National: Jury is out on states’ voter ID laws | The Post & Courier/Politico

Some see South Carolina’s voter ID law and other states’ efforts to tighten early voting as less of an attempt to curb voter fraud than some of the earliest volleys in the 2012 presidential race. At least that is how the laws were painted by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), as well as NAACP members and union leaders who spoke before more than 100 people at a Tuesday evening rally in Charleston, S.C. Clyburn said he has visited Florida four times in the past six weeks to work on anti-voter-suppression efforts with the Democratic National Congressional Committee. He noted that national GOP strategist Karl Rove has forecast that President Barack Obama could win South Carolina this fall, and Republicans are fighting to keep this state — and other swing states — in the GOP column. “They have put in these draconian rules and regulations and laws because they have calculated that if they can suppress the vote by 1 percent in nine different states, we lose the national election in November,” Clyburn said. “That’s their calculation.” Most experts put the Palmetto State solidly in the Republican column.

National: Americans Elect scraps virtual caucus for lack of early candidate support | The Post and Courier

A group clearing the path for an independent White House bid canceled the first phase of its search for a bipartisan ticket Tuesday because declared and draft candidates aren’t mustering enough preliminary support. Americans Elect scrapped a virtual caucus that had been planned for next week. Another round of voting set for May 15 also is in jeopardy; a third is to be held on May 22. Candidates must meet a certain threshold of support to be eligible for the caucuses.

National: Third-party candidate for POTUS: Anyone? Walker? |

It’s the dream that won’t die: a plain-spoken, pure-hearted independent sweeps into the presidential race, talks straight with the American people and upends a broken process with a historic third-party campaign. Even at this late hour in the 2012 election, there’s still hope in elite circles that a fresh face will enter the field. Columnists continue to plead publicly for billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run. Americans Elect, the group focused on obtaining ballot access for a so-far nameless independent candidate, begins to hold online caucuses this month to choose its nominee. The organization suffered a setback this week when it announced that it was stalling the start of its nominating process because no candidate had yet qualified for the competition. With no high-profile national politician apparently interested, nonpartisan idealists are turning toward David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general and an advocate for broad fiscal reform. An austere technocrat, Walker has embraced the role of reluctant presidential contender and is the target of a draft movement seeking to place his name into nomination for the Americans Elect line.

Alaska: Voters File for Anchorage Election Recount |

A group of Anchorage voters has formally requested a recount of ballots associated with the city’s troubled April 3 election. The group — consisting of 10 Anchorage voters, and headed by Anchorage attorney Hal Gazaway — is asking that all ballots cast in 15 different precincts be recounted by hand. The recount application, filed late Wednesday afternoon with the city clerk’s office, says the results provided by the optical scan vote counting machines used on election night can’t be trusted. The recount application cites reports of “at least one” malfunctioning vote counting machine. It also cites testimony from a poll worker that a security seal for a vote counting machine’s memory card appeared to be “cut.”  The group asking for the recount also said it was concerned with Deputy Municipal Clerk Jacqueline Duke’s instructions to poll workers that they “ignore and/or replace security seals protecting the memory cards that were ‘broken in transport.'”

Alaska: Redistricting map solutions elusive as court battle looms |

One of the most important and complicated insider games in politics moves back to the Alaska Supreme Court this week with an appeal by the Alaska Redistricting Board of its method for redrawing the state’s legislative map. In a petition filed Tuesday, the board is asking the high court to overturn a decision by a Fairbanks judge that the board failed to first rely on state law for drawing up “one-person, one vote” districts before adjusting them to prevent Alaska Native votes from being illegally diluted. Native voting rights are protected by the U.S. Justice Department under the federal Voting Rights Act. The Alaska Supreme Court has previously ruled that the Voting Rights Act should be applied only after state requirements are met.

Florida: Palm Beach County upgrades troubled vote-counting computer system | Sun Sentinel

Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to upgrade vote-counting software, just over a month after a vote-counting mix-up in the Wellington city council election. The software improvements cost $117,450 in a deal with Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher had the deal in the works before the Election Night problems in Wellington. Bucher in March initially blamed software problems for her office naming the incorrect winners in two Wellington races. The software upgrades and other procedural changes are supposed to iron out any problems like those that occurred in Wellington and speed up Palm Beach County’s traditionally slow vote counting.

New Mexico: Electronic Voter Registration Drive Tests Power Of Technology Against Voter ID Policies Huffington Post

As both the Republican and Democratic parties clamor to claim a larger share of the Latino electorate this year, electronic voter registration has emerged as a potential sweet spot, a space where political procedure may collide with culture and boost Latino voter participation. In New Mexico, that theory is in the early stages of a ground test. Jetta Reynolds has spent a good portion of the last five years working to register voters in the Albuquerque, N.M., area. She’s heard the questions people raise about the process so often that before she deployed nearly 200 volunteers to do the same work at grocery stores and street fairs this year, she created her own Spanish and English-language voter registration brochure. But when Reynolds took Jason Libersky — one of the developers behind a new voter registration app called Evotee — and his iPad to a session for mostly Latino and Native American potential voters Monday, it was Reynolds who walked away surprised.

