The Voting News Daily: The People vs. the “Corporate People”, DISCLOSE Act Will Make Mandatory Disclosure Mandatory

Editorials: The People vs. the “Corporate People” | The Motley Fool The Supreme Court’s Citizens United case, which helped further open the floodgates for corporate political spending in America, is about an ongoing and extremely contentious issue. Even before the ruling, there was plenty of reason to believe the deep-pocketed “corporate people” had far more…

Editorials: The People vs. the “Corporate People” | The Motley Fool

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United case, which helped further open the floodgates for corporate political spending in America, is about an ongoing and extremely contentious issue. Even before the ruling, there was plenty of reason to believe the deep-pocketed “corporate people” had far more influence on politics than regular people, and it was a bit amazing to think that corporate interests were given the go-ahead to exert even more power over political outcomes. In California, lawmakers recently put forth a resolution to overturn the unpopular decision, further asking Congress for a constitutional amendment to that end. Obviously, many regular people simply can’t accept the “corporate personhood” argument. The fact that corporate money is equated with “free speech” for these inhuman entities is pretty hard to swallow, too.

Voting Blogs: DISCLOSE Act Will Make Mandatory Disclosure Mandatory | Brennan Center for Justice

For decades, the one piece of campaign finance reform that Democrats and Republicans agreedabout was the importance of disclosure. For example, in 2000, House Republican Amo Houghton explained that “[w]e need disclosure by section 527 organizations, but when 501(c) groups intervene in the political process, they should disclose what they are doing and who is paying for it as well.” Lately, though, the GOP has changed its mind about political transparency, and the current debate over increased disclosure requirements for independent election spending has sharply divided on partisan lines. Given the huge volumes of money being spent to swing the 2012 election — with millions being spent by non-profit 501(c) groups with secret donors — it’s long past time for a new bipartisan consensus in favor of transparency. Democrats like Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who recently introduced the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 in the Senate, are leading the way, but they need a new generation of Republican leaders to join them.

Colorado: State high court to review Aspen ballot-images case |

The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear the city of Aspen’s motion to appeal September’s state Court of Appeals ruling that favored political activist Marilyn Marks’ lawsuit challenging the city’s denial of her request to view ballot images from the 2009 mayoral race. According to the city, the Court of Appeals erred when it held that the Colorado Constitution does not protect the secrecy of ballots. On Nov. 11, the city requested a review of the case by the state Supreme Court. “In elections, there is a functional conflict between two important values: the ability to verify election results and the right of voters to a secret ballot,” the city’s motion states. “All election systems used in the United States since the introduction of the secret ballot in the (late 19th century) have sought to strike a compromise between these two values. In arriving at a compromise, election systems have uniformly given greater weight to secrecy over verifiability.”  The motion goes on to say that since 1876, the Colorado Legislature has enacted numerous laws to secure the purity of elections and “guard against the abuses of the elective franchise.”

Florida: Senate Argues for Its New Redistricting Map | Sunshine State News

The second draft of the Legislature’s redistricting plan for the state Senate answered all of the objections of the Florida Supreme Court to the first proposal and should get justices’ approval, according to a Senate brief in the case. The brief, filed in response to complaints by the Florida Democratic Party, a coalition of voting-rights groups and the NAACP, came a week before oral arguments on the plan before the court. Also on Friday, the justices issued an order dividing two hours of arguments among the Senate and the groups opposing the plan. Lawyers for the upper chamber argued in the 100-page filing that the new plan, approved by the Legislature after justices rejected the first draft, “addressed each of the flaws this court found.”

Idaho: Election officials challenged by May primary | KBOI 2

Idaho’s May 15 primary election is fast approaching and because of some big changes, election officials around the state are expecting a challenging time. In the May primary, voters must pick their political party and vote only that ballot. “A lot of people are not going to want to declare a party choice,” said Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. “We know this from experience.” And, according to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, 649,645 registered voters have yet to declare a party choice. But under a new idaho law, voters must declare their political affiliation unless the party says otherwise.

