The Voting News Daily: R.N.C. Rejects Changes to Nominating Contests for 2016, Conservative Group Picks Up Voter ID Issue Where ALEC Left Off

National: R.N.C. Rejects Changes to Nominating Contests for 2016 | Members of the Republican National Committee considered — and rejected — changes to their presidential nominating process for 2016 after a contest this year that some members say was too long and drawn out. At a meeting here of the R.N.C.’s rules committee, members debated…

National: R.N.C. Rejects Changes to Nominating Contests for 2016 |

Members of the Republican National Committee considered — and rejected — changes to their presidential nominating process for 2016 after a contest this year that some members say was too long and drawn out. At a meeting here of the R.N.C.’s rules committee, members debated whether to abandon the proportional voting that gave Mitt Romney’s rivals the ability to try and accumulate delegates even as they failed to win the nominating contests. Sue Everhart, a committee member from Georgia, proposed the change, citing concerns about the length of the competition. She suggested changes that would have allowed states to hold winner-take-all contests in 2016, potentially bringing the contest to a close more quickly.

National: Conservative Group Picks Up Voter ID Issue Where ALEC Left Off | TPM

Shortly after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) announced it was dropping voter identification laws from its agenda, another conservative group is stepping in to fill the void. The National Center for Public Policy Research announced this week it had formed a “Voter Identification Task Force” to continue ALEC’s “excellent work” in “promoting measures to enhance integrity in voting.” Describing itself as a “conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank,” the group was established in 1982. “The fact that ALEC is no longer going to be offering the services it did got us interested in doing something,” National Center for Public Policy Research executive director David Almasi told TPM. “We obviously can’t do everything ALEC did, but we can do something to make sure the issue doesn’t go away.”

National: Reformers in uphill battle against Super PAC money | Medill on the Hill

For Buddy Roemer, it’s all about the Benjamins. But he’ll only accept one at a time. The former governor and congressman from Louisiana and current presidential candidate has capped his campaign contributions at just $100 per donor in a symbolic move to stand up against corporate corruption in government. “I came to the decision that Washington wasn’t broken: it was bought,” Roemer said. “The only way to be president was to be free to lead. I decided to set a very low margin, $100, and ask every American to consider joining the election long before he votes.” As of Feb. 13, the  Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics reported that more than $71 million has been spent by outside organizations. But Roemer not only limits contributions, he also refuses to take any money from Super PACs, which he views as illegal and corrupt.

National: Crossroads Political Machine Funded Mostly By Secret Donors |

Sixty-two percent of funds raised by two conservative groups associated with former Bush adviser Karl Rove have come from mystery donors, a statistic that shows the increasingly important role being played by nonprofits in a post-Citizens United political world. American Crossroads, a super PAC, and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a nonprofit, were founded in 2010 by Rove and another former Bush adviser, Ed Gillespie. Together, they raised $123 million through the end of 2011, according to an iWatch News review of Federal Election Commission data and Internal Revenue Service filings. Of that sum, $76.8 million, or 62 percent, went to Crossroads GPS, which is a nonprofit, “social welfare” group organized under section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code. Like American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS can pay for advertising that attacks political opponents by name and urges viewers to vote against them. But unlike the super PAC, GPS is prohibited from making politics its “primary purpose,” according to the IRS, a rule that these politically active nonprofits have interpreted to mean they can spend up to 49 percent of their funds on such advertising.

National: Rethinking the early vote | Campaigns & Elections

Have an early vote plan from a competitive 2010 contest in Florida? It may not even be worth looking at in preparation for this fall, strategists warn. The early vote landscape has changed markedly in battlegrounds across the country with several states over the past year shortening the window to cast in-person early votes. Among them, the swing states of Florida and Wisconsin. The changes will have campaigns in those states—and nationally—going back to the drawing board when it comes to the early vote, and likely having to spend additional resources to educate voters on the changes. “You have to divert resources and you have to plan ahead,” says Phillip Stutts, a Republican strategist. Stutts served as national director of the RNC’s 72-hour task force in 2004. The key questions campaigns should be asking, according to Stutts: “Do we hold money back now to put it into getting out the vote for early voting? Or, if [the early voting window] condenses, can we use more of that money for TV, for radio? Maybe we run a couple more mail pieces, or hire more staff?”

