National: Sunshine for the Super PAC: The DISCLOSE Act Would Eliminate Anonymous Donors | Georgetown Public Policy Review Last month, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced an updated version of the DISCLOSE Act, legislation aimed at improving transparency in campaign-related spending. Senator Whitehouse’s attention is certainly warranted. Right now, corporations and labor unions can unload their treasuries…
National: Sunshine for the Super PAC: The DISCLOSE Act Would Eliminate Anonymous Donors | Georgetown Public Policy Review
Last month, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced an updated version of the DISCLOSE Act, legislation aimed at improving transparency in campaign-related spending. Senator Whitehouse’s attention is certainly warranted. Right now, corporations and labor unions can unload their treasuries into independent expenditures. Super PACs and traditional PACs are operating under the same roof. The relevant regulatory body, the Federal Election Commission (FEC), can’t decide if a candidate filming an advertisement specifically for a DNC TV spot qualifies as coordinating with the DNC. In short, campaign finance is a mess. Oddly enough, the revised edition of the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Elections (DISCLOSE) Act would not change any of that. Yet, by addressing one critical issue, the DISCLOSE Act has the potential to be the most important piece of legislation debated by Congress in 2012.
Here’s yet another consequence of the confusing super PAC era: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., may have irritated members of his conference by donating to an anti-incumbent super PAC before the Illinois primary, but Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., could have violated campaign finance rules when he solicited Cantor’s donation. Last week, Roll Call reported that Cantor donated $25,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability as a way of supporting freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill, against fellow Republican Rep. Don Manzullo in a member-versus-member primary in the state’s 16th District (The group ultimately spent over $220,000 against Manzullo). According to both Cantor’s camp and Schock himself, Cantor cut the check at Schock’s request.
Mad dashes between polling places in search of ballots, a voting machine that didn’t work and a frustrated voter who threw up her hands and went home highlight three real-life accounts of the chaotic April 3 election, according to affidavits collected by the American Civil Liberties Union. The stories are just an initial sample of what went wrong on April 3, said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of ACLU Alaska. The group is working on confirming another 160 more complaints regarding disenfranchisement and systemic difficulties at the polls, Mittman said in an April 10 letter to the Anchorage Assembly. One of the disenfranchised was Rhonda Matthews, who works in the Federal Aviation Administration’s traffic and quality control office. She tried voting at Klatt Elementary School a little after 7 p.m., according to her affidavit. But there were no ballots. Go to other polling places, including one at the Alaska Club on O’Malley, she was told. When she got there, polling employees said she couldn’t vote at that site — without saying why. Go to the airport, they told her. She had 15 minutes before polls closed, and gave up when she realized she wouldn’t make it to the airport in time. “I decided to go home from the Alaska Club and was not able to vote.”
Elections officials in the District are condemning conservative activist James O’Keefe as a “prankster” for his latest hidden-camera ploy, in which he sent an associate inside a D.C. polling place to demonstrate the need for “voter ID” laws by showing he could vote as the U.S. attorney general. In a statement, the Board of Elections and Ethics said the O’Keefe associate was “misrepresenting his identity” by walking into Spring Valley’s Precinct 9 on Tuesday and asking a poll worker if Eric Holder appeared on the rolls. But a representative of O’Keefe’s Project Veritas said no laws were broken in the incident. The attorney general is indeed registered to vote in the precinct, and the poll worker invited the man to sign the poll book and proceed to vote. At that point, the man inquired about providing ID and was told it was not necessary before he left. The board said that the Holder incident is one of “multiple incidents” that took place last Tuesday that it continues to investigate. O’Keefe teased other hidden-camera episodes in the Holder video.
Guam: Members of Election Commission, senators gather for hearing on election reform bill | Pacific Daily News
A day before Democrat senators hope to override the governor’s veto of Bill 413, which would rewrite Guam’s election laws, a hearing was held on election reform. Gov. Eddie Calvo vetoed the election reform bill. The Democratic leadership in the Guam Legislature pushed for the election reform legislation, and added a provision to audit the ballots from the 2010 gubernatorial race.
