Voting Blogs: Imagine no campaign donations. It’s easy if you try. | Enik Rising

Imagine, for a moment, that you didn’t need to raise money to run for office, that the government would pay you to run. Who would that help? Would it encourage more moderate candidates, who are usually pressured out of nomination contests by party money because they don’t stand for anything? Or would it enable the extremists, whom are normally de-funded due to concerns about their toxic views? Well, we actually don’t need to imagine. Arizona and Maine had just such a system in place for state legislative elections during the last decade. So Michael Miller and I collected roll call votes from those states and compared those who first got elected through “clean” funding with those who achieved offices through traditional funding methods. We report the results in our new paper “Buying Extremists,” which we’re presenting next week at the meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association.

National: The big money men buy a voice in American politics | The Age

THE video begins like this: wispy clouds drift over the great American outdoors. Cranes build an office block. Trucks roar down the highway. ”Capitalism made America great,” says a gravelly voice. ”The free market. Hard work. The building blocks of the American dream.” A family walks through a wheat field, where the Stars and Stripes waves briskly. ”But in the wrong hands, those dreams can turn into nightmares.” And storm clouds gather over the wheat field. The attack ad goes on to paint Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a corporate raider of the worst ilk, making his millions through stripping assets and staff from honest American businesses. It was exquisitely timed to upset Romney, as rival Republican Newt Gingrich accelerated his run towards his South Carolina primary win on January 21. But Gingrich’s name was not mentioned, nor did he endorse the ad (or later accept responsibility for its errors and exaggerations). It was paid for by a group called Winning Our Future.

Alaska: Investigations Launched into Anchorage Election Disenfranchisement | Alaska Dispatch

A roiling round of election second-guessing ramped up Wednesday as the Anchorage Municipal Clerk’s office tried to determine how a mayoral election in which 27 percent of the registered voters showed up could have resulted in widespread ballot shortages, and others tried to understand why sentiment on a controversial ballot measure flip-flopped less than a week before the vote.  While allegations of disenfranchisement grew louder, with anecdotes of voters being turned away at the polls, some things appeared certain — including results of the mayoral election.  Although contender Paul Honeman isn’t conceding yet, incumbent Mayor Dan Sullivan — who led by a whopping 21 percent with nearly all precincts reporting — declared victory. “I’m concerned, like everybody, that some voters may have been disenfranchised, but the margin is significant enough that I think I can declare victory,” Sullivan said at a press conference. He appeared to be one of the few happy voters out there.

Alaska: More than 50 Alaska precincts ran out of ballots in Tuesday’s election |

A city review of this week’s Anchorage election shows that nearly half of the 121 voting precincts ran out of preprinted ballots at some point. Late Friday, the city clerk’s office said it had finished a preliminary review of all the precincts. It found that 55 of the 121 experienced ballot shortages in Tuesday’s election. In addition, nearly 6,100 questioned ballots were cast, compared with about 1,000 in last year’s election. Most of the questioned ballots were cast before ballot shortages occurred. Questioned ballots are issued if a voter lacks identification, is not on the registry, has moved within the past 30 days or is voting in a place other than a home precinct. The clerk’s office says more than 1,400 additional unscanned ballots were cast. In those cases, the voter signed the register, but used a ballot that could not be scanned by machine. Those are not questioned ballots.

California: FEC to deny Senator Feinstein’s proposal | The Associated Press

A draft opinion that the Federal Election Commission issued Friday indicates that it probably will reject a request from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election campaign to allow her to replace millions of dollars in contributions embezzled by her treasurer with new donations from the original donors. The FEC is likely to take a final vote on her request Thursday, but the issuance of just one draft advisory opinion is a signal of some consensus among commissioners. Feinstein’s campaign treasurer, Kinde Durkee, pleaded guilty last week to defrauding numerous California politicians of at least $7 million. Feinstein was the hardest hit, losing an estimated $4.5 million.

Editorials: Only spotlight for elections supervisors is harsh | Palm Beach Post

In ancient times, before 2000, Florida elections supervisors had profiles lower than mob guys in witness protection. Then came the butterfly ballot and Bush vs. Gore and the realization that not just anyone can run an election – or at least run an election well. Palm Beach County is on its third elections supervisor since then and next year may have a fourth. Meanwhile, the Legislature has made two major revisions in how the state conducts elections and another big change designed to make voter registration harder. Point being, the workings of elections never have been under more scrutiny. Sadly, 12 years after the biggest election fiasco in U.S. history, Palm Beach County remains unable to produce a string of trouble-free elections, no matter who is in charge. Theresa LePore’s 2000 ballot brought her a challenge from fellow Democrats in 2004. She lost to Arthur Anderson, a former school board chairman who had no experience with elections or technology. Mr. Anderson presided over a reign of error.