Oklahoma: Supreme Court Voids Special State House Election | Election Academy

On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously voided the results of a special election for a state House seat in Tulsa. The court’s order came after a series of problems cast doubt on the true outcome of the election. … The Court, after reviewing the “totality of the evidence presented,” found it “impossible to determine with mathematical certainty which candidate is entitled to a certificate of election” and thus voided the election entirely. In the wake of the order – and due to the delays occasioned by the case – the state board of elections is going to keep the seat vacant until it can be filled at this November’s general election.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID Law Would Keep 93-Year-Old Who Marched With Martin Luther King From Voting | TPM

If there’s a contest for most sympathetic plaintiff in a lawsuit opposing a state voter ID law, Pennsylvania’s Viviette Applewhite wins. The 93-year-old has voted in almost every election since 1960. Her daughter was a public servant. She has five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren. She’s a widow. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Macon, Georgia during the civil rights movement and traveled to Atlanta to hear him preach. Under Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, Applewhite wouldn’t be able to vote. Applewhite is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP) and the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP on behalf of ten Pennsylvania voters.

Vermont: Campaign finance bill dead for year | CBS News

The Vermont Senate has voted against taking any more action to pass a campaign finance reform law, meaning the issue is dead for this year. The Senate voted 19-9 on Tuesday afternoon to send a bill that would have set limits on donations to people running for state offices to the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Richard Sears, the Bennington Democrat who chairs the committee, says there isn’t time to act on the measure before lawmakers adjourn this weekend.

Virginia: Voter ID bill may be dead until next year |

When asked whether he would put his name next to the controversial voter ID legislation passed by the General Assembly that would require voters without identification to cast provisional ballots, Gov. McDonnell made no signs of committing one way or the other on Sunday. Legislators reasonably rejected the governor’s proposed amendment earlier in April that would have required members of the electoral board to compare the signature in a voter’s registration file with the signature on a provisional ballot to confirm the identity of the voter. This scheme would have undoubtedly led to a host of other problems in the voter confirmation process. Some have suggested that the entire point of the McDonnell amendment was to eliminate the bill.

Editorials: Mr. McDonnell faces a quandary with Virginia voter ID bill | The Washington Post

Faced with Voter ID legislation that would disenfranchise thousands of Virginians, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is in a quandary. He can veto the bill and incur the wrath of fellow Republicans, or sign it and reinforce the GOP’s image of hostility toward young, poor and black voters. Mr. McDonnell is all too aware that the bill, passed by Republican lawmakers despite his warning about legislative overreach, is gratuitous at best. That’s why he sent it back to the General Assembly with amendments that would eliminate its most obnoxious feature: a requirement that ballots cast by voters who lack identification be thrown out unless the voters make a separate trek to local electoral offices to prove their identity. But the General Assembly restored that provision and sent the bill back to Mr. McDonnell, who now faces a decision: Does he want to be known as a partisan street brawler, or as a grown-up who governs with restraint?

Algeria: Tentative steps to the promised land | Africa Review

Algeria’s closely-watched May 10th parliamentary election will help clarify the political currents popular enough to sufficiently move the north African country towards a new era in its agitated history. They are also perceived as a rehearsal for the country’s presidential election where the stakes will be much greater. In Algeria, the President holds a far more prominent role than many other state institution. The elections have come at a time of great regional uncertainty and instability following the Arab Spring that swept away regimes in neighbouring Tunisia and in Egypt. In what is certainly an effort to safeguard the country from similar disorder, 75-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announced democratic reforms and the holding of anticipated parliamentary elections as part of an overall transition process. These reforms were welcomed by the international community as a step in the right direction.

Libya: Voters register to vote in landmark elections |

Libyans began registering on Tuesday to vote in June elections for a national assembly, as the country prepared for its first free polls following the removal of Muammar Gaddafi. One registration centre at a Tripoli school was closed after armed former rebel fighters turned up in pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns. About 1,500 registration centers have been set up across the country for the landmark polls, after which Libya will have a new constitution. People queued up outside, holding their national identity papers and centers for candidate registration also were opened.

Malaysia: Analysts say rally fallout could delay Malaysia polls | Channel NewsAsia

Recent police clashes with election-reform protesters in Malaysia have dented premier Najib Razak’s reform credentials and may force him to push back elections, analysts say. Najib was widely expected to set a June date for what is predicted to be a close battle between his ruling coalition and the opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim, but observers say Saturday’s protest may have changed his thinking. Tens of thousands took to the streets of the capital Kuala Lumpur to demand clean elections, defying government curbs on the rally. Angry demonstrators broke through barricades and clashed with police, who fired tear gas and chemical-laced water on crowds and arrested 512 people. All have since been released. Analysts say the events may have tarnished Najib’s efforts to win votes by pledging to loosen the long-ruling coalition’s authoritarianism.

United Kingdom: London mayoral election: Battle of the buses |

To an outsider, Thursday’s contest to elect the next mayor of London would appear to be a fight between two larger-than-life characters — known best by their first names — for control of the city’s famous red buses. Among a wide field of candidates, only these two men have any realistic chance of taking a starring role at this summer’s Olympic Games in London: Conservative Party incumbent Mayor Boris Johnson, 47, and his 66-year-old nemesis, Labour left-winger and former Mayor Ken Livingstone. Both men have devoted their energies to transport — and attacking each other viciously on the issue, as well as on their complex personal tax arrangements. With his distinctive nasal south London accent, Livingstone rose to fame in the early 1980s as leader of the Greater London Council. Livingstone — populist, socialist, environmentalist — was one of the few who stood up to Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative prime minister at the time, earning him the moniker “Red Ken.”