The Voting News Daily: FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won’t Stay Ruling, Ninth Circuit Rejects Effort to Apply HAVA to Local Recount

National: FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won’t Stay Ruling | Huffington Post A court rulingrequiring non-disclosing political groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity — to disclose their donors is one step closer to going into effect after a district court refused to stay its…

National: FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won’t Stay Ruling | Huffington Post

court rulingrequiring non-disclosing political groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity — to disclose their donors is one step closer to going into effect after a district court refused to stay its ruling in the face of an appeal. On March 30, a district court ruled in Van Hollen v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) that a loophole in FEC rules that allowed certain independent group campaign efforts to keep private the names of donors was invalid and needed to be rewritten or reset to the original language. On Friday, the court not only refused to stay the ruling, as requested by two intervening groups that are appealing the case, the Center for Individual Freedom and the Hispanic Leadership Fund, but the court also found that its ruling invalidated the FEC loophole, which required it to be immediately closed, resetting to the original language in the McCain-Feingold campaign reform law, known officially as the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).

National: Ninth Circuit Rejects Effort to Apply Help America Vote Act to Local Recount |

Federal law does not require states and localities to use a particular method of recounting ballots in elections for non-federal offices, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday. The court affirmed a district judge’s ruling dismissing a suit by Martin Crowley against the state of Nevada and the Churchill County clerk. Crowley sought declaratory relief and damages after a recount of a 2006 election for justice of the peace, which he lost by 26 votes, failed to change the results. Crowley brought suit under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 and Sec. 301 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. HAVA was enacted in response to problems in Florida and elsewhere during the 2002 elections, and established standards for the conduct of federal elections and authorized payments to state and local governments to replace antiquated voting systems.

Editorials: FCC Brings Sunlight to Elections, But the SEC Needs to Help, Too | Ciara Torres-Spelliscy/Huffington Post

2010 was a dark, even apocryphal election during which much of the political spending was from groups who did not reveal themselves. In the 2012 election, we might just have a bit more transparency. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited sums on elections. The case also ruled that transparency rules still apply to political ads. Justice Kennedy wrote, “A campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure has not existed before to-day.” This phrase from the court basically cries out for the political branches to act to bring better disclosure to elections. At long last, at least one federal agency has awakened from its deep slumber to bring the public improved transparency on political spending. It wasn’t the moribund Federal Election Commission (FEC). On April 27, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to place broadcasters’ political files online. This is a big step in the right direction.

Alaska: Anchorage election: Still not certified | Anchorage Press

Three weeks after an election marred by ballot shortages at precincts all over town, and a report that at least one ballot machine with a broken security seal was in use, the Anchorage Assembly has not hired an outside investigator to sort through the election mess. New Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall made a sobering announcement about the situation at the opening of Tuesday, April 24, Anchorage Assembly meeting. Hall had planned to—and he said, “hoped to”—announce two names that night. One would lead an investigation of election procedures and the other would provide a second legal opinion on whether election results can be certified. (Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler has previously advised the assembly to certify the results. Wheeler is a mayoral appointee whose boss just won re-election—just one of the sticky wickets assembly must navigate.)
“All I can do is ask for your continued patience and assure you that every effort is being made to get these individuals started absolutely as fast as we can,” Hall said. His announcement include a goal, to certify the election at a special assembly meeting Thursday, May 3, which he said also sets a deadline for an outside lawyer’s opinion on certification. “That is one [hire] I am particularly focused on,” Hall said.

Arizona: U.S. Justice Department signs off on district maps | Arizona Republic

The U.S. Department of Justice approved Arizona’s new legislative map Thursday, making official what most candidates are already taking for granted. The approval marks the first time in four decades that Arizona’s legislative map has won Justice Department approval on the first submission, according to attorneys for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The agency had no objections to the map, which the commission approved in January. It creates 30 new legislative districts across the state to reflect population shifts over the past decade. Most candidates eyeing a seat in the Legislature have already relied on the new map as they have declared their intentions to run.

Florida: Rubio fined for taking improper donations |

The Federal Election Commission has fined Sen. Marco Rubio $8,000 for accepting more than $210,000 in improper contributions during his 2010 run for the Senate. In a negotiated settlement finalized last month but only publicly released now, Marco Rubio for Senate acknowledged taking in more than $210,000 in “prohibited, excessive and other impermissible contributions” during his Senate campaign and failing to refund or “redesignate” the funds within the allowed time frame.

