National: New Voter ID Laws: How Students Are Affected | NextGen Journal

New voter ID laws being enacted in states across the nation could prevent many college students from voting in the next election. These laws, which have been passed in states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, among others, have the stated goal of preventing fraud by requiring voters to present photo ID when they go to the polls. But these laws may have unintended consequences, both for young people and the two presidential candidates. Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote, a nationwide organization that mobilizes young voters, said that while these laws vary from state to state, they all make it harder for young people to register and vote. “We have a very busy year ahead of us, and a very important one,” she said in an April 21 Reuters article. “What a shame if we can’t continue to engage this generation in the political process, because these laws have made it harder.”

Editorials: Can State Laws Cohabit With Citizens United? |

The Supreme Court is expected to respond in June to a Montana Supreme Court decision upholding the state’s Corrupt Practices Act, which bans corporations from making political expenditures from their general treasuries. American Tradition Partnership, a nonprofit group, and co-petitioners sued for a declaration that the act violates their freedom of speech. They contend the Citizens United decision so clearly invalidates the Montana law that the justices should reverse the state ruling without oral argument. Montana, however, makes a sound and compelling argument that Citizens United, which struck down a federal ban on independent spending in political campaigns by corporations and unions, does not bar it from fighting political corruption with a carefully tailored campaign law. The Supreme Court should quickly uphold the state ruling, or hear oral argument before making a decision.

Colorado: Ballot review open only to select parties? – Hickenlooper must decide whether to veto HB 1036 | Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper is weighing a controversial bill that some believe creates a separate class of the public in reviewing ballots following an election, with the aim of maintaining anonymity while also allowing for transparency. House Bill 1036 — which began as Senate Bill 155, but was grafted onto HB 1036 in the waning hours of the regular legislative session — would solidify in statute that ballots are open to the public under the Colorado Open Records Act, but not immediately available to all members of the public. Instead, the bill would create a category known as an “interested party,” which would include political parties and representatives of issue committees, or stakeholders involved in the outcome of the election. Those “interested parties” would be granted access to ballots starting 45 days before any election and until the election is certified, while the rest of the public — including the press and watchdog groups — would be prohibited from reviewing the ballots until the election is certified by county clerks.

Florida: Broward Supervisor of Elections: Gov. Scott’s Voter Purge Will Remove Eligible Voters From Rolls | Think Progress

According to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, eligible voters will be removed from the voting rolls as a result of the massive voter purge ordered by Governor Rick Scott. “It will happen,” Mary Cooney, a spokeswoman for the Broward CouPress Thisnty Supervisor of Elections, told ThinkProgress. Late last year, Governor Scott ordered his Secretary of State, Kurt Browning to “to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls.” Browning could not get access to reliable citizenship data. So Scott urged election officials to identify non-U.S. citizens by comparing data from the state motor vehicle administration with the voting file.

Florida: Voter Purge, Minority Voting Rights Flashpoints Of New Showdown In Florida | Huffington Post

Florida officials made it clear Friday that the state will continue to purge as many as 182,000 suspected noncitizens from the state’s voter rolls — despite a coalition’s call to stop the process or prepare for court. In the last three weeks alone, the Florida secretary of state’s office has identified and started to purge what it says are at least 50,000 dead voters from the state’s rolls and stripped out about 7,000 convicted felons. Officials at the same time are defending a more controversial plan to remove as many as 182,000 suspected noncitizens from the state’s voter rolls. “Florida has a very shameful history of purging minority voters based on false information before presidential elections,” said Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, director of voter protection projects for the Advancement Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to protect voter rights. The Advancement Project is one of the five organizations in the coalition that warned Florida last week to discontinue plans to purge alleged noncitizens from the state’s voter rolls. It also called on the Department of Justice to temporarily halt the purge and investigate the state’s actions. “What’s happening now, is not only illegal but it’s inaccurate, Culliton-Gonzalez said. “There are actual citizens on these lists. So, what’s happening is completely counter to the fundamental principals of our democracy.”

Michigan: McCotter Could Get Booted from Ballot | Roll Call

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) is at risk of losing his place on the Aug. 7 primary ballot due to problems with his petition signatures, wreaking havoc on the GOP’s once secure hold on his seat. In a Friday statement, McCotter announced the Secretary of State had questioned whether he collected sufficient signatures to make the ballot. “I have been apprised my campaign may have submitted insufficient petition signatures to appear on the August primary ballot as a candidate for the 11th Congressional District’s Republican nomination,” he said in the late-night statement.

