National: 2012 election drowning in secret money |

The 2012 elections are awash in secret money, with donors accountable to no one, while the national media sleeps and few voters seem to care. If money has an impact in U.S. elections, the race for the White House and other high offices may be determined by faceless donors pulling the strings from the shadows. Not exactly an image promoted by the Founding Fathers. In January 2010’s Citizens United vs. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively ended the restrictions on political contributions from the general funds of corporations and unions for independent electioneering. The U.S. appeals court in Washington then used Citizens United to rule in vs. FEC that limits on individual contributions to groups making independent expenditures are unconstitutional.

Editorials: Money Unlimited: How John Roberts Orchestrated Citizens United | Jeffrey Toobin/The New Yorker

When Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was first argued before the Supreme Court, on March 24, 2009, it seemed like a case of modest importance. The issue before the Justices was a narrow one. The McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law prohibited corporations from running television commercials for or against Presidential candidates for thirty days before primaries. During that period, Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, had wanted to run a documentary, as a cable video on demand, called “Hillary: The Movie,” which was critical of Hillary Clinton. The F.E.C. had prohibited the broadcast under McCain-Feingold, and Citizens United had challenged the decision. There did not seem to be a lot riding on the outcome. After all, how many nonprofits wanted to run documentaries about Presidential candidates, using relatively obscure technologies, just before elections? Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., summoned Theodore B. Olson, the lawyer for Citizens United, to the podium. Roberts’s voice bears a flat-vowelled trace of his origins, in Indiana. Unlike his predecessor, William Rehnquist, Roberts rarely shows irritation or frustration on the bench. A well-mannered Midwesterner, he invariably lets one of his colleagues ask the first questions.

Editorials: Buddy Roemer, the Anti-Spoiler | Lawrence Lessig/The Atlantic

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the some of us who believe that the corrupting influence of money in American politics is the most important issue facing this nation, and that those who believe like us face a difficult dilemma: neither major party candidate is going to make this his issue for this campaign (indeed, the Obama campaign has just airbrushed his criticism of Citizens United from their webpage). So those of us who think this way must either accept that the issue will go dark for four years at least, or push a third-party candidate who will make this his central issue. I grabbed the second horn of that dilemma, arguing here that supporters of corruption reform should join Americans Elect and endorse a reform candidate. Two obvious choices lead the Americans Elect pack: Buddy Roemer, the four-time congressman and former governor of Louisiana, and David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States. Both, I said, would be important reform candidates. Either could push corruption onto center stage.

California: Sacramento-area voter fraud suspects have criminal histories | The Sacramento Bee

The owner and an employee of a company accused of fraudulent voter registration drives in Sacramento County have been convicted of crimes of deception in the past. The owner of Momentum Political Services, Monica Harris, has an extensive criminal history, including a prison sentence for stealing from a family she befriended and buying a van with funds stolen from a youth agency, court records show. Two of her victims called Harris a “professional con artist.” Harris’ employee, Remy Heng, recently pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Sacramento to his role in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme in Northern California. Jill LaVine, Sacramento County’s registrar of voters, has turned over evidence of what she called registration fraud to the California Secretary of State’s Office. She said that at least one-fourth of the 31,000 registration cards submitted by Harris and her circulators since September have been rejected for inaccuracies.

Florida: State law hinders vote audits | Palm Beach Post

Candice Hoke votes, but with some skepticism: “There’s truly no legitimate basis for trusting this election software when we know it is erratic, that it sometimes produces valid results and sometimes not.” Hoke, founding director of the Cleveland-based Center for Election Integrity, said a ballot count after the election is one key way to sidestep vulnerabilities in technology. But there’s a problem. Under Florida law, supervisors can audit only a tiny slice of ballots after an election – typically no more than 2 percent of precincts – and only after the winners are formally declared. “In defense of the legislature in Florida and elsewhere,” Hoke said, “they are not trained in software; they have often been told software and computers can’t make mistakes.”

Florida: The hunt for non-citizen Florida voters exposes partisan divide |

Amid an increasingly partisan dog fight, Florida elections officials say the number of potential non-citizens they’re examining on the state voter rolls is 180,000, a figure far higher than what was initially reported. Florida’s Division of Elections said Thursday that it’s combing through this initial, mammoth list of names — which were flagged during a computer database search — to make sure its list is as clean and as small as possible. The state is then turning over smaller batches of the more-verified names to local county election supervisors, who are contacting the potential non-citizens to see if they can lawfully vote. By the end of the process, the state could send counties as many as 22,000 names to check, one election source indicated, in a state with more than 12 million total voters. Right now, local supervisors have been sent nearly 2,700 names, about 2,000 of which are in Miami-Dade, Florida’s most-populous and most-immigrant heavy county.