Alaska: New redistricting map draws protests | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Last week, the Alaska Redistricting Board signed off on a redrawn plan it hoped would resolve a slew of issues that led the Alaska Supreme Court to throw it out, but it’s already facing widespread opposition. Seven parties, including the plaintiffs who first brought the lawsuit and the Fairbanks North Star Borough, filed objections against the redistricting board’s new election district map earlier this week. While the objections have a wide range of specific concerns, the general theme throughout is that the board hadn’t followed the a process set out in an earlier redistricting battle. The process, known as the Hickel Process, requires the board to draw a plan that complies with the Alaska Constitution’s requirements for socioeconomic contiguity and district compactness, then test it against the federal Voting Rights Act before making any deviations to comply with the federal requirements.

Georgia: State settles voter registration suit  |

The state of Georgia has settled a lawsuit by agreeing to provide the opportunity to register to vote every time people apply for public assistance benefits, a coalition of civil rights groups said Thursday. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who signed off on the agreement, condemned the litigation. He said the settlement will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to comply with “outdated and unneeded federal voter registration mandates and in attorneys fees paid to venue-shopping interest groups.” The lawsuit alleged the state had been ignoring its obligations under the National Voter Registration Act. The settlement details procedures the state must follow for distributing voter registration applications to public assistance clients when they arrive in person or contact the Department of Human Services by phone, over the Internet or by mail.

New York: Four elections during 2012 draw criticism for cost | The Journal News

If you love to vote, 2012 is your year. Four major elections will take place in New York this year, starting with Tuesday’s presidential primary. Primaries for U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives follow June 26, and primaries for state and local offices come Sept. 11. The general election caps off the season Nov. 6. “I guess you really get to be a part of the process this year,” Rockland County Republican Election Commissioner Louis Babcock said. The abundance of elections has raised several concerns, including the cost of holding so many and whether voters will keep turning out. “It’s costly and it’s taxing on the voters to come out that many times,” Westchester County Republican Election Commissioner Doug Colety said.

Pennsylvania: Absentee ballots harbor security flaw |

Safeguards against tampering with election results are in place throughout the election process, but for Pennsylvania’s absentee voters, a potential security breach exists. Printed on the envelope used to return completed absentee ballots is an “R” or “D,” noting the voter’s Republican or Democratic party affiliation. A person intent on influencing election results could weed out unopened ballots of one party. All they would need is access to the mails. That could happen in a college mail room or another origination point, at the post office, during delivery or when county mail is being sorted. The envelope marking is plain to see, but many Pennsylvanians outside of election officials are unaware of it.

Editorials: Could Texas Voter I.D. Case Dismantle U.S. Civil Rights Law? | Public News Service

Court watchers say a Texas case could trigger the dismantling of a decades-old civil rights law. Steven Shapiro, the American Civil Liberties Union’s national legal director, is to speak in Houston today, analyzing recent trends by the nation’s highest court. Texas is among nine mostly southern states with a history of discrimination which are required by the 1965 Voting Rights Act to get federal clearance before changing election rules. That’s why a new Texas voter-photo-ID law is on hold: It failed to win the Justice Department’s blessing. The state is now suing, and the case is likely to head to the U.S. Supreme Court. “The court has dropped some hints that it’s prepared to rethink the whole issue. I would like to believe that the court will not strike down what I think has been the single most successful civil rights law in American history, but I think people are appropriately anxious.”

Virginia: Voter ID bill in McDonell’s hands | The Washington Post

Virginia Democrats are urging Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to veto a pair of voter ID bills after the General Assembly this week stripped out a provision the governor had added to make the measures less stringent. Among the most hotly contested legislation of the session, the bills were touted by Republicans as a way to ensure the integrity of elections but bitterly opposed by Democrats as attempts to suppress the minority vote.

Wisconsin: Judge postpones voter ID law decision until after recall election | Wausau Daily Herald

A lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s voter identification law won’t be resolved before this spring’s recall elections. Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan set a schedule Thursday that will extend the case at least several weeks beyond the June 5 general recall election, saying the matter is complex and he wants to give attorneys ample time to document their arguments. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and immigrant advocacy group Voces de la Frontera filed a lawsuit in Madison in December alleging the ID requirements place an unreasonable burden on voters. But state attorneys argue few people lack photo IDs and say concerns about obtaining IDs are overblown.