Even as Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature were advancing a voter ID constitutional amendment on to the November ballot last week, DFLers were predicting court challenges. In 2011 Republicans passed a statutory photo ID requirement in both chambers, but their bill was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. This year the GOP-controlled House and Senate regrouped to pass the measure as a ballot question shortly before the Easter/Passover recess. The constitutional route, if successful, carries the twin benefits of bypassing Dayton and codifying the policy in a way that’s very difficult to reverse. Legal challenges are nothing new in states that have advanced voter ID proposals. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a photo ID law in Indiana. In other states — most recently, Wisconsin and Missouri — voter ID has stumbled in the courts for different reasons.
The Missouri House approved a new ballot summary Wednesday for a proposed constitutional amendment that would clear the way for a requirement that voters show photo identification. The move marked the second attempt by House members to write the summary, which would appear before voters as they decide on the voter ID proposal. The measure calling for the amendment cleared the Legislature last year, and lawmakers are working to put it on the ballot this year. The proposal would amend the Missouri Constitution to allow a state law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls and to permit an advanced voting period. Last month, Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce rejected the ballot summary that lawmakers approved for the proposal, calling it insufficient. But Joyce ruled that lawmakers could revise the ballot summary. House members approved the revised summary 102-55, and it now goes to the state Senate. Some have questioned whether the Legislature can use a resolution to change the ballot summary for a proposal that passed the Legislature in the preceding year.
Supporters of a bill requiring photo identification at the ballot box called it a balancing act between a person’s right to vote and a prohibition on those not qualified. Senate Bill 289 would require voters to present a photo identification to vote after Jan. 1, 2013, but no one would be denied the right to vote, officials said at a public hearing Tuesday before the House Election Law Committee. Qualified voters have the value of their votes diminished when unqualified voters caste ballots, said bill co-sponsor Rep. Daniel Itse, R-Fremont. “Rights come with obligations,” he said. However, opponents far outweighed supporters at the hearing. They said far more people will be discouraged from voting or disenfranchised than any amount of voter fraud the bill seeks to stop. “This is a solution in search of a program,” said former Rep. Joel Winter of Manchester. “This will disenfranchise far more people than the cases of voter fraud to be prevented.”
Update: The Tulsa County election board said they’ve discovered two missing ballots. The ballots were found inside a ballot box that was not retrieved by a precinct official on the night of the election. There’s a meeting Thursday with a District judge to determine what happens next. Wednesday’s recount changed the winner from Democrat Dan Arthrell to Republican Katie Henke.
A recount changed the outcome of a state house race. Election Day totals had a Democrat winning by three votes – but a recount Wednesday put the Republican ahead by one. Republican Katie Henke been certified as the winner of the race. Democrat Dan Arthrell finished ahead by three votes on election night, April 3, 2012, but lost 4 votes in the recount at the Tulsa County Election Board office Wednesday afternoon. Democrats want to know how it happened that the number of ballots counted on Election Day is different than the number of ballots counted Wednesday.
A recount has changed the outcome of a special election to fill an Oklahoma House of Representatives seat from Tulsa with the Republican nominee now the apparent winner by one vote. Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant told The Associated Press Wednesday that Republican Katie Henke received 1,415 votes to 1,414 to Democrat Dan Arthrell.
Democrats who conducted a policy committee hearing Wednesday questioned the necessity of the voter identification law enacted last month and the struggles it could present to Pennsylvania voters, as did many of those who testified about the law at the Waverly Community House. State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Taylor, requested the hearing in his home district and served as co-chairman. The law “slams the brakes” on progress made to provide greater access to persons with disabilities, said Keith Williams, Clarks Green Borough Council president, and a community organizer for the Northeast Pennsylvania Center for Independent Living.
Governor Bob McDonnell has made a some changes to that controversial voter ID legislation passed by the General Assembly. Some had feared the changes might keep the elderly and minorities from casting their ballots. In fact, voter Rhonda Acholes said she has was worried the changes could affect elderly folks in her community. For example, the measure states that a voter who shows up with no ID at the polls would have to cast a provisional ballot — and then show up later with an ID to prove their identity. Acholes feared some people would view the changes as a hassle and, in turn, be deterred from going to the polls.
