The Voting News Daily: Congressional Democrats Push Voter Empowerment Act, Americans Elect Ends Online Primary After No Candidates Qualify To Run

National: Congressional Democrats Push Voter Empowerment Act | Roll Call House Democrats on Thursday unveiled new voting rights legislation designed to modernize voter registration while cracking down on practices that could discourage certain populations from voting. The Voter Empowerment Act appears to be a direct counter to a growing movement within the GOP at the state…

National: Congressional Democrats Push Voter Empowerment Act | Roll Call News

House Democrats on Thursday unveiled new voting rights legislation designed to modernize voter registration while cracking down on practices that could discourage certain populations from voting. The Voter Empowerment Act appears to be a direct counter to a growing movement within the GOP at the state and national level to require voters to present a photo ID when voting. “The ability to vote should be easy, accessible and simple. Yet there are practices and laws in place that make it harder to vote today than it was even one year ago. … We should be moving toward a more inclusive democracy, not one that locks people out,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the bill’s sponsors and a 1960s civil rights icon.

National: Americans Elect Ends Online Primary After No Candidates Qualify To Run | ABC News

Americans Elect, the group that aimed to nominate a third presidential candidate through an online primary, ended its nomination process today after no prospective candidates met their minimum requirements. To run in its online primary a candidate had to get 10,000 “clicks” of support (1,000 in at least 10 states). Buddy Roemer was the closest to reaching that goal, but he got less than 6,300 “supporters. As of this week, no candidate achieved the national support threshold required to enter the Americans Elect Online Convention in June,” the group said in a statement. “The primary process for the Americans Elect nomination has come to an end.”

National: Magnate Steps Into 2012 Fray on Wild Pitch – Joe Ricketts Rejects Plan to Finance Anti-Obama Ads |

Joe Ricketts, an up-by-the-bootstraps billionaire whose varied holdings include a name-brand brokerage firm in Omaha, a baseball team in Chicago, herds of bison in Wyoming and a start-up news Web site in New York, wanted to be a player in the 2012 election. On Thursday he was, though not in the way he had intended. Word that Mr. Ricketts had considered bankrolling a $10 million advertising campaign linking President Obama to the incendiary race-infused statements of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., brought waves of denunciation from Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign and much of the rest of the political world. Highlighting the perils of mixing partisan politics and corporate citizenship, the reverberations also swept through the Ricketts family’s business empire.

National: John Edwards trial: What will verdict mean for campaign finance? |

In the end, it seems, the John Edwards trial became only a circus sideshow in America’s convulsive efforts to define the limits of campaign finance. The defense rested abruptly Wednesday without Mr. Edwards taking the stand, marking the end of a courtroom drama that had plenty of drama but little of what the prosecution had promised, analysts and observers say. Before the trial began, prosecuting attorney Lanny Breuer said the federal government won’t “permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws.” … To some, the prosecution has overreached in an attempt to net a big fish. Yet the broader context of the trial has also played no small part in stripping it of deeper meaning for the political world. Indeed, given the US Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling in 2010,  a candidate in a similar situation today would likely be able move such money to its target in an alternate, and legal, way.

Editorials: James O’Keefe’s voter fraud prank fail | Oliver Burkeman/

I suffer fairly severely from what psychologists call “empathic embarrassment”: I find it agonising to the point of physical discomfort to watch other people making fools of themselves. Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat often had me writhing and cringing on behalf of his victims – even, troublingly, when his victims were spouting horrible bigotry. I’m really not proud of this. It’s an annoying problem. And lately, it’s been particularly disconcerting to find that the person prompting me to cover my face with my hands is the notorious “conservative provocateur” James O’Keefe III. O’Keefe, of course, is the rightwing prankster who helped bring down Acorn and was then convicted in connection with a sting at the offices of Louisana Senator Mary Landrieu. But with the significant exception of the ambush of Acorn, there’s something epic – almost worthy of awed respect, if it didn’t make me cringe so much – about how astonishingly inept he is at “punking” the liberals he despises.

