The Voting News Daily: Voter ID laws spark heated debate before U.S. election, Why Isn’t Voter Suppression A Protest Cause?

National: Voter ID laws spark heated debate before U.S. election | Reuters Liberal activists on Wednesday criticized new voter registration requirements in dozens of states, saying millions of people could be deterred from voting in the November U.S. presidential election – a claim their opponents disputed. The Center for American Progress issued a report that said…

National: Voter ID laws spark heated debate before U.S. election | Reuters

Liberal activists on Wednesday criticized new voter registration requirements in dozens of states, saying millions of people could be deterred from voting in the November U.S. presidential election – a claim their opponents disputed. The Center for American Progress issued a report that said new barriers to voting have been enacted by conservative state legislatures with the aim of disenfranchising voters from among certain groups such as low-income voters, minorities and college students. Those constituencies have tended to favor Democrats. “The right to vote is under attack all across our country,” the group said in a report that launched the latest salvo in the growing war of racially tinged rhetoric over new voter ID requirements.

Editorials: Why Isn’t Voter Suppression A Protest Cause? | The New Republic

This week brought another major report on all the efforts in state capitals, almost all Republican-led, to restrict voting rights via new limits on voter registration, early voting, proof of residency and voter identification, all in the name of countering the phantom menace of voter fraud. In a conference call to announce the report, which was produced by the Center for American Progress, Rep. James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat, noted that the new rules had led several groups to stop registering voters in that most crucial of swing states, Florida, for fear of running afoul of the law: “To see the League of Women Voters walking away from voter registration activities in the state of Florida because to do so makes it almost inevitable that they will be brought before a court of law and charged with crimes — that is not the America so many of us started, back in our pre-teenaged years, working to make possible.” This prompted me to wonder again, as I did when I first heard about the decision by the registration groups to abandon Florida, why there hasn’t been more visible pushback against the new restrictions. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, after all, people risked imprisonment and worse to protest on behalf of voting rights and civil rights. Why is the threat of penalties under an obviously unjust law now enough to discourage groups from challenging them outright?

National: Romney using ethics exception to limit disclosure of Bain holdings | The Washington Post

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whose wealth has become a central issue in the 2012 campaign, has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings. By offering a limited description of his assets, Romney has made it difficult to know precisely where his money is invested, whether it is offshore or in controversial companies, or whether those holdings could affect his policies or present any conflicts of interest. In 48 accounts from Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded in Boston, Romney declined on his financial disclosure forms to identify the underlying assets, including his holdings in a company that moved U.S. jobs to China and a California firm once owned by Bain that filed for bankruptcy years ago and laid off more than 1,000 workers. Those are known only because Bain publicly disclosed them in government filings and on the Internet. But most of the underlying assets — the specific investments of Bain funds— are not known because Romney is covered by a confidentiality agreement with the company.

Alaska: City Clerk’s Office Reviews Voting Problems |

The Anchorage city clerks office is calling the voter turn out in yesterday’s election “unprecedented.” The office is investigating the election, working today to figure out which voting precincts ran out of ballots. Voters reported widespread ballot shortages. Mayor Dan Sullivan was reelected by a wide margin. But his main challenger Paul Honeman, is not conceding given the voting irregularities. It’s Clerk Barbara Gruenstiens 9th time running Anchorgage Municipal Elections, and she says she’s never seen anything like what happened Tuesday.

“We heard that there was somebody spreading information that you could show up at any precinct and register to vote that day and vote that day and your vote would count, and that’s incorrect information.”

In fact, you had to register 30 days before voting day to have your vote count. That somebody who spread mis-information, according to multiple reports is Jim Minnery with the anti-proposition group, “Protect Your Rights.” Minnery sent out a last minute email urging unregistered voters to swamp polling places and vote against the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative. Minnery says he got bad information from the municipal clerks office.

Colorado: Photo ID at the polls nixed by Colorado lawmakers |

Senate Democrats nixed a proposal to ask voters whether people should provide photo identification at the polls amid concerns Wednesday that the measure would create barriers for people least likely to have IDs — minorities, the elderly and the homeless. The hearing became so intense at one point that the chair of the committee considering the bill threatened to cancel the hearing after an outburst from people during testimony. The Republican-sponsored bill would ask voters in November whether people should show a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, before being able to vote. The proposal would also remove utility bills, bank statements, and naturalization documents as valid forms of identification during elections. Colorado’s proposal failed on a party-line vote on the same day Minnesota lawmakers passed a measure asking voters in November whether people should present photo identification for voting. Similar requirements have faced legal challenges in Texas and Wisconsin. However, Indiana’s photo ID law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Colorado: Democrats resurrect bill that would allow counties to mail ballots to inactive voters | The Denver Post

In a move likely to inflame partisan tensions, Colorado Democrats plan to graft dead legislation allowing counties to mail ballots to 439,560 “inactive voters” onto a resurrected Republican bill. House Republicans said Senate Democrats were “hijacking” the House bill. But Democrats said the issue of allowing registered voters who didn’t vote in the last election to receive mail ballots was too important to give up. “If it’s going to be a fight, this is worth fighting over,” Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, an organizer of the Democratic effort, said. House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said he was surprised by the Democratic move. “I know that from time to time bills are hijacked for other purposes,” McNulty said. “It’s pretty extraordinary that Senate Democrats would resurrect a (Republican) bill like this. It is extraordinary that they would go to these efforts.”

