The Voting News Daily: Appeals court upholds key voting rights provision, Can Montana brief end Citizens United?

National: Appeals court upholds key voting rights provision | Associated Press A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, rejecting an Alabama county’s challenge to the landmark civil rights law. The provision requires state, county and local governments with a history of discrimination to obtain advance approval from the…

National: Appeals court upholds key voting rights provision | Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, rejecting an Alabama county’s challenge to the landmark civil rights law. The provision requires state, county and local governments with a history of discrimination to obtain advance approval from the Justice Department, or from a federal court in Washington, for any changes to election procedures. It now applies to all or parts of 16 states. In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that Congress developed extensive evidence of continuing racial discrimination just six years ago and reached a reasonable conclusion when it reauthorized section 5 of the law at that time. The appellate ruling could clear the way for the case to be appealed to the Supreme Court where Chief Justice John Roberts suggested in a 2009 opinion that the court’s conservative majority might be receptive to a challenge to section 5.

National: Can Montana brief end Citizens United? | Politico.com

Montana’s attorney general is due to file a brief Friday in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to uphold the state’s Corrupt Practices Act. This 1906 law prohibits corporations from making expenditures on behalf of candidates in Montana elections. The Supreme Court’s response could have repercussions far beyond Montana — the case may well determine how much states can regulate money in politics after Citizens United. The state high court cited Montana’s long history of corruption, when corporations often spent unlimited sums to steal elections, as the reason to narrow Citizens United and uphold the law. The Supreme Court should heed the Montana attorney general’s argument. More important, this case could offer the high court a viable means to revisit its Citizens United decision. This 2010 ruling, extended by lower federal courts, has spawned the super PACs now threatening to bring Wild West corruption to federal elections.

National: Campaign finance law before 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals | necn.com

A government lawyer on Friday urged an appeals court to reverse a judge’s ruling that a century-old ban on corporate campaign contributions in federal elections is unconstitutional. Justice Department attorney Michael R. Dreeben told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the prohibition serves the legitimate government interest of curbing corruption, and overturning it would run afoul of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. But attorneys for two northern Virginia executives who were charged with violating the ban argued that U.S. District Judge James Cacheris got it right when he ruled last year that the ban violates corporations’ free-speech rights. In his first-of-its-kind ruling, Cacheris said it was not logical for an individual to be able to donate up to $2,500 to a federal government while a corporation “cannot donate a cent.” The appeals court typically takes several weeks to rule.

National: House Democrats push to make voting easier | TheHill.com

House Democratic leaders on Thursday introduced legislation to streamline Americans’ trips to the polls. The bill is a response to a slew of recent state legislation – some proposed, some already law – setting stricter standards for voters to register or cast a ballot. Supporters of those state efforts — including new picture ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements – say they’re necessary to weed out ineligible voters and maintain the integrity of elections. But critics contend they’re designed to suppress eligible voters, particularly minorities and low-income Americans who tend to vote Democratic.

California: Fraud accusations mount for voter registration company in Sacramento County | The Sacramento Bee

A woman suspected of voter registration fraud in Sacramento County has been the subject of complaints in other campaigns as well. The registrar of voters in El Dorado County sent a warning to Monica Harris last year after problems with registrations collected at Folsom Lake College. During a signature drive in Sacramento last year – which was ultimately thrown out because of an unusually high number of rejected signatures – members of the Sacramento Central Labor Council also lodged complaints against Harris. Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine recently announced that she had turned over thousands of suspect registration cards turned in by Harris’ company to the California secretary of state’s office. In some cases, LaVine has received complaints from people who unknowingly had their party registration switched to Republican.

California: Disabled Voters Asked to Assess Polling Place Accessibility | KCET

From now until June 29, disabled voters in California will have the opportunity, by filling out a first-of-its-kind online survey, to weigh in on whether and how well county elections officials are providing for them at the polls. Results from the survey, which was created by the Secretary of State’s office, are supposed to help determine whether elections staff need more training and whether there is a need for modified services or enhanced outreach programs for voters with disabilities.

Nebraska: Omaha precinct changes called ‘disaster’ | Omaha.com

Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps still has a lot of work to do to satisfy north Omaha leaders. He plans to solicit feedback about voting in the primary and draw new precinct maps before the November general election. Phipps said that he heard a normal amount of voter complaints compared with past elections and that people often are confused when polling places change. Black leaders in north Omaha had a different reaction. “This was a disaster,” City Councilman Ben Gray said of Tuesday’s primary election. Gray and others on Thursday called for Phipps’ countywide consolidation of polling places to be rolled back in northeast Omaha. They said some voters decided not to vote because of the confusion about polling places.

North Carolina: Voter fraud hard to prove; fears spark legislation | WRAL.com

It sounds like a simple enough idea: take the list of people who have been excused from jury duty because they were listed as “non-citizens” and compare those names to the voter rolls. The matches could be non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in our elections.  That was the method conservative provocateur James O’Keefe used in a video that went viral this week when he claimed to find non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in North Carolina. A local group called the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina also used it to identify 553 registered Wake County voters who could be non-citizens.  Those reports have added fuel to a contentious debate over whether North Carolina should require voters to show ID when they go to vote. Currently, poll workers are only allowed to ask a voter to state their name and address in most situations.  But there is a problem with the method that provided the foundation of those reports.  Comparing juror and voter information leads mostly to false or misleading matches. When WRAL News conducted a similar analysis earlier this year, every potentially fraudulent voter identified was a U.S. citizen.

