Editorials: How the Wage Gap Thwarts Women’s Political Agenda | Forbes

The gender gap in voting is the latest hot topic after a USA Today poll showed Obama leading women voters over Romney by 18 points in key swing states. But there’s another gender gap when it comes to election season, and this one doesn’t work in women’s favor: women are being completely outspent by men in campaign contributions. This isn’t a new trend. While women have been slowly working on increasing our numbers in Congress – even though our representation is far, far from equal – there hasn’t been equal progress in women donating to Congressional candidates, the Center for Responsive Politics reports. Campaign contributions have long been a boy’s club, although women made advances when both Clintons made their runs. But this year’s political contributions are a different animal now that Super PACs have been emboldened by the Citizens United ruling. There are currently 407 Super PACs, and they have received over $150 million and spend over $85 million, making them a serious force in the race. Yet women only make up 14 percent of Super PAC donors, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by the Houston Chronicle. That number is down from previous years, in which it was more than doubled.

Voting Blogs: Anchorage’s Ballot Shortages and Denial of Service Attacks in “Meat Space” | Election Academy

Recently, I wrote about the denial of service (DoS) attack on a Canadian party’s leadership election. In that post, I discussed election officials’ (and their vendors’) responsibility for hardening their systems against such attacks. Moreover, I said said this responsibility exists whether the attack comes electronically or in the real world (aka “meat space” in the words of a programmer friend). Last Tuesday, municipal elections in Anchorage were somewhat chaotic – with ballot shortages across the city and many voters turned away from the polls. The problems appear to have been caused in part by an opponent of an equal-rights proposition who used email and Facebook to urge voters to the polls. Unfortunately, those appeals included incorrect information; namely, that voters could register at the polls and do so outside their home precincts. Alaska does not have election day registration, but rather requires voters to register 30 days before an election. The result was frustration as many voters visited numerous polling places in hopes – for some, in vain – of finding a ballot. The city clerk is investigating the problems and is weighing whether or not they could have been serious enough to invalidate the election.

National: The Ties That Bind: Romney and the Super PACs | OpenSecrets

Yesterday the long-developing ties between two Republican super PACs and Mitt Romney’s campaign grew stronger when the campaign announced that veteran GOP strategist Ed Gillespie would come aboard as a senior adviser. Gillespie is a founder of and adviser to American Crossroads, which has stockpiled $26.9 million so far this election cycle, much of which is expected to be spent helping the Republican nominee; it’s increasingly likely that will be Romney. Another Crossroads adviser is Carl Forti, who is also president of the pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The two super PACs, awash in money, share a number of benefactors. Many of the largest donors to Crossroads are also major donors to Restore Our Future, and vice versa. And many  have maxed out to the Romney campaign itself, which has been struggling, relatively speaking, to raise cash.

Arizona: Congressional district map clears U.S. review | Arizona Republic

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday approved a new congressional-district map for Arizona, erasing any lingering questions about which geographic areas candidates will run this fall. The OK comes as candidates have already largely embraced the map, which the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission created in January. It reconfigures congressional-district lines to reflect population changes documented by the 2010 census. It also adds a ninth district, the result of population growth over the last decade. The approval means the redistricting commission met its goal to get federal approval the first time it submitted a map. Arizona needs Justice Department pre-clearance for any election-law changes because of past problems with the federal Voting Rights Act, which is designed to protect minority voting rights. “One down, one to go,” said Ray Bladine, the commission’s executive director.

Colorado: Democrats hope bill can deliver mail ballots, presidential votes | The Denver Post

In the run-up to the 2008 election, then-Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign orchestrated one of the largest voter registration efforts in history, blanketing the country to register people door-to-door, at rallies and on college campuses. The strategy paid off. In Colorado, the number of registered Democrats increased by roughly 186,000 — almost four times the number of new Republicans. Unaffiliated voters also grew more than Republicans, then broke hard for Obama on Election Day, helping him clinch a 9 percentage point victory here. The enthusiasm didn’t carry over to 2010. According to data provided by the secretary of state’s office and analyzed by The Denver Post, of voters from all parties registered in 2008, nearly one-third did not cast ballots in the midterm election two years later.

Michigan: Federal court dismisses redistricting case | The Detroit News

A federal court has tossed out a challenge to Michigan’s redistricting plans for the state Legislature. An order last week from a three-judge panel says the legal opposition to the new districts was “too factually underdeveloped” to proceed. The new boundaries are based on Census counts and begin with this year’s elections. Civil rights groups and Democrats sued late last year to challenge new boundaries for Detroit seats in the state House.

