The Voting News Daily: Voting Rights Act survives court test, but how long will it last?, How Super-PACs Will Keep the Campaign Clean

Editorials: Voting Rights Act survives court test, but how long will it last? | Facing South Last week, in a case closely watched around the country, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was constitutional. But it also exposed the fault lines that…

Papua New Guinea: Papua New Guinea’s top judge arrested in new political crisis | Reuters

Police in Papua New Guinea stormed the Supreme Court in the capital and arrested the nation’s top judge on sedition charges on Thursday, in response to its ruling that the prime minister held power illegally and should step down. On the day nominations closed for June elections, police arrested Chief Justice Salamo Injia after the court ruled former leader Michael Somare should be reinstated as prime minister. Somare and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill have been jostling for power since August 2011, when O’Neill took office after Somare was ruled ineligible to be a lawmaker after a prolonged absence from parliament due to illness. But the Supreme Court in December ruled Somare should be reinstated, and in another ruling this week the court said Somare should be the caretaker prime minister during the current election period.

Editorials: Voting Rights Act survives court test, but how long will it last? | Facing South

Last week, in a case closely watched around the country, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was constitutional. But it also exposed the fault lines that will likely push the case to the Supreme Court, posing one of the gravest threats to a provision in the Act that has been used most recently to force court review of voter ID laws in Southern states. In a 2-1 decision in the case of Shelby County v Holder, the justices upheld Section 5 of the Act, an embattled component of the landmark civil rights measure which requires all or part of 16 states — nine in the South — to get federal approval before making major changes to elections.

Editorials: How Super-PACs Will Keep the Campaign Clean | Bloomberg

Strangely enough, the 2012 presidential campaign, expected to be the dirtiest in modern memory, may end up being relatively clean. That’s because both sides agree that the economy is the central issue and that sideshows like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright aren’t persuasive for voters. Karl Rove and Larry McCarthy, the creator of the infamous Willie Horton ad, think harsh personal attacks against President Barack Obama will backfire, and they’re offering more subtle messages of economic disappointment instead. Even economic assaults can boomerang nowadays. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, an otherwise strong Obama supporter, dealt the Obama campaign a blow last weekend on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when he said he was “nauseated” by an Obama ad lambasting Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital LLC. The president’s defense of the ad, in which he said “there are folks who do good work” in private equity, was too complicated to be effective. The controversy surrounding the Bain ad and a proposed Wright ad from a super-PAC backed by Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD), suggests that when “paid media” in the presidential race ventures out-of- bounds, “free media” will exact a penalty. (House and Senate races are another story.)

National: Campaign donations by text message: An FEC ruling on legality could come soon | The Washington Post

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday held a hearing on whether donations through text message should be legal. The commissioners held off on making a ruling during Thursday’s meeting, but a decision could come when the panel meets again next month. Both the Obama and Romney campaigns support legalizing text-message donations and on Thursday submitted statements in favor.

National: Spanish company’s control of online voting in US is a disturbing trend | South Lake Press

Former Russian dictator Stalin said, “It’s not who votes that count, it’s who counts the votes.” Maybe President Obama knew something Americans didn’t know. In January, Congress allowed the largest vote-processing corporation in America, the Tampa-based software company SOE, to be bought by the Spanish online voting company SCYTL. This is a major step towards global centralization of all election processes. SCYTL, whose funding comes from international venture capital such as Balderton, is run by Goldman Sachs veterans Tim Bunting and Mark Evans. Based in Barcelona, Spain, it is rumored the CEO Pere Valles is a socialist who donated heavily to the 2008 Obama campaign. Valles lived in Chicago while Obama was a senator. SCYTL runs elections in numerous countries, such as England, France, Canada, Norway, Switzer-land, India, Australia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. In 2010, it was involved in modernizing election systems for the mid-term elections in 14 American states.