Texas: Push is on to make Texas GOP primary a winner-take-all battle | Star Telegram

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. A group of Texas party activists, led by Santorum supporters, 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 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: Government Accountability Board to help Waukesha County with election day operations |

Looking for the state training requirements to become a county clerk?  There is no need to grab a pen.  There are none. The details were revealed by the Government Accountability Board when asked what kind of training was required of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. “The state law does not have any specific training requirements for county clerks,” says GAB spokesperson Reid Magney. Nickolaus handed over election duties to her deputy clerk, after she was pressured to hand over responsibilities following a chaotic primary night.  The clerk says computer software malfunctioned, which forced her office to count and check results by hand.  The incident comes less than a year after Nickolaus forgot to hit the save button during the state supreme court election, which changed the result of the statewide race.

Wyoming: Lawsuit challenges redistricting plan |

Wyoming’s newly adopted legislative redistricting plan is under fire from a group of citizens who filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming it fails to give the state’s less-populous counties fair representation. The lawsuit, filed in state District Court in Laramie, charges that state lawmakers were careful in the legislative session that ended last month to make sure that incumbents didn’t have to run against each other. But it claims the Legislature only gave lip service to the notion of making sure the less-populated counties got a fair voice. Gillette lawyer Nick Carter filed the lawsuit Thursday in Laramie County District Court. It seeks a court order to block Gov. Matt Mead and the other four statewide elected officials from implementing the redistricting plan.

Guinea-Bissau: Poll campaign postponed ahead of run-off election | AFP

Guinea-Bissau’s electoral commission announced Friday the start of election campaigning for April 22 run-off polls had been postponed to examine an appeal by the opposition. “The postponement is linked to the examination of appeals” filed by five opposition candidates who want the March 18 first round of voting annuled, the elections commission said in a statement. An official from the Supreme Court said that until it makes its ruling, “the whole electoral process remains suspended.”

Malawi: President Bingu wa Mutharika dead | BBC News

President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi has died, doctors and cabinet ministers have told the BBC, but the lack of a formal announcement is leading to widespread anxiety. Mr Mutharika, 78, suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday and state media say he was flown to South Africa for treatment. There are fears that his death could lead to a power struggle. Both the UK and US have called for the constitution to be respected. According to the constitution, the vice-president takes over if the head of state is incapacitated or dies in office. But Vice-President Joyce Banda and Mr Mutharika fell out after a row over the succession in 2010, and she was expelled from the ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP).

Mali: Coup leader agrees to return power and to organize elections |

Mali state television announced late Friday that the leader of Mali’s coup, Captain Amadou Sanogo, and the Economic Community of West African States have agreed to a plan under which the coup leaders will hand over power to the civilian government in exchange for the end of trade and diplomatic sanctions. The statement was read in French over ORTM, the state TV network. The parties agreed to set up a transition process leading to a presidential election, Sanogo said. A transitional prime minister will lead the transition “to manage the crisis in the north of Mali and to organize free, transparent and democratic elections in accordance with a road map,” he said.

South Korea: Ruling Party Risks Parliament Election Loss | Businessweek

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s ruling party faces losing control of parliament next week to an opposition that vows to increase welfare spending, revisit a U.S. trade deal and improve ties with North Korea. The New Frontier Party is struggling to overcome bribery and illegal surveillance scandals ahead of April 11’s National Assembly elections that may forecast the December presidential race. The opposition Democratic United Party has pledged to create 3.3 million jobs and may get a boost from younger voters who face an unemployment rate almost twice the national average. Asia’s fourth-largest economy has had slower growth and higher inflation under Lee than his predecessor, contributing to a 50 percent drop in his popularity. Relations have also worsened with North Korea, who plans to fire a long-range rocket between April 12 and 16 would scuttle a food aid agreement with the Obama administration. “An opposition victory will hasten Lee’s position as a lame duck,” said Lee Nae Young, a political science professor at Korea University in Seoul. “Regardless of who wins, we could see many welfare policies enacted before Lee’s term ends, as parties try to improve the odds for December.”