Ohio: Longest election in Hamilton County history finally decided | Cincinnati.com

Tracie Hunter is a week or so away from becoming Hamilton County’s newest juvenile court judge after a recount Thursday confirmed she won the 2010 election. The final count put Hunter, a Democrat, 74 votes ahead of Republican John Williams in an election that is believed to be the longest 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 gave her the victory. “It has been a long struggle,” said Hunter’s lawyer, Jennifer Branch. “But it was worth the effort because we Americans believe every vote should count.”

Virginia: Governor signs Voter ID bill – orders ID cards to be sent to all registered voters | HamptonRoads.com

Gov. Bob McDonnell has decided to let controversial legislation to tighten voter-identification policies become law, but he’s also ordering state election officials to send every registered Virginia voter a new voter-ID card. The move by the governor enables him to satisfy Republican demands for election safeguards while blunting criticism that the state is imposing barriers to voter participation. McDonnell on Friday said he signed two bills – SB 1 and HB 9 – to increase the forms of acceptable ID “while helping to further prevent voter fraud and ensuring Virginians that they can have faith that votes have not been fraudulently cast.” Friday was the deadline for him to act on the legislation.

West Virginia: Lawsuit filed in ballot stuffing  case | Charleston Daily Mail

A candidate on the losing end of a ballot-stuffing scheme in Lincoln County is now suing a half dozen current and former county officials in federal court for $57,000, plus unspecific punitive damages. The lawsuit also sheds new light on Lincoln County’s 2010 Democratic primary, which is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation. Former county commission candidate Phoebe Harless said the officials – including all three sitting county commissioners – and a former felon deprived her of her civil rights by stacking the deck against her candidacy. Nitro attorney Harvey Peyton filed the lawsuit late last week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. It names the commissioners, the commission’s secretary, the former sheriff, the former county clerk, a government insurance risk pool and Wandell “Rocky” Adkins.

Wisconsin: Timing of recall election not good for the student vote | madison.com

On a warm, sun-splashed evening during final exams week, senior Matt Hochhauser knocks on doors on UW-Madison’s fraternity row. His mission: To get students who are preoccupied with studying and summer plans to think about an election that is just weeks away. “It’s very difficult because we have such a short amount of time to get people to vote,” said the English and history major from Long Island, N.Y., who was canvassing Langdon Street for the Democratic Party on Monday night. The timing of Wisconsin’s historic gubernatorial recall election couldn’t be worse for college students. Many will leave campus for the summer after exams end this week or graduation this weekend. Experts say the June 5 election between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett could result in lower turnout for a population that already votes in small numbers. “The barriers are huge,” said Elizabeth Hollander, a senior fellow at Tufts University who studies student civic engagement. “Not to knock college students, but they have a lot of other things on their mind.” Making things more complicated for the transitory population are new voting rules that require voters to live in an election ward for at least 28 consecutive days. People should vote at the residence where they lived on May 8, according to the Government Accountability Board. Students can file an absentee ballot if they are registered at that location but away for the summer.

Algeria: Elections look good abroad, bad at home | Associated Press

Algeria overturned the Arab Spring’s revolutionary narrative with elections that bolstered the longtime ruling party and dashed Islamists’ hopes of gaining power. The vote did something else, too: It burnished Algeria’s democratic image with Western allies who rely on it to fight terrorism and supply natural gas. Few people turned out to vote in last week’s elections, and the result did little to boost Algerian rulers’ legitimacy at home. But analysts say Algeria needed to hold elections to show it was at least somewhat democratic in the midst of a region-wide push for greater freedoms. “Algeria has satisfactory relations with Washington and Paris,” said Hugh Roberts, an expert on the country at Boston’s Tufts University. “It needs to do well enough (with reform) not to embarrass its Western partners, and that’s what it’s done.”

Angola: Head of election commission removed | News24

An Angolan court on Thursday reversed the appointment of the election commission head, linked to the ruling party, because she did not qualify for the post, opposition parties said. The parties had petitioned the court on Suzana Ingles’ appointment as head of the National Electoral Commission (CNE). “The Supreme Court found that our complaint was justified and that the nomination of Suzana Inglese was illegal,” main opposition Unita MP Clarisse Kaputu told AFP. “In fact Ms Ingles is not a judge while it’s one of the conditions as required by law to take over leadership of the CNE,” she said.

Canada: Toronto riding’s election result tossed by judge | CBC News

Conservative MP Ted Opitz’s 2011 federal election win in Etobicoke Centre was declared null and void today in a challenge by former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj. Opitz won the May 2011 election by 26 votes, but Wrzesnewskyj challenged the results over voting irregularities. The case required more than 26 votes be thrown out for it to be declared void. Conservative Party spokesman Fred Delorey said they’re disappointed with the court decision after 52,000 people in Etobicoke Centre “followed the rules, cast their ballots and today had their democratic decision thrown into doubt.”