Alabama: Legislature passes redistricting plan amid anger | The Montgomery Advertiser

The Alabama Legislature passed plans early Thursday morning to redraw the 140 districts of state lawmakers, but did so in the Senate over angry and loud objections of Democratic senators. Democratic Sens. Rodger Smitherman and Bobby Singleton yelled for the proposed map of the 105 House districts to be read in its entirety, which some estimated would take 36 hours or longer. They said it violated the constitutional right of a senator to ignore their request to have it read. Smitherman, a Birmingham Democrat who had already had an angry confrontation with a senator in the chamber earlier, walked the Senate floor yelling about racism and prejudice, referring to the Ku Klux Klan and saying Alabama has gone backward. He continued shouting those words and phrases during the vote, and after the Senate recessed and members began to leave the floor.

California: New voting rules alter California primary campaigns | fresnobee.com

This year’s California elections will test the theory that having independently drawn districts and a “top-two” primary ballot will result in a less polarized, more collegial and more relevant political structure. It’s already evident that these changes are altering campaign dynamics. For one thing, they mean more heated intraparty contests because politicians were thrown together by an independent redistricting and, for the first time, declined-to-state voters have a role in choosing who goes on to November. Under “top-two” rules, it’s possible that in several districts, where large fields of candidates fragment the voter pool, the November election could pit an independent against a Democrat or Republican, while the other party’s candidate is frozen out.

Idaho: Elections were legit, officials say – ballot mistake did not compromise process | Idaho Mountain Express

A printer’s error and a misplaced poll log left some voters wondering about the validity of the Ketchum city election last week, but county election officials say the process was not compromised. Rick Martin, a Buhl resident and campaign manager for Republican Precinct 8 Committeeman Scott Shane, said he was able to print “legal” ballots off of the Blaine County website before the election on May 15. “Someone had posted on the [county website] the PDF for all 16 Blaine County ballots,” Martin said in an interview last week. “I was able to print legal ballots.” The county posts sample ballots on its website, so voters can view the ballots ahead of time. Typically, these ballots state that they are samples, so that no one would mistake them for ballots that would be able to be cast.

Minnesota: At least part of recount group’s ‘mystery CEOs’ case may be solved | MinnPost

At least part of Minnesota’s strange political mystery may be solved. That’s the puzzler of how business executive George Fraley was erroneously listed as the CEO of Count Them All Properly Inc. (CTAP), a Republican fundraising group for the recount of the 2010 governor’s race. Fraley says the cyber-trail shows that the listing originated within his own company,HealthLink Minnesota Management Group, an Edina firm that provides business services for medical practices. Fraley is executive vice president there. He says an internal investigation has shown that an administrative assistant at Healthlink, intending to enter Fraley’s name on the Minnesota secretary of state website on behalf of a client, mistakenly entered an ID number that led to the CTAP corporate filing.   “My attorney said, ‘George, maybe you need to tell me what’s going on because the [computer] IP address used to change this was yours,’ ” Fraley said. Fraley was concerned and perplexed by the news. “I was aware of some dispute involving Republican funding,” he said.  “I was not aware of Count Them All Properly.”

New Jersey: Mayor, son, arrested on charges they nuked recall website | Ars Technica

The mayor of a small New Jersey hamlet has been arrested, along with his son, on federal charges that they shut down a website advocating the mayor’s recall after breaking into the online accounts of political foes. According to federal officials, Felix Roque, the 55-year-old mayor of West New York, New Jersey, and his son, Joseph Roque, 22, were arrested early Thursday morning by FBI agents. In February, the pair planned and executed the silencing ofwww.recallroque.com by gaining unauthorized access to the GoDaddy account used to control the domain name. An FBI special agent filed documents with these allegations in a New Jersey federal court. The father-and-son team also obtained e-mails and messages sent among opponents after gaining unauthorized access to e-mail and Facebook accounts. “I have always treated you with respect and courtesy, but I have copies of everything sent to the website and communications with names,” Mayor Roque wrote in an e-mail to one of the opponents, whose identity had remained unknown to the Roques until they gained illegal access to the accounts. “Remember, I am in the Army with many friends.”

North Carolina: Sting video about North Carolina voting called incorrect, ‘infuriating’ | The Charlotte Observer

In an undercover “sting” video that has caused a stir since debuting online last week, a national group led by conservative activist James O’Keefe cites the cases of three Wake County voters in an effort to show that it’s easy to commit voter fraud here. The three examples used by Project Veritas, though, turned out to be wrong, according to elections officials and reporting by the News & Observer. And one family is upset that the name of their patriarch, who died in April, is being dragged into a political escapade. “I don’t even know what to say, except that it makes you feel violated,” said Winifred Bolton of Raleigh. She is the widow of Michael G. Bolton, who died of cancer April 23 at age 63. Michael Bolton is cited in the video, posted on YouTube, as an example of what the narrator calls “ballots being offered out in the name of the dead.”