Editorials: Voter ID – what lurks in Minnesota’s proposed amendment | Mike Dean/

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Unfortunately, Kent Kaiser’s piece (“Photo ID: An end to ‘same-day’ registration in Minnesota? Not true,” April 17) attempts to distort what is actually lurking in the voter ID constitutional amendment. Under current Minnesota law, this proposed constitutional amendment to change Minnesota’s election system would force every person who registers in the polling place on Election Day to submit a provisional ballot; that is, they would not be allowed to cast a real ballot. This fundamental change is required because the amendment says that “All voters must be subject to substantially equivalent eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.” While most people understandably won’t grasp the implications of this statement when they read the ballot question, an election official understands that immediate eligibility verification is not possible. Practically speaking, for voters who need to update their voting address on Election Day and others doing same-day registration, election judges would have to check multiple databases to verify their name, address, date of birth with the state’s department of public safety, department of health, national death registry and the federal social security office.

Mississippi: Voter ID gets final OK, heads to Governor | The Clarion-Ledger

A Mississippi voter ID bill is headed to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has said he supports it as a way to protect the integrity of elections. The final version of House Bill 921 passed the Republican-controlled House 79-39 Thursday, with strong opposition from black representatives. It would require voters to show a driver’s license or other form of photo identification before casting a ballot. The bill is intended to enact a state constitutional amendment that 62 percent of Mississippi voters adopted in last November’s general election. Bryant has pledged to sign the bill into law. However, there’s no guarantee that the ID requirement will ever take effect.

Ohio: Hunter finally declared winner in Hamilton County judge election |

One year, five months and 25 days after voters cast their ballots, Hamilton County declared a winner Friday in the 2010 election for juvenile court judge. Democrat Tracie Hunter beat Republican John Williams by 71 votes in what is believed to be the longest election in county history. Hunter trailed Williams by 23 votes after the election on Nov. 2, 2010, but a court order to count about 300 contested provisional ballots put her over the top. The long, politically-charged fight over the ballots became an early skirmish between Democrats and Republicans in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, as both sides angled to shape voting rules and policies.

Wisconsin: Appeals court turns away challenge to second voter ID injunction | Wisconsin State Journal

A state appeals court said Thursday that it won’t block enforcement of a court injunction that stopped enforcement of the photo ID requirements of Wisconsin’s voter ID law. A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeals said it would not stay the injunction issued last month by Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess in part because the state Attorney General’s Office failed to show that harm would result if the injunction remains in place. The case involves a lawsuit challenging the photo ID requirements for voters that was brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

Editorials: Phony party candidates dilute Wisconsin election process | River Falls Journal

Last July Isaac Weix, an apparent Republican, entered the election recall race of state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf as a Democrat to force a primary election for Harsdorf’s Democrat opponent Shelly Moore. Weix’s motivation was that a primary would give Harsdorf more time to campaign for the general recall election. This year recall fever revs up again. More state lawmakers, including Gov. Scott Walker, are facing recall elections. Statewide, six Republicans are running as fake Democrats to force primaries. Walker, too, has a “fake” opponent: Arthur Kohl-Riggs, whose motto is “Less of a joke than Scott Walker,” has collected enough signatures to force a Republican primary. Kohl-Riggs has never been associated with the Republican Party.

Armenia: Local and international observers get ready to monitor parliamentary election |

Seven international and 47 local organizations will carry out an observation mission at the May 6 parliamentary elections in Armenia. The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe’s (PACE), the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the European Parliament, the CIS Observation Mission and the International Expert Center for Electoral Systems (ICES) are among the international organizations.

Editorials: Egypt’s Presidential Primaries: Everything at Stake | Open Salon

Now that the Republican primaries in the U.S. have been decided in favor of Mitt Romney, and Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande are facing off in France, perhaps the most critical presidential ‘primaries’ of all are being fought out in Egypt. Everything is at stake here, arguably not just for Egypt, but for the region and the world. The future of the Arab Spring hangs in the balance, with three possible scenarios: Egypt’s elections return a hardliner Islamist for president, setting it on the path of Ayatollah Iran, confirming the worst fears of the West; or the military re-asserts its role in the power balance, along the lines of traditional Turkish politics; or, in a case of Mubarak redux, an old regime loyalist is brought in to protect the interests of the beleagured business elite.

Greece: Recession-Wracked Greece Nears Vote That May Decide Fate in Euro | Bloomberg

Greece is entering the home stretch of its first election campaign since becoming a global financial pariah and the polls show no party gaining a mandate to enforce the austerity policies needed to stay in the euro. The final surveys, published on April 20, showed as many as 10 parties with a chance of winning seats in the May 6 vote. The two biggest, traditional rivals New Democracy and socialist Pasok, may be forced into a coalition. The country needs a functioning government to ensure that it continues to receive rescue funds to keep its economy afloat.

Russia: Bill on governor elections passes Upper house | RT

The Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, has approved the bill on gubernatorial elections. According to the draft law, any Russian citizen over 30 can run for governor of a region either as an independent candidate or a party nominee. Independent candidates would need to collect voter signatures in the support, from 0.5 to 2 per cent of the local population. The exact amount is to be determined by local authorities.  In addition, candidates should obtain the support of 5 to 10 per cent of local deputies from at least three quarters of the region’s municipalities. This is what is dubbed as the “municipal filter” in the law.