National: Using Super PACs to Get Rid of Super PACs | Roll Call

Want to get big money out of politics? Set up a super PAC. That seemingly incongruous formula has been seized on by a growing number of watchdog groups, self-styled reformers and student activists who have set up more than a dozen super PACs aimed at putting a stop to unrestricted campaign spending. With names such as America’s Super PAC for the Permanent Elimination of America’s Super PACs, Citizens Against Super PACs and No Dirty Money Elections, these protest political action committees are sober-minded, satirical or sometimes both. Take CREEP, a super PAC set up by Georgetown University graduate student Robert Lucas. The name is a tongue-in-cheek reference the Nixon-era Committee for the Re-Election of the President, which organized the Watergate break-ins 40 years ago. But Lucas, 23, has a high-minded goal of “raising voices, not dollars,” as he put it and is pushing for both public financing of campaigns and tax code reforms that would pull back the curtain on election-related spending. He has no plans to back candidates or party committees.

National: Simple steps could catch technical failures in vote counting | Palm Beach Post

Carolyn Crnich likes to be second-guessed: The registrar of voters in Humboldt County, Calif., scans every ballot and makes the election results available, online or on disk, so that anyone, anywhere, can count them. Community activists do just that. The result: 100 percent audits of the supervisor’s results, a sharp contrast to Florida, which limits vote counts to a small number of ballots in a single race. “I don’t like saying to my constituents, ‘Hey, just trust me,’ ” Crnich said. “Now, I don’t have to. Count them yourself, and if you find anything out of the ordinary, I want to know.” In 2008, the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project did find something out of the ordinary: 197 ballots dropped by machines. That led to an examination of the elections software used in Humboldt, about 200 miles north of San Francisco. So many problems were found, the system was decertified for use in California. It continues counting ballots in two Florida counties without incident, although a state Division of Elections advisory urged counties to get an upgrade. But elections supervisors shouldn’t get too comfortable with any system, experts say.

National: Change to Ballot Request Form Angers U.S. Expats |

The Pentagon office with responsibilities for assisting U.S. military and civilian overseas voters is issuing a new ballot-request form that requires civilian voters to make an all-or-none declaration either that they plan to return to the United States or have no intent of ever doing so. Expatriate groups say the choice is confusing and unfair, carries potential tax ramifications and could depress voting in ways that might affect close elections in November. The new form, the Federal Post Card Application, is issued by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the agency legally charged to assist all overseas voters. It resides in the Pentagon. The form is used to help voters abroad register and obtain ballots. In the past, the form allowed a less absolute response — that the voter was either residing abroad “temporarily” or “indefinitely” — but the new form leaves civilian voters only these choices: “I am a U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S., and I intend to return,” or “I am a U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S., and I do not intend to return.” The Pentagon office says it needs the information to help election officials decide whether to send out just federal ballots or federal and local ballots. But expatriate groups say this forces people into a choice they do not want, and in some cases are unable, to make.

South Carolina: Ground gained to get 180 candidates back on primary ballot |

The Senate could vote as early as Wednesday to allow 180 disqualified candidates back on the June primary ballot.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure today that would allow any candidate who attempted to file an statement of economic interest by April 20 back on the ballot. The deadline was March 30. The state Supreme Court booted candidates last week who failed to file a hard copy of the statement. The Senate put the new measure on the fast track by amending it to already approved House bill. The move also overrode objections to changing the law from state Sens. Jake Knotts and Robert Ford that could have stalled efforts to reinstate the challengers in state and local races. Knotts’ decision led to a brief shouting match after the meeting with Roxanne Wilson, the wife of U.S. Rep, Joe Wilson and sister of Suzanne Moore, a candidate for Lexington County clerk of court who was ousted off the ballot.

West Virginia: Keith Judd: How the felon won |

So how did a felon incarcerated in a Texas prison manage to win 41 percent of the Democratic primary vote against the president of the United States? For starters, Keith Judd was either clever or lucky enough to have filed for the ballot in the heart of Appalachia’s anti-Obama belt. West Virginia’s county-by-county numbers tell an interesting story: Judd defeated the incumbent president in 9 counties across the state, and held him under 60 percent in 30 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.  Whatever other forces may be at work in the Appalachian opposition to Obama — the role of race has been debated since his 2008 run — it’s clear the administration’s energy policies played a big role in the president’s lackluster performance. Locally, it’s referred to as “the war on coal.”