Minnesota: Debate ramps up over potential effects of voter ID measure on students | The Minnesota Daily

With the state Legislature’s recent passage of the voter ID constitutional amendment, the future voting process for college students rests on many factors. And while both sides agree it’s too early to tell what the implications of the law would be if it passes on the November ballot, some worry about its affect on students. If the majority of Minnesota voters vote to mandate valid photo identification at the polls, details of how the amendment will work will be left up to the next Legislature. How it will work will also be dependent upon the makeup of the new Legislature — all 201 state legislators are up for re-election in November. On Wednesday, the Senate re-passed the bill to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot in November. All DFLers voted against the amendment, and all but one Republican voted in favor. Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, who represents the University of Minnesota’s district, said she worries about the potential impact on students and same-day registration. Although proponents of the amendment say that same-day registration will remain, Dziedzic said it’s unclear how it will work for students and may make voting more of a hassle.

Pennsylvania: ACLU, NAACP will sue over voter-ID law | philly.com

Critics of the month-old voter-identification law are poised to challenge it in the courts and General Assembly. The American Civil Liberties Union says it will file suit over the law’s constitutionality by the end of April, and two Philadelphia Democrats are set to introduce a bill Tuesday that would repeal the controversial measure. “There is no basis for the law in the first place. No clear fraud across the state was ever demonstrated,” said Rep. Dwight Evans, who is to appear with Rep. John Myers at a news conference Tuesday at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation office at 7121 Ogontz Ave. in West Oak Lane.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID bill causes concern among Bucks County’s senior citizens | Bucks News

“We never should have to fight for our right to vote,” said Martha Miller of Bristol. Miller was among a group of concerned residents who addressed the board of county commissioners on April 4. Miller told the commissioners that fighting for their right to vote is precisely what many elder and low-income Bucks County residents will have to do now that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the Voter ID Bill in March. When the bill becomes the law in time for November election all voters will be required to present photo identification at the polls. Those who do not produce identification will be allowed to cast provisional ballots and will be required to send in an identification document within six days after the Election Day.

Washington: Partisan brawl over cost of special election for Inslee’s former congressional seat | Seattle Times

Republicans continue to pound Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee over the expense of the special election to pick a temporary replacement for the 1st District congressional seat he abandoned last month. State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur called a news conference Monday morning in downtown Seattle to demand that Inslee pay for the special election. “He could pay this bill, rather than stick it on taxpayers,” Wilbur said. Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office has estimated the special election could cost the state close to $1 million. But it turns out that figure is misleading. The bulk of that “cost” is merely a budgetary shift to the state from the three counties involved in the special election.

West Virginia: Election officials scramble to fix ballot mistake | wtov9.com

Election officials in West Virginia are scrambling to fix a major mistake on the Republican primary ballot that is affecting all 55 counties. Hancock County Clerk Eleanor Straight explained to NEWS9’s Kelly Camarote that the problem was revealed to county officials during a four-hour conference call with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office. “We always double check, but there’s always a margin for error,” said Straight. “It was previously stated there were 18 delegates to be chosen for the primary election. The actual total was 19.” The mistake was found by state Republican party leaders after Hancock County already printed and sent absentee ballots to military personnel serving outside the county. “We were allowed to put a sticker over the one little sentence that said 18,” said Straight. “And to make it 19.” Straight said the voting machines need to be reprogrammed as well.

Wisconsin: Not what they meant democracy to look like – original supporters of recall law expected it would be used rarely | JSOnline

As armies of union sympathizers paraded around the Wisconsin Capitol in 2011, they often chanted, “This is what democracy looks like!” Yet when Democrats and organized labor undertook an effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker for virtually eliminating most public employees’ ability to collectively bargain, it looked nothing like what democracy had ever looked like or was intended to. In 1926, voters approved a change to the Wisconsin Constitution that provided for the recall of state officials if a petitioner could gather 25% of the signatures cast in the previous gubernatorial election for the relevant district. The change was one of a number of progressive initiatives intended to reduce the effect of money in politics and lessen the influence of special interests. In Wisconsin’s history, only two state elected officials had been successfully recalled before 2011. Nationally, only two governors have ever been recalled from office. Yet in 2012, Wisconsin will be seeing its 15th recall election in the span of one year.

Egypt: Egyptians flood Obama’s Facebook page in election row | BBC News

US President Barack Obama’s Facebook page has been swamped with comments from supporters of a candidate in Egypt’s presidential election. It follows news that Hazem Abu Ismail may be barred from the poll because one of his parents held dual nationality. Egypt’s electoral commission has said Mr Abu Ismail’s late mother became a naturalised US citizen in October 2006. But his supporters are calling on Mr Obama to support their claim that the immigration paperwork is fraudulent.