Editorials: Florida – How Soon We Forget |

Last spring, Florida made some changes to its election law. Cloaked as technical tweaks, the new laws have the potential to swing the 2012 election. When it comes to presidential elections, Florida matters. With 29 electoral votes, Florida is by far the most influential swing state in the country. Who gets to vote in Florida could determine who will win the election. There are over 11 million registered voters in the state. But after the changes put in place last spring, there may be far fewer Floridians going to the polls in 2012. President Obama and the Republican nominee will be fighting for every last one of those votes. The state is so critical to the race that there’s early talk of Floridian political stars like Senator Marco Rubio or former Governor Jeb Bush joining the Republican ticket. In 2008, Obama defeated Senator John McCain in Florida by a little more than 200,000 votes, out of more than 8 million cast. The changes enacted last spring include severe restrictions on groups that register new voters, cutting the early voting period nearly in half and rolling back voting rights for those with criminal convictions in their past.

Guam: Rodriguez wants election reform meeting | News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

With five months until the primary election, no consensus has been made regarding legislation to reform the island’s election process. However, the Committee on Election Reform has called a special meeting with hopes to discuss the importance of reforming the island’s election laws and how to move forward from the veto of Bill 413. KUAM News asked Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. if every time there’s an election in the future and allegations and irregularities arose, would we change the law, conduct an audit do a recount of the votes. He replied, “Yes, it should be, I think so. I think if there’s a valid complaint, if there’s valid reasons to go back and do an audit or do a recount I think that needs to be done and I think it’s been done in the past.” The chairman for the committee says although there’s an attempt to conduct an override on the vetoed Bill 413, he’s calling for a special meeting to see what needs to be done to further ensure our future elections are carried out “where its transparent and where people are not disenfranchised”. He added, “We have an election in five months and so a lot of the provisions in Bill 413 are good provisions that will facilitate the Guam Election Commission and how they carry out the election, so we need to address that. We just need to move forward and move pass this impasse.”

Idaho: One party state: The closing of Idaho’s Republican primary | State of Elections

Recently, Idaho Democrats reaffirmed their commitment to an open primary, which allows any elector to choose that party’s ballot (and only that party’s ballot) in the primary election. Any voter in Idaho may choose to participate in the Democratic Party’s primary. This means that Democrats and unaffiliateds may vote in the primary, because a Republican choosing to vote in the Democratic primary would forego their right to participate in the Republican primary under Idaho law. The Democratic Party’s commitment to an open primary is significant, because it means that Idaho has both a closed and an open primary. The transition to this semi-open primary system has been rocky in the Gem State. It began in 2008 with a coup in the Idaho Republican Party. A plank was included in the platform that called for primaries to be closed. A closed primary, however, would require changes to Idaho law, which up until this summer had no provision for recording partisan registration. In order to force the state to make this change, the Idaho Republican Party sued the Republican Secretary of State, arguing that Idaho’s open primary laws violated the Constitution in an as-applied challenge.

Ohio: Senate passes bill that would repeal election reform |

The Ohio Senate OK’d legislation Wednesday that would repeal controversial GOP-backed election reform that is the subject of a November ballot issue. The final vote on Senate Bill 295 was a party-line 23-10, with Democrats vehemently opposed. “You have messed up election laws and where people and how people vote this entire general assembly,” said Sen. Mike Skindell, a Democrat from the Cleveland area. “And this is a prime example of your disaster in election laws in this state. You are undermining the will of the people. You’re trying to subvert the referendum process….” The legislation heads to the Ohio House, where some Republican leaders have voiced concern about the constitutionality of a repeal. Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder, from Medina, told reporters Wednesday that there was no precedent for such a move, though he would support a repeal.

Texas: Santorum Backers Look to Change Texas Primary Rules | The Texas Tribune

Rick Santorum, trying to keep his presidential hopes alive despite increasingly long odds, is looking for the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass from Texas Republicans. Santorum has noted in recent days that some Texas party activists are waging an uphill battle to change the rules of the May 29 primary so that whoever wins would get all 152 delegates up for grabs in the contest. The activists, led by Santorum supporters, say they have enough support to force an emergency meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee, though major hurdles loom beyond that. The Republican National Committee would have to approve the last-ditch move to change the delegate selection process because of the late date of the request, officials say. An RNC official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday that would be highly unlikely. Later, the RNC communications director, Sean Spicer, said there is “no basis” for a change and that Texas would “remain a proportional state,” according to a posting on Twitter from The Washington Post. The change might also require approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Wisconsin: Under pressure, Nickolaus hands off election duties to deputy | JSOnline

Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas said he would publicly call for County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’ resignation unless she handed off her election duties in the upcoming recalls to her deputy clerk. Nickolaus chose the latter. She agreed to allow outside consultants and county staff to work with her deputy, Kelly Yaeger, to handle the election, Vrakas said. “The county will move swiftly to examine the election night procedures in the county clerk’s office and make changes as necessary to restore the public’s confidence in our elections,” Vrakas said in a statement late this afternoon. In an interview, Vrakas said, “I appreciate the fact that she understands the importance of restoring confidence in Waukesha County election night reporting. Swift, detailed, orderly reporting that should be available on the Internet. When given the choice to step down or step aside, she made the right decision.”

