Wisconsin: Trial in Wisconsin voter ID lawsuit begins | Channel3000

A trial began Monday in a case challenging Wisconsin’s law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Also on Monday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said that it won’t be taking up two cases pertaining to the state’s controversial voter ID law. That means the trial starting Monday in one of the two lawsuits is proceeding. The news came as lawyers made opening arguments in connection to a lawsuit brought by the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera, an immigrants’ rights group. Both groups argue the law disenfranchises voters. NAACP attorney Richard Saks said testimony will show there are hundreds of thousands of voters who don’t have the required ID necessary to vote. “As such, this law needlessly imposes an onerous and unreasonable burden on otherwise qualified voters from participating in elections in the state of Wisconsin,” Saks said.

The Voting News Daily: Voting News Daily 4/16: Public Access to Election Databases, Scytl vote count controversy

Blogs: Outside Looking In? Public Access to Election Databases | Election Academy The Indianapolis Star recently ran an editorial calling on the Marion County Election Board to give access to five “unslated” (i.e., non party endorsed) candidates running in the Hoosier State’s May 8 primary. Here’s the crux of the issue, from the editorial: The unslated candidates…

Voting Blogs: Outside Looking In? Public Access to Election Databases | Election Academy

The Indianapolis Star recently ran an editorial calling on the Marion County Election Board to give access to five “unslated” (i.e., non party endorsed) candidates running in the Hoosier State’s May 8 primary.

Here’s the crux of the issue, from the editorial:

The unslated candidates point out that the database is a public record compiled at taxpayer expense. The state Public Access Counselor has informally sided with them, but has advised that the Marion County Election Board adopt a policy ordering the registration board to act.In a special meeting last week, County Clerk Beth White moved to do so. Neither of her fellow election board members offered a second. Patrick Dietrick and Mark Sullivan both are party appointees; but each said he needed to know more about the cost and complexity of releasing the data, as well as the privacy implications.

Editorials: Digging deeper into the 2012 Scytl vote count controversy | Examiner.com

The news story being circulated around the alternative media concerning the Spanish company SCYTL and its contracts with 900 U.S. voter jurisdictions is a complicated one. And it is one that has tended to lend itself to broad generalizations and, in some cases, misinformation. Digging deeper into the vote tabulation controversy should help separate fact from fiction.  First, it is important to consider what has been discovered to be either fiction or at the very least unconfirmed speculation. Rumors, innuendo, and opinions that cannot be verified by the paper trail cannot be considered fact, although there may be some kernel of truth within them. A perfect example is the oft repeated claim that George Soros owns SCYTL. There is no evidence that the Leftwing billionaire has any financial stake in the company. SCYTL is funded by three sources, venture capital corporations that specialize in investing in privately owned companies. Those three sources are Balderton Capital, Nauta Capital, and Spinnaker SCR. SCYTL’s board of directors and information concerning its founder can be found at the corporate website. Information on the company’s management team can be found here. However, all attempts to discover who exactly owns SCYTL have come up empty. The company is listed in all official profiles as a “privately owned corporation,” but no information is given as to the identities of the private owners.

Editorials: How Gender Identity May Determine the Right to Vote in 2012 | Colorlines

American companies are born as private commercial entities, but thanks to the Citizens UnitedSupreme Court decision, suddenly they can transition to human status for the purpose of influencing an election with millions of dollars. Meanwhile, thousands of actual human citizens, who’ve only transitioned gender identity, may have less influence over elections—or no influence at all—because they’ll now face heavy burdens under strict photo voter ID laws. It’s an obscene paradox. Over 25,000 transgendered American citizens may face stiff barriers to voting in the November 2012 election according to the report “The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters,” released last week by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s law school. This is, by any measure, the portion of the electorate that is among the most marginalized and stigmatized, and hence probably most in need of the right to have a say in who governs their lives. But discussions on both sides of voter ID laws tend to leave out transgendered citizens in discussions about who would be most adversely impacted. I’m including myself in that critique. I briefly mentioned that transgendered citizens would be impacted in my first Voting Rights Watch blog, but have failed to consistently talk about their burdens in subsequent blogs. We often talk about black and Latino voters, elderly and student voterswomen and those with low incomes as having trouble satisfying new photo voter ID mandates, but many transgendered voters will have an incredibly tough set of challenges before them if they are to have their vote counted in November. The cost of getting the appropriate ID to vote in some jurisdictions will be as high as getting surgery.