Wisconsin: Van Hollen appeals redistricting ruling to U.S. Supreme Court | JSOnline

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to overturn a decision by a three-judge panel that found maps of two state Assembly districts violated Latinos’ voting rights. The U.S. Supreme Court is required to take the case and will have the final say on what election maps are in place around the state for the next decade starting this fall. A panel of federal judges in Milwaukee last month ruled that Assembly Districts 8 and 9 on Milwaukee’s south side violated the Voting Rights Act. This month the panel approved new maps for the two districts drawn by Democrats and Latinos who sued the state over the issue. Those who sued, including the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, contended that a host of maps for other legislative and congressional districts violated the law, but the panel did not side with them on those arguments.

France: Elections 2012: ‘It’s All About Emotion’ | Huffington Post

Like Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy swept to power on a wave of hope for change. Sarkozy’s wave crashed on the global financial crisis and his own failings. On Sunday, the French leader faces a tough fight against nine challengers in presidential elections awash in fear and anger. This has been a race of negative emotion and nostalgia for a more protected past: One of the world’s top tourist destinations and biggest economies, France is feeling down about its debts, its immigrants, its stagnant paychecks, and above all its future. To voters, the conservative Sarkozy gets much of the blame. While he’s likely to make it past Sunday’s first-round voting and into the decisive second round May 6, polls show his support waning. They predict another man will trounce Sarkozy in the runoff and take over the Elysee Palace: Socialist Francois Hollande.

France: Media Question Election Reporting Rules |

After months of noisy campaigning in the presidential race — rousing the crowds, pressing flesh, inundating Twitter — France’s politicians and pollsters fell silent at midnight Friday, by law. Until 8 p.m. Sunday, election day, when the last polling places close in the first round of voting, the country’s 10 presidential candidates may not give speeches or interviews, distribute fliers or update their campaign Web sites or Facebook pages. And no media outlet, pollster or citizen is to publish voting data of any kind — no leaked exit polls, no hints on Twitter — on pain of a fine of up to 75,000 euros, or $99,000. Traditionally France discovers the initial results together, all at once, at 8 p.m. on election night. This year, however, the great, borderless Internet may disrupt the best plans of the French authorities. In recent weeks, media organizations in neighboring Belgium and Switzerland — where public interest in the French election runs high, but feelings of civic duty toward France run low — have made known their intent to publish results from districts where polls close at 6 p.m. as soon as they are available, around 6:30 p.m., 90 defiant minutes before authorized by French law.

Guinea-Bissau: International censure as Guinea-Bissau junta names president | DW.DE

Guinea-Bissau’s junta has named a failed presidential candidate to govern the country for two years. The United Nations has condemned the move in West Africa’s narcotics hub. The naming of Manuel Serifo Nhamajo, the former speaker of parliament, to head an interim government was made jointly late Thursday by the military – whose coup last week preempted a presidential election runoff – and Guinea-Bissau’s main opposition, the Party for Social Renewal. Nhamajo’s nomination was immediately rejected by the ousted governing party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Its secretary general, Luis Olivares, described the appointment as “unconstitutional.”

Serbia: Giuliani Wades Into World of Messy Balkan Politics |

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was dragged into the swirling waters of Balkan politics on Friday after participating in public events with two opposition-party candidates in hotly contested election fights in Serbia. A senior politician from the Serbian Progressive Party, Aleksandar Vucic, who is running for mayor of Belgrade, said he invited Mr. Giuliani to advise him on how to revitalize the Serbian capital on the Danube River and pull it from an economic slump. Mr. Giuliani, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and now works as a consultant, also met with Tomislav Nikolic, the party’s candidate for president, in what is expected to be a close race against the pro-Western incumbent, Boris Tadic, of the Democrat Party. Messrs. Vucic and Nikolic used to be prominent members of a staunchly nationalistic party that opposed European Union membership and condemned U.S. involvement in the Balkans. They left in 2008 and launched the Progressive Party, which says it supports Serbia’s eventual membership in the EU.

United Kingdom: MP Martin Vickers backs call for new powers to recall elected representatives | This is Grimsby

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers has backed calls for the introduction of new powers that will allow voters to recall MPs. The Conservative MP has signed a Parliamentary petition, known as an Early Day Motion, welcoming the Coalition Agreement commitment to introduce a power of recall for constituents to recall their MPs. However, the motion expresses disappointment that a recall vote will only happen if the Committee On Standards And Privileges deems an MP to be “guilty of serious wrongdoing”.