Wisconsin: Waukesha County’s Election-Count Meltdown Raises Concerns For Recall | The Nation

Waukesha County, Wisconsin, has for more than a year been ground zero for the national debate about the mismanagement of elections by partisan officials. While there is very little evidence of supposed voter fraud in America, there are instances where officials who are in charge of elections mangle the process of counting votes—either intentionally or unintentionally—to such an extent that they raise real concerns about the legitimacy of the process. And Waukesha County, the third most populated county in the states and the center of a populous Republican-leaning region that is at the heart of the vote-rich suburban tracts surrounding Milwaukee, has become a focus for those concerns. Now, Waukesha County is back in the headlines after a new vote-counting controversy that has led to calls for the removal of scandal-plagued County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.

Wisconsin: GOP’s fake Democrats for Wisconsin recall primaries named |

The state GOP has lined up six fake Democrats to run in upcoming recall elections targeting Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republicans. GOP spokesman Ben Sparks says Gladys Huber will run for governor; Isaac Weix will run for lieutenant governor; and Gary Ellerman, Tamara Varebrook, James Engel and James Buckley will run in four state Senate recalls. The elections are scheduled for May 8 and June 5. If primaries are needed they’ll be held May 8.

Editorials: Southeast Asia Roundup: The (Electoral T)Ides of March | CEIP

Step aside Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, there are equally (some would argue more) gripping electoral contests occurring on the other side of the world—in Southeast Asia. Myanmar’s by-elections on April 1 were groundbreaking. Timor-Leste’s ongoing presidential elections seem to have already thrust the country in a new direction. And in Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak may not have called for a vote, but election fever is in the air.

Egypt: Brotherhood candidate registers for presidency | BBC News

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for the Egyptian presidency has registered for the election set for late May. Khairat al-Shater, who announced he was running for the presidency less than a week ago, presented his papers to the electoral commission on Thursday. The party had previously said it would not field a candidate in the vote. Meanwhile, doubts were cast over the eligibility of Salafist contender Hazem Abu Ismail, after electoral officials said his mother was a US citizen. The ruling is likely to bar Mr Abu Ismail from the race, since a law made last year stipulates that a candidate, or his parents, may not have citizenship of any country other than Egypt.

Libya: NTC chief threatens to resign ‘if elections fail’ as tribal clashes flare | Al Arabiya

The head of Libya’s interim government and revolutionary figure, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, said on Wednesday he would stand down if the country’s upcoming elections run off course. In the wake of fresh unrest between former Libyan rebels, Jalil said in an interview with Al Arabiya that “strong force will be used against those who threaten the security of Libyans. I plan to resign if the elections fail,” the National Transitional Council chief added, revealing that the vote for a constituent assembly has been scheduled for June 19. The remarks came at the close of a third day of clashes near the border of Tunisia which has claimed at least 26 lives, according to Al Arabiya. “We will not allow Libyan blood to continue to be spilled,” Jalil said.

Serbia: Presidential election set for May following Boris Tadic’s resignation | The Washington Post

Serbia will elect a new president May 6, and the campaign is expected to focus on two key issues: the Balkan country’s flagging economy and its bid to join the European Union. The two leading candidates are Boris Tadic, who formally resigned as president on Thursday to make way for an early election, and Tomislav Nikolic, whose nationalist Serbian Progressive Party has Russia’s support. In March, Tadic persuaded the EU to allow Serbia to officially apply for membership, following the long-awaited arrest of the Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic. He was turned over to a U.N. tribunal in The Hague to face genocide charges. Tadic also has overseen a more conciliatory stance toward Kosovo, a former province that declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Many countries, including the United States, have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but not Serbia or Russia.

South Korea: North Korean refugee stands for parliament in the South | Reuters

By the time Pyongyang’s rubber stamp parliament meets on April 13 to anoint Kim Jong-un as the third of his line to rule the impoverished state, 53-year old Cho Myung-chul will likely have become the first North Korean to win a free election. The rub is that Cho, once part of North Korea’s elite who defected in 1994 during the 17-year rule of Kim Jong-il, is standing in parliamentary elections in South Korea April 11 – the first defector to do so. “When I first came to Seoul I was filled with rage and pure hatred for Kim Jong-il’s government,” Cho told Reuters in a cafe in the heart of Seoul’s bustling commercial centre. Cho studied at and later joined the faculty of Kim Il Sung University, named after the founder of North Korea and reserved for regime loyalists.