Pennsylvania: One voter-ID hurdle lowered, but for many, others remain | Philadelphia Inquirer

Amid the complexities of Pennsylvania’s new voter identification law, the news release sent out from Harrisburg on Wednesday promised to make things simpler. The Corbett administration was announcing it had worked out a way for PennDot to check with the state Health Department to verify state birth records – a “simplified method to obtain photo ID for Pennsylvania-born voters,” said the headline on the Department of State release. It may be simplified, but it still isn’t simple. The new wrinkle will lower one of the multiple hurdles the law has created for some of the people who don’t have driver’s licenses and need other forms of photo ID to vote in November’s general election.

Tennessee: “Erased Voters’ Gaffe May Force Changes by Shelby County Election Commission | Memphis Flyer

Whether it’s a case of a blind squirrel finding real acorns or a maligned activist coming into her own with important revelations, new questions raised about the Shelby County Election Commission by controversial Seattle-area voting-rights activist Bev Harris may well cause serious investigations and important procedural changes.
Allegations from Harris last week that hundreds of Shelby County voters — almost all black Democrats — have had their voting history erased have put Election Commission officials on the defensive and prompted a demand from 9th District congressman Steve Cohen Sunday that the U.S. Department of Justice and Tennessee State Election Coordinator Mark Goins look into her charges. “The ballot must remain free and open to all,” said Cohen, who had made similar requests for DOJ scrutiny following a glitch in the August 2010 countywide election that caused several hundred voters to be turned away, at least temporarily, after an erroneous early-voting list had been fed into the county’s electronic voting log.

Wisconsin: Stop the presses: Walker uncovers huge voter fraud | The Oshkosh Northwestern

The problem with the radioactive partisanship in Wisconsin is that otherwise intelligent folks who typically choose their words with care occasionally feel the need to launch rhetorical firebombs to stir up their respective political bases. This makes it virtually impossible for government leaders to come together to craft effective solutions to legitimate issues that require their attention. The latest example comes from Gov. Scott Walker, who as politicians go, is a straight talker, no doubt something he’s become more careful about these days since every syllable is scrutinized, inspected and combed for meaning. In an interview with The Weekly Standard, Walker said he was concerned about voter fraud in the coming June 5 recall election in the wake of the state’s controversial voter ID law being suspended by the courts. “I’ve always thought in this state, close elections, presidential elections, it means you probably have to win with at least 53 percent of the vote to account for fraud. One or two points, potentially,” he told the publication.

Editorials: Egypt Elections – a Choice Between Islamic Dictatorship and Military Authoritarianism |

For the next and final round of presidential elections, Egyptians are being asked to choose between an Islamic or military dictatorship both claiming legitimacy through the ballot box. Egypt may be following one set of democratic procedures, but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a transition to democracy, irrespective of who becomes the next President. Elections are only one element of democracy, and to reduce democratic practice to what happens at the polling station is highly problematic. We need to ask ourselves what the conditions are that have influenced people’s choices? And to what extent did these restrictive conditions influence their choices? Have they been offered money or in-kind goods for their vote? Have they been given misinformation that amounts to deception about the different candidates? To what extent are people being mobilized along religious lines? Are you on God’s side or not?

Wisconsin: Scott Walker: Voter Fraud is Worth “One or Two Points” in Recall Election | Slate

Wisconsin native Steve Hayes offers a long, empathetic take on Scott Walker’s attempt to survive a recall election. The highlight: An interview with Walker, who apologizes for nothing (why should he?) and tries to get inside the heads of the liberals who hate him. Why are they so adamant about reversing a voter ID law?

“I’ve always thought in this state, close elections, presidential elections, it means you probably have to win with at least 53 percent of the vote to account for fraud. One or two points, potentially.” That’s enough to change the outcome of the election. “Absolutely. I mean there’s no question why they went to court and fought [to undo] voter ID.”

There might be some question. The voter fraud issue was investigated in Wisconsin fairly recently, in the form of an Election Fraud Task Force and a deep dive into 2008’s vote results. The yearlong investigation charged 20 people — this in an election with around 3 million ballots. For fraud to equal “one or two points” in that election, you’d have needed 30,000-60,000 phony ballots. The proven fraud actually amounted to 0.0007 percent of all votes.