Malaysia: Ban lifted, students now allowed to join politics | Channel NewsAsia

Malaysia will lift a decades-old ban on university students joining political parties. Bills to amend three laws were tabled for the first reading in Parliament on Monday. The move was part of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s social transformation plan announced last year to allow greater civil liberties to the people. Malaysia’s higher education minister, Khalid Nordin, tabled three bills in parliament on Monday to amend three laws, namely the education and colleges acts, private higher education as well as education institutions acts, basically to allow students to join political parties. But they cannot stand for election or take parts in any unlawful or illegal assemblies.

Mali: Crises-weary Malians to give incoming president a chance | France 24

Intense negotiations at two Bamako institutions have yielded a settlement in recent days to Mali’s political crisis. But do Malians believe their incoming interim president, Dioncounda Traore, can put their country back on track? A line of black Mercedes cars snakes outside a luxury hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako while inside the air-conditioned lobby clutches of military-men in camouflage uniforms huddle in discreet corners, holding hushed conversations with ascending ranks of African diplomats. Discussions done, the dignitaries and military deputies march tight-lipped to their waiting cars before they’re off in a convoy of screeching sirens, to a military base on the outskirts of Bamako. The political action in this West African capital is moving at a rapid clip these days, after diplomats from the regional West African ECOWAS bloc negotiated a power handover deal with Mali’s military coup leaders last week.

Russia: Politician on Hunger Strike – A Protest Movement’s Second Wind? | NYTimes.com

“Day 24 is over,” Oleg Shein wrote in his blog just after midnight on April 8. “Tomorrow is Day 25. We are not on a suicide mission. Nor are we on a mission to make me the mayor. We are on a mission to secure fair elections that will put an end to the mafia system of government in Astrakhan.” The politician Oleg Shein and 21 of his supporters are on hunger strike — most of them since March 16. Shein ran for mayor of Astrakhan, a city of just over half a million people in southern Russia, near where the Volga River joins the Caspian Sea. On March 4, Shein lost with under 30 percent of the vote — and, like many independent candidates around the country, he claims the election was stolen.

South Korea: Opposition admits tight election contest | AFP

South Korea’s main opposition party said Monday its candidates, who had been forecast an easy victory, now faced a tight battle with conservatives in the run-up to this week’s general election. The centre-left Democratic United Party (DUP) had been tipped for an easy win in polls on Wednesday, a key test of sentiment before a presidential vote in December, but DUP leader Han Myeong-Sook admits the race is neck-and-neck. “We are now in an emergency situation and seized with a sense of crisis,” Han told reporters. A higher voter turnout would benefit opposition candidates who are more popular among younger voters, the DUP leader said. “If you cast ballots, the people will win. If not, the administration of (President) Lee Myung-Bak will win,” Han said.

South Korea: Twitter generation may give liberals upset win | euronews

South Korea’s liberal opposition, bolstered by the under-40s and power of social media, could spring a surprise win in this week’s parliamentary elections despite opinion polls that show it tied with the ruling conservatives. Experts say traditional pollsters base their projections on owners of fixed telephone lines, whereas people in their 20s and 30s, who form 37 percent of the voting population in the world’s most wired country, rarely use them. The young, more likely to carry a Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone in their pockets, are mostly liberal and their views are expressed and spread online, often by their smartphones.

National: FEC Ruling Leaves Ad Uncertainty | Roll Call

A court ruling rejecting Federal Election Commission disclosure requirements as too lax has left political players unsure how much they need to report about the financing of issue ads, making the agency a battleground in the dispute over secret money in 2012. The March 30 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson orders the FEC to rewrite disclosure rules drafted after enactment of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that the court deemed inadequate. Few expect the six-member agency to comply promptly with the order. Divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats, the FEC is notorious for partisan deadlocks. It hasn’t yet mustered a quorum to weigh new regulations arising from the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, though it did say it would no longer enforce restrictions that kept labor unions and corporations from making political expenditures.

National: Internet Voting Is Years Away, And Maybe Always Will Be | TechPinions

In today’s New York Times Magazine, political writer Matt Bai grumbles in a short piece about his inability to vote online in an era where nearly everything else can be done over the Internet. “The best argument against Internet voting,” he writes, “is that it stacks the system against old and poor people who can’t afford or use computers, but the same could be said about cars.” That, he argues, is a problem that could easily be solved by the electronic equivalent of giving people rides to a polling place. If only it were so simple. Voting, alas, has unique characteristics that make internet implementations all but impossible given current technology. The big problem is that we make two demands of it that cannot be met simultaneously. We want voting to be very, very secure. And we want it to be very, very anonymous.