Tennessee: Voter History of 488 Black, Democrat Erased from Shelby County records | WREG.com

The Shelby County Election Commission is investigating claims by a blogger that they have erased the voting history of 488 voters in Shelby County. The blog, blackboxvoting.org claims in an article published two weeks ago, that the Election Commission was “caught red-handed” erasing the voting history of the nearly 500 voters that the blog says are mostly African-American Democrats from the 9th Congressional District. Election Commissioner George Monger said Friday he looked into the claims and they are true. “What I looked at was the names on the list and I simply took those voter ids and compared them to the most recent data I got at the last Election Commission meeting and with that I did see that the voter histories were not in the particular report,” said Monger. Robert Myers Chairman of the Shelby County Election Commission said they began looking into the issue Thursday.

Wisconsin: Donations to Scott Walker Flagged as Potential Fraud | ProPublica

When MaryAnn Nellis tried to pay for groceries on April 14, her credit card was declined. Later, she said, she found out why: Her credit card company, Capital One, had flagged an earlier purchase as potentially fraudulent. The problem? A $5 donation to Friends of Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor’s campaign committee, Nellis said. Nellis told a Capital One representative she had not made the donation to Walker, who is fighting an effort to recall him as governor in a closely watched, expensive election set for June 5. “Over my dead body,” said Nellis, a potter and retired teacher in upstate New York who describes herself as “adamantly angry and upset” at Republicans such as Walker. Nellis disputed the charge and she was issued a new card. Though the amount of money was small, ProPublica decided Nellis’ complaint was worth following up. There have been other reports recently about insecure campaign-donation websites and the potential for fraud. Earlier this month, The Washington Times reported that Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney, was using a collection system that made online donors’ credit card informationaccessible to even amateur snoopers.

Egypt: Rivals claim run-off places | BBC

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for Egyptian president, Mohammed Mursi, is likely to face former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq in a run-off vote, according to partial election results. More than 11,000 out of 13,000 polling stations have declared results, in the first election since strongman Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year. Early counts put Mr Mursi on about 26% and Mr Shafiq at roughly 24%. Partial results are subject to recounts and final results are due on 29 May. The nationalist Hamdin Sabbahi, a fiery opponent of the Mubarak regime who became the choice of many of those supporting the revolution, appears to be in third place. He has taken a big lead in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, the city’s electoral authorities have announced. Campaigners for Islamist candidate Mr Mursi, standing for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, told reporters they were confident that he had won the most votes.

Egypt: Carter Praises Transparency of Presidential Election | allAfrica.com

Former United States President Jimmy Carter praised Egypt’s presidential election, particularly the high participation, considering it a model for the world to follow. Carter said, “The Carter Centre to monitor elections – which he heads – has monitored more than 90 elections worldwide, but the most important was Egypt’s presidential election, which was blessed with transparency, an eagerness to participate, integrity and an overwhelming turnout”, the Middle East News Agency reported. Carter’s statement came during his meeting with Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb in his office.

France: Two New French Voting Studies | The Least of All Evils

In the last couple days, two new voting studies have come out of France, following the Presidential elections there. One (translation to English) and two (and also in English.) The first included a look at approval voting, and the second score voting, with a range of -2 to 2, and both suggest that France would have gotten a different, and probably better, result if they had used either of these methods. Specifically, the first study found that, if approval voting had been used in the first round, that the two candidates to advance would have been Hollande (the Socialist leader who advanced in the real election, and went on to defeat incumbent center-right President Sarkozy) and the original fourth-place finisher,François Bayrou. Bayrou is an interesting character; he came in third in the previous election, and his Democratic Union party is considered a centrist group. The study also showed that, in a head-to-head match up, Bayrou would have beaten Hollande. This is some real-world data supporting the theory that approval voting does a better job of electing centrist candidates than plurality. They examined instant runoff voting as well, but got the same result as the plurality election, supporting that theory as well.