Florida: State Steps Up Effort Against Illegal Voters |

In an attempt to clear the voter rolls of noncitizens, a move that had set off criticism and a threatened lawsuit, Florida election officials decided on Thursday to use information from a federal database to check a list of 182,000 voters who they suspect are not citizens, officials said. Since last year, the Florida Division of Elections had sought access to the immigration database, which is maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, but the department said there were legal and technical difficulties in sharing the information. On Thursday, the elections division asked the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which oversees driver’s licenses and originally compiled the list of 182,000 names, to use its access to the federal database to update its records and cross-check the names. … The state’s attempt to scrub registration rolls of illegal voters had come under fire because of the timing — less than seven months before a presidential election — and because the state itself could not guarantee the accuracy of its rolls.

Florida: Election chiefs skeptical of voter purge | Palm Beach Post

Florida’s local election supervisors on Wednesday sounded skeptical, and even distrustful, of a push by the state to remove thousands of potential non-U.S. citizens from the voting rolls just months before the critical 2012 elections. The supervisors, meeting at their annual summer conference, peppered state election officials with questions about the list of more than 2,600 people who have been identified as being in Florida legally but ineligible to vote. That list was sent to supervisors recently, but state officials have also said there may be as many as 182,000 registered voters who may not be citizens. State election officials want the state’s 67 county election offices to reach out to those on the list, determine their citizenship status and remove them from the rolls if they are not U.S. citizens. But election supervisors – including Democrats and Republicans – asked a range of questions about the level of proof that state election officials had regarding the citizenship status of voters which was culled by comparing voter registration lists to a state driver’s license database. They said they wanted more information before they purge someone from the voting rolls.

Kansas: Kobach asks federal judges to redraw Kansas districts |

Of the 50 states, Kansas now stands as the only one that has yet to draw new congressional boundaries. And it’s one of a handful of states that have yet to draw new state Senate and House districts, threatening to further delay candidate filing deadlines for the 2012 elections — and possibly even the Aug. 7 primary. Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Wednesday said lawmakers’ slow pace in redistricting is creating a “constitutional crisis,” and he asked a federal judge to intervene because lawmakers can’t get the job done. “I don’t want to go to court,” Kobach said at a news conference. “I don’t want to play any role in drawing these district lines. I am simply saying, ‘Please do your job. Take this out of my hands.’ ”

Mississippi: Voter ID bill signed, awaits feds’ scrutiny | Houston Chronicle

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on Thursday signed a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, but it’s unclear whether it will become law. Because of Mississippi’s history of racial discrimination, the state is required to get federal approval for any change in election laws or procedures. The U.S. Justice Department in recent months has rejected voter ID laws from Texas and South Carolina. The state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is asking the department to reject Mississippi’s proposed law, saying it could disproportionately create hardships for poor, elderly or minority voters who might be less likely to have a photo ID.

Mississippi: Voter ID battle will be costly |

Since when did Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann become the state’s chief legal officer? Last time I checked, Atty. Gen. Jim Hood was, under the 1890 state constitution, judicially established as the state’s chief legal officer. Totally ignoring that fact, the politically-ambitious Delbert is telling the media he’s the state’s champion to confront the monstrous U.S. Department of Justice and keep it from blocking the state from imposing a new law requiring Mississippians to show an approved ID in order to vote. “He (Hosemann) wants to be driving the train on the voter ID issue,” says NAACP attorney Carroll Rhodes, “while driving it off the tracks.” Rhodes on behalf of the NAACP will oppose whichever legal move the state makes to put its new voting limitation into effect.

South Carolina: No new candidates allowed; primary ballots set |

The South Carolina Election Commission told the state Republican Party on Thursday that it effectively can’t put a challenger to Gov. Nikki Haley’s chief legislative opponent back on the June primary ballot. The commission said in an email Thursday the state GOP can’t recertify state Senate candidate Katrina Shealy, two weeks after decertifying her and other contenders. It noted the state Supreme Court set a noon May 4 deadline for the GOP and Democratic parties to submit their lists of candidates who properly filed financial forms, and that ruling must be heeded. Shealy was among some 200 candidates for offices statewide decertified for not filing correctly. “To accept candidates after that would be in violation of that order,” election commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told The Associated Press. “The June primary ballots are set. Ballots have been printed. Voting machines have been prepared, and voters are voting.”