Alaska: Assembly Appears Swayed Toward Anchorage Election Independent Review | Alaska Dispatch

The Anchorage Assembly is moving closer to hiring an independent investigator to examine the flawed April 3 election, following a recommendation by the city clerk’s office to do just that. Such a move would help reassure those who have lost faith in the offices of the municipal clerk and municipal attorney, said city clerk Barbara Gruenstein, after a two-hour work session on Friday. “The public wants to know more,” said Gruenstein. “It’s real clear that there are certain people that are distrusting my office and (municipal attorney) Dennis (Wheeler’s) office, but we’re open to getting out more information. It’s so sad, all the stuff that’s happened. But an independent person looking at it may give the public the confidence that they need back.” That now appears likely. Four Assembly members who on Tuesday voted against an independent investigator said Friday they could take that step early next week. Their support would likely swing the numbers in favor of an outside review, which failed 4-7.

Arizona: Election for Giffords’ seat a mercurial race | The Arizona Republic

The hasty race to fill Gabrielle Giffords’ former seat in Congress has set up a contest between her chosen Democratic successor and a mix of Republican candidates that could help to augur the outcome of other toss-up races throughout Arizona and the nation. The district that covers part of Tucson, Sierra Vista and a section of the U.S.-Mexico border is nearly split between Republicans and Democrats. Now, with a primary on Tuesday, candidates are scrambling to lock up the rest of their support, even as emotions remain raw over the 2011 shooting, which killed six and wounded 13, including Giffords. One GOP leader near Tucson choked up last month while wishing the three-term Democrat well before a debate among the four Republican candidates.

Minnesota: Secretary of State Ritchie uses election official role to move headfirst into voter ID battle | StarTribune.com

Thrust into the partisan hothouse of back-to-back statewide recounts, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie went out of his way to take on a referee persona despite the “D” after his name. But on the voter ID constitutional amendment now headed to the November ballot, he’s openly taken a side. Ritchie has steadily increased his opposition as the proposal advanced, to the point of arguing it will deprive voters of their rights. In the process, he has drawn blowback from Republicans and other supporters of the voting-law change, who accuse the state’s top elections officer of going too far. Ritchie acknowledged that he’s stepped outside of his default “stay out” approach to politics. “I’ve taken a very strong position in general that my job is to run the elections and be a partner with local election officials, and I stay out of other people’s lives and campaigns and their work,” Ritchie said. “But when something is about elections and about our basic election system, then I always take a more active role.”

Minnesota: Photo ID proponents, opponents readying for ballot battle | MinnPost

The political battle is already gearing up over Minnesota’s proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment, which was approved last week by the Legislature. At least three Ballot Question Committees have filed with the state board that tracks political organizations, and more groups are poised for the fight. Some groups are focusing on legal issues, preparing litigation opposing the amendment, which would require voters to show an ID and affect same-day registration and absentee balloting procedures. Others will focus on the political campaign, with both proponents and opponents trying to persuade voters about the Republican-backed initiative that will be on the November general- election ballot.

Pennsylvania: Primary Election to Test Pennsylvania Voter ID Law | GantDaily.com

In March, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law House Bill 934, also known as the Photo Voter ID bill, which will require Pennsylvanians to show photo identification at their polling place when they vote. “I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation. That principle is: one person, one vote,” Corbett said in a press release last month. “It sets a simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections.” The law went into effect immediately, but a photo ID will not be required for the primary election April 24. However, voters will be reminded at that time that a photo ID will be required for November’s general election.

Wisconsin: John Doe probe looms over Walker’s recall election | JSOnline

It’s the biggest question hanging over Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election: Will Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm file additional criminal charges as part of his John Doe probe before the June 5 election? For nearly two years, Chisholm’s office has been looking into various activities in Milwaukee County during Walker’s time as county executive. So far, prosecutors have brought charges against three ex-Walker aides, one appointee and a major campaign contributor. Chisholm has sent strong signals that additional charges are in the offing. Walker – who has set up a legal defense fund to pay his two lawyers – said recently that he trusted Chisholm and his staff to decide when and whether to file additional charges. “They’ll run their course one way or the other,” Walker said at a Milwaukee appearance last week. “It truly should be left up to them, and it’s why we’ve been able to cooperate so much.”

Afghanistan: Woman MP sets sights on Afghan presidency | Reuters

Condemned to die shortly after birth for being a girl, outspoken Afghan member of parliament Fawzia Koofi lived to become a champion of women’s rights and is now eyeing the presidency in 2014. The 36-year-old expects harsh opposition, threats of violence and pressure against her family as her campaign gets underway to replace Hamid Karzai, who must step down that year after serving the constitutional limit of two consecutive terms. “I am sure my campaign will be the noisiest. I will have lots of troubles against me,” the politician from the country’s remote northeastern Badakhshan province told Reuters in an interview this week. Koofi is the first person to declare an intention to run in the election, which is becoming increasingly fraught with confusion and uncertainty in the run-up to the withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.