Jay Inslee and Sam Reed are both right. A special election to pick a replacement for Inslee in the 1st Congressional District could cost state taxpayers close to $1 million, as Secretary of state Reed says. But the extra election won’t cost that much, as Inslee says. “The overall cost (of the 2012 election) doesn’t change,” Kitsap County Auditor Walt Washington said. Well, it changes a little, he said. Putting another choice on the primary and general election ballots adds maybe $5,000 to each election in Kitsap County. But while the overall bill is pretty much staying the same, the state is required to pick up a little more of the tab because it is a special election.
We’re less than a month from the recall primary. The general election will be in June. The local costs for the election are adding up. Election officials say figuring out turnout for the recall election is a lot like taking a shot in the dark. “I’m just trying to think of is it going to be like a normal partisan primary or is it going to be like an April election, or is it going to be higher turnout than that, so we’re trying to get our head around what exactly a good guess would be because we do have to order the ballots now,” says Eau Claire County clerk Janet Loomis. That turnout drives the cost of those elections. “I’m thinking around 25 percent for the primary, maybe 40 or better for the June,” Loomis says. Eau Claire County is expected to spend an extra $20,000 just to print the ballots for the recalls.
The People’s Assembly (the lower house of Egypt’s parliament) devoted a special session on Wednesday afternoon to discussing proposed legislation aimed at prohibiting figures associated with ousted president Hosni Mubarak from contesting upcoming presidential elections. The assembly reportedly decided to convene after several MPs expressed fears that the bill, drafted by the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party, might be ruled unconstitutional. “The problem is that the bill contradicts Article 26 of the constitutional declaration [issued in March of last year by the ruling military council and approved via popular referendum], which does not set any conditions on the presidency,” said Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mohamed Attia. “Once the law is passed by the assembly, it must be scrutinised by the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to determine its constitutionality.” Echoing the opinion of most MPs, Attia added that “any undue haste in passing the law will make people think it was tailored to serve the needs of a particular group or to prevent a particular person from contesting the presidency.”
Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has called elections on 6 May, after five months of technocratic government. Mr Papademos, an economist, was made prime minister last November to help steer Greece through its debt crisis. He told a cabinet meeting that the government had left behind “an important legacy” and would continue its work during the election campaign. After asking President Karolos Papoulias to dissolve parliament, he will then speak on national TV. The election will be Greece’s first since the start of the debt crisis that has led to drastic spending cuts and violent protests. Opinion polls suggest parties opposed to austerity could make big gains. The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens says the 6 May date comes after months of speculation and raises the prospect of a short and highly-charged campaign.
Violence in Libya risks escalating and could even derail elections if the interim government fails to impose its authority by disarming militias and strengthening the judiciary, analysts say. In the southern desert cities of Sabha and Kufra, clashes pitting Arabs against non-Arab tribesmen have cost more than 250 lives since February, according to an AFP tally based on official estimates. Inter-communal fighting in Libya’s west last week left at least 20 people dead and hundreds wounded before the government secured a ceasefire with the help of the nascent army and revolutionary brigades. The unrest coupled with calls for autonomy in the east has raised concerns over the ruling National Transitional Council’s grip on power in the country where decades of dictatorship left an institutional void.
South Korea’s ruling party claimed a majority Thursday in a parliamentary vote that centered on domestic issues but had implications for Seoul’s relationship with the North. President Lee Myung-bak’s conservative Saenuri Party was expected to win at least 152 seats while his liberal rivals were set to claim 140 in the race for 300 parliamentary seats, the National Election Commission said with 1 percent of ballots left uncounted. South Koreans went to the polls a day earlier. Ties between the two Koreas plummeted during Lee’s tenure, with two attacks Seoul blames on Pyongyang killing 50 South Koreans in 2010. North Korea also conducted a long-range rocket launch and tested a nuclear device in 2009.