South Carolina: Senate approves bill to clear future election chaos |

The South Carolina Senate approved a bill Wednesday that could head off the election chaos that is currently swirling throughout South Carolina. Earlier this month, a state Supreme Court ruling resulted in almost 200 candidates being tossed off June’s primary ballots after the court determined the political hopefuls did not properly file financial forms when filing to run for office. The Senate measure approved unanimously Wednesday would remove the Democratic and Republican parties from the filing process and synchronize the deadlines for incumbents and challengers to turn in financial paperwork. It does not apply retroactively, so it will not help candidates taken off ballots by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

US Virgin Islands: Defendants call elections lawsuit frivolous | Virgin Islands Daily News

Defendants in the V.I. Superior Case filed on behalf of six of the seven members of the St. Croix Board of Elections say they are ready to defend themselves against charges of defamation of character and to deny they created a scandal. The members of the Board of Elections – Rupert Ross Jr., Lisa Harris Moorhead, Dodson James, Anita Davila, Carmen Golden and Raymond Williams – filed suit in V.I. Superior Court against members of the V.I. Action Group, fellow Board of Elections member Adelbert Bryan and others who the board members say are trying to ruin their reputations.

Editorials: Suppressing the student vote? New residency rules could affect Wisconsin’s recall election | The Daily Page

The voter ID law passed last spring by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature was widely criticized for requiring that voters show a driver’s license or other form of photo identification at the polls. These provisions are now under two court injunctions by judges who found that the photo ID requirements likely discriminate against minorities, the poor and the elderly. Meanwhile, it is the bill’s new residency requirements, largely lost in the controversy over photo ID, that are much more likely to keep students away from the polls in the upcoming June 5 recall elections for governor, lieutenant governor and four state Senate seats. Turnout among students, a voting bloc traditionally thought to favor Democrats, was already low in the May 8 recall primary. The new rules require that voters live at an address for 28 days before being eligible to vote. Dorm leases for 6,900 students at UW-Madison end May 20, and many of the other students living off campus will leave for the summer around the same time. Do the math and the dilemma is clear: There is no time to reestablish residency to vote June 5.

Lesotho: Keep calm and carry on voting – Lesotho’s elections look unusually competitive. That could spell trouble | The Economist

With barely a week to go before parliamentary elections in Lesotho on May 26th, there is no sign in the bustling capital of Maseru of the usual campaign paraphernalia: no posters, no cars emblazoned with party colours, no loudspeakers blaring political slogans, nothing to suggest that this mountain kingdom, surrounded by South Africa, was in the throes of its most hotly contested poll since independence from Britain nearly 50 years ago. This does not mean the Basotho, Lesotho’s 2m inhabitants, are unengaged. But the radio and party rallies are their preferred method of campaigning. Any of the country’s three main parties could win. The closeness of the race has people worried. Elections in Lesotho are generally deemed fair, but they have often been followed by violence. In 1998 Pakalitha Mosisili, leader of the newly elected Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), had to ask the Southern African Development Community, a 15-member regional club which includes Lesotho, to send in troops to end months of rioting, looting, burning and killing. Many fear that could happen again.

Serbia: Heated debate ahead of Serbia’s elections |

Serbia’s two presidential candidates took part in a bitter televised debate just ahead of next week’s second round of elections. Incumbent Boris Tadic, who resigned his presidential mandate last month and called for new elections, accused opponent Tomislav Nikolic, of the Serbian Progressive Party, of fabricating an election fraud scandal just after the first round of elections. “You made the electoral fraud up, and nothing you said is true,” Tadic asserted during Wednesday’s debate. “If it were true, you would have initiated court proceedings either here or you would address the court in Strasbourg, where you have been so many times.”