Algeria: Election campaign begins in Algeria | Magharebia.com

Election fever is spreading in Algeria ahead of the official start of the campaign season on Sunday April 15th. Authorities have appealed to voters to participate in the May 10th elections and have invited international observers to witness the vote, giving assurances that the poll will be free and transparent. The ruling coalition that once held a majority in parliament and government no longer exists. The Movement for a Society of Peace (MSP) was the first to leave, even though it retains its ministerial posts in the government and its seats in parliament. MSP leader Bouguerra Soltani has formed a “Green Alliance” with two other Islamist parties, Ennahda and El Islah, with the goal of becoming head of the ruling coalition.

East Timor: Presidential run-off election in East Timor | BBC News

East Timor is electing a new president in a run-off vote between two former freedom fighters, ahead of a decade of independence next month. Opposition leader Francisco Guterres and former guerrilla leader Taur Matan Ruak are pitted against each other. The incumbent, President Jose Ramos-Horta, admitted defeat after trailing in third place in the first round of the election last month. Mr Ramos-Horta said he would hand over power to the winner on 19 May.

Egypt: Ten Candidates Barred From Egyptian Election | NYTimes.com

Egypt’s election commission disqualified 10 presidential hopefuls, including Hosni Mubarak’s former spy chief and key Islamists, from running Saturday in a surprise decision that threatened to upend an already tumultuous race. Farouk Sultan, the head of the Supreme Presidential Election Commission, said that those barred from the race Mubarak-era strongman Omar Suleiman, Muslim Brotherhood chief strategist Khairat el-Shater and hard-line lawyer-turned-preacher Hazem Abu Ismail. He didn’t give a reason. The announcement came as a shock to many Egyptians as three of the 10 excluded were considered among the front-runners in a highly polarized race that has left the country divided into two strong camps: Islamists and former insiders from the ousted regime who are allegedly supported by the country’s ruling military council. The disqualified candidates have 48 hours to appeal the decision, according to election rules. The final list of candidates will be announced on April 26. Thirteen others had their candidacy approved, including former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, according to Sultan.

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood refuses to accept candidate ban | USAToday.com

The Muslim Brotherhood said Sunday that it will fight the banning of its candidate for president that has thrown Egypt’s move toward elected civilian rule into disarray and threatens a return to massive street protests. “We do not accept it. We will challenge it,” said Gehad El-Haddad, a member of the steering committee for the Renaissance Project, which is at the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential campaign. Ten presidential candidates were barred from contesting the nation’s top job in a decision announced Saturday by the presidential election commission, five weeks before the presidential race is set to begin in May. The decision comes at the tail end of a week marred by a slew of shocks and shifts — from a candidate jumble to a march on Tahrir Square— that persisted in shaking the pre-election period.

Iraq: Political factions accuse Prime Minister of ‘dictatorship’ after arrest of election official | Al-Arabiya

Key political factions accused the premier of moving towards a dictatorship with the arrest of Iraq’s electoral commission chief, a charge the prime minister denied on Saturday. Faraj al-Haidari, head of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), was detained on Thursday for alleged corruption along with another of the body’s members, Karim al-Tamimi. Anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of being behind the arrests to obstruct the electoral process, joining other key Iraqi political actors who have made the same charge. “The one who ordered the arrest is, to be precise, brother Nuri al-Maliki,” Sadr said in a statement issued by his office in Najaf.

Russia: Thousands protest election fraud in southern Russia | USAToday.com

Thousands of protesters rallied Saturday in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan to support a hunger-striking politician who alleges a recent mayoral race was marred by fraud, the latest show of determination by opposition forces. Shouting slogans such as “Astrakhan will be free,” the protesters for about four hours marched through the city, stopping at a park, a square and the politician’s headquarters, under the eye of phalanxes of police. At least three arrests were reported. The case of Oleg Shein. who claims the fraud denied him his rightful victory in the mayor’s race last month, has become prime cause for opposition figures who were at the forefront of this winter’s unprecedented huge protests in Moscow. Those protests and other large ones in St. Petersburg were sparked by reports of extensive fraud in December’s national parliamentary elections and they continued as the March 4 presidential election approached.

Egypt: Panel definitively bars top 3 presidential candidates from elections | The Washington Post

Egypt’s election commission rejected the appeals of three main contenders for president Tuesday, definitively removing the most polarizing candidates from the race to become the country’s first elected leader since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The disqualification of the three diminishes the chances that an Islamist candidate will win the presidency, but there are worries over the fallout from the decision, particularly from the supporters of one of the barred candidates, ultraconservative Islamist Hazem Abu Ismail. Around 2,000 Abu Ismail supporters had camped outside the commission’s headquarters since the previous day, demanding he be allowed to run. When the rejection was announced Tuesday evening, some of them threw stones at security and briefly scuffled with military police.