Ohio: GOP leaders sue over provisional ballots | The Marietta Times

Ohio’s elections chief is violating the state constitution by requiring county election boards to follow a federal court decree instead of state law when it comes to counting provisional ballots, GOP lawmakers alleged in a lawsuit Monday. At issue are requirements for providing identification when a voter has to cast a provisional ballot, typically a ballot cast in the wrong precinct. A 2006 state law laid out the requirements for when such ballots are counted, starting with voters who have only the last four digits of a Social Security number as identification. In general, state law is more restrictive than the federal decree when it comes to prohibiting provisional ballots. For example, the law doesn’t allow provisional ballots for votes cast in the wrong precinct because of a poll worker’s mistake, whereas the decree would allow such votes to be counted.

Oklahoma: Candidates in Tulsa House election recount ask Oklahoma Supreme Court to take jurisdiction | The Republic

Attorneys for both candidates involved in a contested special election for an Oklahoma House of Representatives seat from Tulsa asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday to take the case. Democratic candidate Dan Arthrell, whose three-vote lead in this month’s election was overturned in a recount, said he asked the court to intervene. A court referee did not immediately issue a recommendation for whether the court would take the case. The filing comes after initial returns showed Arthrell defeating Republican Katie Henke by three votes in the April 3 special election to fill the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Dan Sullivan. Henke then asked for a manual recount, which was held Tuesday. Arthrell received four fewer votes, resulting in a one-vote win for Henke. Shortly after the Tulsa County Election Board certified the results, two uncounted ballots — both for Arthrell — were found in a bin beneath an election machine.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia election commissioners probe excessive vote counts |

Philadelphia city commissioners are investigating an unusual series of over-votes in last year’s primary election – 83 voting divisions citywide where the official vote totals were bigger than the recorded number of voters who showed up. In most locations, the discrepancies were small, just a handful of votes. In many instances, minor procedural mistakes could account for the anomalies. But so far, the bulk of the over-voting has not been explained. Until they understand what happened, the commissioners say, they cannot rule out the possibility of deliberate, illegal efforts to run up votes for favored candidates, with the perpetrators losing count as they tried to cover their tracks. In a situation like that, the tiny numbers of over-votes might be red flags for a much larger problem with the underlying vote totals.

Wisconsin: Fake Democrats acceptable in recall election, Wisconsin officials say | Herald Times Reporter

Six Republicans running as Democrats in this spring’s recall elections should be allowed a place on the ballot, state election officials said Monday. The state Government Accountability Board is scheduled to vote today on whether to disqualify the candidates. Board attorney Michael Haas wrote in a memo to the board that the candidates should be allowed to run because state law doesn’t require people to prove they belong to any political party before they can run for office. Voters can condone or condemn the candidates at the polls, Haas wrote. “(The candidates’ actions) are products of political calculation and decision-making, and as such they can be rewarded or rejected during the course of the campaigns and the elections,” Haas wrote. Democrats have forced Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republicans into recall elections to punish them for passing a contentious law last year that stripped public workers of their union rights. The GAB has scheduled elections for May 8 and June 5. The state Republican Party openly recruited candidates to run as fake Democrats in every race. The move ensures a Democratic primary will be held in every race May 8. That means no Republican incumbent will have to face a general election that day, when Democrats will be out in force to pick their gubernatorial challenger.

Wisconsin: Supreme Court refuses to take up Wisconsin voter ID cases | JSOnline

The state Supreme Court refused Monday to immediately take up a pair of cases that struck down the state’s new voter ID law, a decision that will likely mean citizens won’t have to show identification when they cast ballots in recall elections in May and June. The court’s terse orders send the cases back to two different appeals panels, though the cases could eventually return to the Supreme Court. The justices issued their orders just three weeks before the May 8 primary for Democrats to pick a candidate to run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the June 5 recall election. Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan in March blocked the voter ID law for the April presidential primary, saying it likely disenfranchised voters, based on testimony that there are more than 220,000 Wisconsin residents who do not have photo IDs but who are otherwise qualified to vote. A trial in that case began Monday, and Flanagan is expected to decide whether to lift his injunction or block the law permanently after it concludes this week. The case was brought by the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera.

