the Anchorage Assembly has not hired an outside investigator to sort through the election mess. New Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall made a sobering announcement about the situation at the opening of Tuesday, April 24, Anchorage Assembly meeting. Hall had planned to—and he said, “hoped to”—announce two names that night. One would lead an investigation of election procedures and the other would provide a second legal opinion on whether election results can be certified. (Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler has previously advised the assembly to certify the results. Wheeler is a mayoral appointee whose boss just won re-election—just one of the sticky wickets assembly must navigate.)
“All I can do is ask for your continued patience and assure you that every effort is being made to get these individuals started absolutely as fast as we can,” Hall said. His announcement include a goal, to certify the election at a special assembly meeting Thursday, May 3, which he said also sets a deadline for an outside lawyer’s opinion on certification. “That is one [hire] I am particularly focused on,” Hall said.

Arizona: U.S. Justice Department signs off on district maps | Arizona Republic

The U.S. Department of Justice approved Arizona’s new legislative map Thursday, making official what most candidates are already taking for granted. The approval marks the first time in four decades that Arizona’s legislative map has won Justice Department approval on the first submission, according to attorneys for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The agency had no objections to the map, which the commission approved in January. It creates 30 new legislative districts across the state to reflect population shifts over the past decade. Most candidates eyeing a seat in the Legislature have already relied on the new map as they have declared their intentions to run.

Florida: Rubio fined for taking improper donations |

The Federal Election Commission has fined Sen. Marco Rubio $8,000 for accepting more than $210,000 in improper contributions during his 2010 run for the Senate. In a negotiated settlement finalized last month but only publicly released now, Marco Rubio for Senate acknowledged taking in more than $210,000 in “prohibited, excessive and other impermissible contributions” during his Senate campaign and failing to refund or “redesignate” the funds within the allowed time frame.

Editorials: Voter ID – what lurks in Minnesota’s proposed amendment | Mike Dean/

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Unfortunately, Kent Kaiser’s piece (“Photo ID: An end to ‘same-day’ registration in Minnesota? Not true,” April 17) attempts to distort what is actually lurking in the voter ID constitutional amendment. Under current Minnesota law, this proposed constitutional amendment to change Minnesota’s election system would force every person who registers in the polling place on Election Day to submit a provisional ballot; that is, they would not be allowed to cast a real ballot. This fundamental change is required because the amendment says that “All voters must be subject to substantially equivalent eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.” While most people understandably won’t grasp the implications of this statement when they read the ballot question, an election official understands that immediate eligibility verification is not possible. Practically speaking, for voters who need to update their voting address on Election Day and others doing same-day registration, election judges would have to check multiple databases to verify their name, address, date of birth with the state’s department of public safety, department of health, national death registry and the federal social security office.

Mississippi: Voter ID gets final OK, heads to Governor | The Clarion-Ledger

A Mississippi voter ID bill is headed to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has said he supports it as a way to protect the integrity of elections. The final version of House Bill 921 passed the Republican-controlled House 79-39 Thursday, with strong opposition from black representatives. It would require voters to show a driver’s license or other form of photo identification before casting a ballot. The bill is intended to enact a state constitutional amendment that 62 percent of Mississippi voters adopted in last November’s general election. Bryant has pledged to sign the bill into law. However, there’s no guarantee that the ID requirement will ever take effect.

Ohio: Hunter finally declared winner in Hamilton County judge election |

One year, five months and 25 days after voters cast their ballots, Hamilton County declared a winner Friday in the 2010 election for juvenile court judge. Democrat Tracie Hunter beat Republican John Williams by 71 votes in what is believed to be the longest election in county history. Hunter trailed Williams by 23 votes after the election on Nov. 2, 2010, but a court order to count about 300 contested provisional ballots put her over the top. The long, politically-charged fight over the ballots became an early skirmish between Democrats and Republicans in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, as both sides angled to shape voting rules and policies.

Wisconsin: Appeals court turns away challenge to second voter ID injunction | Wisconsin State Journal

A state appeals court said Thursday that it won’t block enforcement of a court injunction that stopped enforcement of the photo ID requirements of Wisconsin’s voter ID law. A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeals said it would not stay the injunction issued last month by Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess in part because the state Attorney General’s Office failed to show that harm would result if the injunction remains in place. The case involves a lawsuit challenging the photo ID requirements for voters that was brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

Editorials: Phony party candidates dilute Wisconsin election process | River Falls Journal

Last July Isaac Weix, an apparent Republican, entered the election recall race of state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf as a Democrat to force a primary election for Harsdorf’s Democrat opponent Shelly Moore. Weix’s motivation was that a primary would give Harsdorf more time to campaign for the general recall election. This year recall fever revs up again. More state lawmakers, including Gov. Scott Walker, are facing recall elections. Statewide, six Republicans are running as fake Democrats to force primaries. Walker, too, has a “fake” opponent: Arthur Kohl-Riggs, whose motto is “Less of a joke than Scott Walker,” has collected enough signatures to force a Republican primary. Kohl-Riggs has never been associated with the Republican Party.

Armenia: Local and international observers get ready to monitor parliamentary election |

Seven international and 47 local organizations will carry out an observation mission at the May 6 parliamentary elections in Armenia. The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe’s (PACE), the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the European Parliament, the CIS Observation Mission and the International Expert Center for Electoral Systems (ICES) are among the international organizations.

Editorials: Egypt’s Presidential Primaries: Everything at Stake | Open Salon

Now that the Republican primaries in the U.S. have been decided in favor of Mitt Romney, and Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande are facing off in France, perhaps the most critical presidential ‘primaries’ of all are being fought out in Egypt. Everything is at stake here, arguably not just for Egypt, but for the region and the world. The future of the Arab Spring hangs in the balance, with three possible scenarios: Egypt’s elections return a hardliner Islamist for president, setting it on the path of Ayatollah Iran, confirming the worst fears of the West; or the military re-asserts its role in the power balance, along the lines of traditional Turkish politics; or, in a case of Mubarak redux, an old regime loyalist is brought in to protect the interests of the beleagured business elite.

Greece: Recession-Wracked Greece Nears Vote That May Decide Fate in Euro | Bloomberg

Greece is entering the home stretch of its first election campaign since becoming a global financial pariah and the polls show no party gaining a mandate to enforce the austerity policies needed to stay in the euro. The final surveys, published on April 20, showed as many as 10 parties with a chance of winning seats in the May 6 vote. The two biggest, traditional rivals New Democracy and socialist Pasok, may be forced into a coalition. The country needs a functioning government to ensure that it continues to receive rescue funds to keep its economy afloat.