Florida: 58 percent of voters targeted in Florida noncitizen hunt are Hispanic. Whites, GOP least likely to face purge | Miami Herald

Hispanic, Democratic and independent-minded voters are the most likely to be targeted in a state hunt to remove thousands of noncitizens from Florida’s voting rolls, a Miami Herald computer analysis of elections records has found. Whites and Republicans are disproportionately the least-likely to face the threat of removal, the analysis of a list of more than 2,600 potential noncitizens shows. The list was first compiled by the state and furnished to county election supervisors and then The Herald. The numbers change by the day. The state’s Division of Elections says it initially identified roughly 180,000 potential noncitizens by performing a search of a computer database that doesn’t have the most-updated information.

Nebraska: Redistricting process enters “uncharted territory” |

Throughout the legislative session, Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, has referred to redistricting as “one of my favorite subjects,” so many times that it has become a running gag. But even Hensley — who scored a major legislative victory 10 years ago when he helped form a coalition to protect Democrats and conservative Republicans against moderates — seemed sick of the current redistricting debate at a media briefing Friday. “It would appear we’re headed to court to resolve this issue,” Hensley said. “I think that’s very unfortunate.”

New York: We told you so: DS200 voting machine screwed up – NY Board of Elections must be more vigilant about testing equipment | NY Daily News

You know those new electronic vote-scanning machines that are supposed to be foolproof in reading and counting every ballot in an election? Well, they’re anything but foolproof. In fact, they can screw up voter tallies to a fare-thee-well even after technicians carefully calibrate and test them. So state and city election officials have discovered, along with the machine’s manufacturer, thanks to insistent prodding by this page. Their learning experience began at a polling place at Public School 65 in the Bronx, where official tallies for 2010 primary and general elections showed that as many as 70% of the voters had cast invalid ballots, disqualifying them. The Brennan Center at NYU Law School brought the obviously impossible discrepancy to the attention of the city Board of Elections. The board responded, in essence, “Who cares?”

Germany: Opposition wins major state vote | Washington Examiner

Voters in Germany’s most populous state strengthened a center-left regional government which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives sought to portray as irresponsibly spendthrift, and inflicted an embarrassingly heavy defeat Sunday on the German leader’s party, projections showed. The center-left Social Democrats and Greens — Germany’s main opposition parties — won combined support of about 51 percent in the election in North Rhine-Westphalia state, according to ARD television based on exit polls and early counting. That would be enough to give them a majority in the state legislature, which they narrowly missed in the last regional election two years ago.

Greece: Final bid to avert new polls | Fin24

The Greek president on Sunday held last-ditch talks with party leaders in a bid to form an emergency cabinet and avoid new polls that could endanger reforms and push the country out of the eurozone. Carolos Papoulias met for 90 minutes with the heads of the three parties that topped last Sunday’s inconclusive election – conservative New Democracy, Socialist Pasok, and radical leftist Syriza. He was to meet with leaders of smaller parties later in the day.

Malta: Greens want voting rights extended to 16-year-olds |

Alternattiva Demokratika Zaghzagh (ADZ) said it strongly believes that the right to vote in all elections should be extended to all citizens above the age of 16. “While both PN and PL keep using youth as a backdrop, they should take a clear stand on this basic democratic issue, whether to allow 16 year olds to vote in local, European and general elections,” ADZ said. ADZ spokesperson Robert Callus said: “Different people mature at different ages. There are those who vote according to the favour they have received or on the basis of tradition rather than according to the needs of the country or ideology. What can be more immature than that? Yet, these people have the right to vote, and rightly so.”

Serbia: Nationalists call for protests over vote |

Serbian nationalists on Saturday called for nationwide street protests over alleged election fraud, fueling tensions before a presidential runoff vote. Nationalist leader Tomislav Nikolic said the Serbian Progressive Party will start peaceful protests as of Sunday because “we don’t recognize’’ parliamentary and local election results held last weekend. Nikolic will face pro-European Union candidate and incumbent President Boris Tadic in a runoff presidential election on May 20. Tadic led Nikolic by half a percentage point in the first round, and is considered a favorite in the runoff.

United Kingdom: Date set for recount of Glasgow ward after votes not included | STV

A date has been set for a recount of votes in a Glasgow City Council ward after it emerged hundreds of ballots had not been included in the official count. Local authority elections took place on May 3 but it emerged last week that some votes in the Langside ward were not added to the final tally of votes in Glasgow. A recount of the whole ward is set to take place at around 4pm on Tuesday which could change the overall results. Returning officer George Black and senior officers involved in the count have agreed to forgo their fee from the election to pay for the recount.