Wisconsin: Supreme Court won’t take voter ID cases, law remains blocked pending Appeals Court action | AP

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider the state’s appeals of two rulings blocking Wisconsin’s new voter ID law from taking effect, leaving the issue to lower courts to decide even with recall elections against the governor and five other Republican officials only weeks away.The  court didn’t explain why it wasn’t taking up the state’s appeals in its two single-page orders, which it issued hours after a trial began in one of the cases. The decision means the law, which would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, will remain blocked pending a ruling by one of the appeals courts, which could come before the May 8 primary elections or June 5 general elections. Gov. Scott Walker, the lieutenant governor and three Republican state senators are facing recall elections, and the seat of another GOP senate recall target who recently stepped down is also up for grabs.

East Timor: Ex-army chief wins East Timor presidency | Reuters

The former army chief and guerrilla fighter Jose Maria de Vasconcelos has won East Timor’s presidential elections, an election official said on Tuesday, citing provisional results. Vasconcelos, known as Taur Matan Ruak, won about 61 percent of the 452,000 votes that have been counted so far, Tomas Cabral, an election commission official, was quoted as saying on local television and radio in the capital Dili. “The tally is still being updated but it indicates that Taur Matan Ruak has gotten the majority of votes,” said Cabral.

Egypt: In a confused political process, Egypt’s military steps back into role in new constitution | Daily Reporter

Egypt’s ruling military has inserted a new element of confusion even as Egypt tries to sort out turmoil surrounding its upcoming presidential elections. The generals now insist a new constitution be written before a new president is seated, a rushed timeframe that some fear may prolong their hold on power. For weeks, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists sought to dominate the writing of the country’s first new constitution since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago. But after Islamist domination of the process sparked a backlash of criticism, the military has stepped back in to take a more direct role. The military’s new assertiveness has split the national debate. Some liberals have welcomed the military’s weight to counteract the increasing power of Islamists. Others, however, worry that the generals aim to continue their control over Egypt beyond their promised deadline for handing over power to a civilian president by the end of June.

Editorials: The Meaning of Omar Suleiman | Steve Clemons/Huffington Post

Egypt’s Presidential Election Commission has deemed ten candidates unqualified for the upcoming election battle to succeed the toppled Hosni Mubarak.  They include the surprise candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater; the more radical Islamist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail; and Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s long time spymaster. Egyptian citizens are massing in Tahrir Square protesting anti-democratic manipulation by the Commission as well as protesting in various pockets of the square this or that candidate on the roster — or, as it were, not on the roster. Of those in the current public glare, however, Omar Suleiman is the person I find most fascinating and perhaps consequential.

Estonia: Parliament Seeks to Make Internet Voting More Transparent | ERR

Parliament is looking to amend the electronic voting procedure in such a way as to make it possible for voters to check whether their votes have been registered correctly. Starting from 2005, e-voting has been used in five elections in Estonia. In order to make the system more reliable and trustworthy, legislators are now looking for a way to make it possible for voters to check whether their votes have been registered correctly. This solution was proposed in response to the concerns that arose during the last elections regarding the possibility of voters’ computers being tampered with, reported ETV. “In the case of a virus that blocks voting, a person may think that he has voted, when in fact the vote has not reached the system. This is why we came up with the idea of giving voters an opportunity to check their votes,” said Reform Party MP and member of Parliament’s Constitutional Committee Andrei Korobeinik. According to him, the voter’s computer is the weakest link in the chain and vote checking is one of the most complicated issues being tackled at the moment. “The initial idea is that the voter will be shown an image that he can photograph off the screen using his mobile phone, and then the system will tell him whether his vote has been registered correctly or not,” he explained.

Iraq: Arrest Calls Fair Elections Into Question |

In making the optimistic case for the development of democracy here, American officials typically point to the 2010 parliamentary elections, which were judged largely free and fair by international monitors including the United Nations. But with the arrest of the head of Iraq’s election commission, the prospect for fair elections has been thrown into question. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, center, in March. He has been seeking to consolidate control over the electoral commission. Faraj al-Haidari, chief of the Independent High Electoral Commission, spent most of the weekend in a jail cell after being arrested on corruption charges on Thursday. He was released on Sunday afternoon after posting bail of $12,500.