Egypt: Presidential candidates file appeals to election commission, charging vote fraud | Newser

Three top candidates in Egypt’s presidential race filed appeals to the election commission ahead of the deadline Sunday, alleging violations in the first round vote that they say could change the outcome. The appeals alleging fraud are likely to enflame an already explosive race. Preliminary results from last week’s election placed Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, as the two candidates entering a June 16-17 runoff. Thirteen candidates were on the ballot. Shafiq, who placed second after Morsi, said votes cast for him in one province were not included in the ballot count. Many voters reject both front-runners as polarizing extremists. Young, liberal secularists who led the popular rebellion that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak last year failed to place a candidate in the runoff.

Egypt: Third-place finisher calls for partial vote recount |

The third-place finisher in Egypt’s presidential race called Saturday for a partial vote recount, citing violations, his spokesman said. Early results show that Hamdeen Sabahi came in third by a margin of some 700,000 votes, leaving him out of next month’s run-off between the two leading candidates. Sabahi’s spokesman Hossam Mounis said the campaign has found evidence of many violations during the two days of voting that would affect the final results. He declined to give details about the violations but said appeals would be filed Sunday.

Egypt: Hamdin Sabbahi seeks recount | BBC

The candidate who is said to have come third – missing out on a run-off – in Egypt’s historic election has demanded a recount, citing many “violations”. Hamdin Sabbahi, from the leftist al-Karamah party, said conscripts had voted illegally. Mr Sabbahi missed out on the second round by 700,000 votes, according to unofficial results from state media. Next month’s run-off will be between candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Mubarak-era regime. The Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Mursi, has a slight lead on former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, with a reported 25.3% of votes against 24.9%.

Lesotho: Tense elections held in Lesotho | Reuters

Voters in the highland African kingdom of Lesotho went to the polls on Saturday in a wide-open election that analysts say could end without a clear result, as happened in 1998 when South Africa had to send in troops to quell unrest. The capital Maseru was quiet, with shops closed, as voters queued up on a crisp and clear southern hemisphere winter morning. Campaigning has been peaceful but a lack of opinion polls, and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s decision to quit the ruling party and go it alone under the banner of the new Democratic Congress (DC) party, have kept the landlocked nation’s two million people on tenterhooks. “I decided to go to the polls because I want changes. We are tired of this government, we need changes,” said Mohato Bereng, a local chief, planning to vote for the Lesotho Congress for Democracy.

Mongolia: Corruption Trial of Enkhbayar Postponed |

As he prepared to go on trial on corruption charges, the former president of Mongolia lay in a wrinkled hospital bed, where he was recovering from a 10-day hunger strike he waged to protest being held in detention by his successor’s government. Gaunt, barefoot and dressed in hospital-issue white pajamas, the former president, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, bore little resemblance to the populist leader who dominated Mongolian politics until he was defeated in 2009 by Tsakhia Elbegdorj, who now runs the country. But even in his apparently frail state, Mr. Enkhbayar angrily dismissed the charges against him in an interview on Wednesday, and criticized the timing of the trial as a ploy to remove him from the political arena just weeks before parliamentary elections. “If this is a political case, let’s do it now,” he said in fluent English. “But if we live in a real democratic country, and this is not just political theater, let’s take more time.”

Editorials: Egypt’s Polarizing Presidential Election | The Nation

Hours after the official results are announced in Egypt’s first-ever competitive presidential election, Ihab Badawi, a 28-year-old lawyer, is standing amid a throng of protesters in Tahrir Square. He holds aloft a cardboard placard bearing the smiling faces of the top two candidates—Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik—crossed out with a pair thick black Xs. Traffic snarls around the crowd as he echoes chants rising above the cacophony of angry car horns. “We do not accept this outcome,” Badwai says. “We are here to send a clear message to the military council and the rest of the corrupt ruling regime: the Egyptian people will not be silent.” Less than two miles away, a group of protesters breaks into and vandalizes Shafik’s campaign headquarters in the residential district of Dokki before setting it ablaze. Demonstrations erupt in other cities across the country, including Alexandria, Port Said, Ismailia and Suez. In the wake of the first round of Egypt’s landmark presidential election, the country is as polarized as ever, with two candidates sitting on opposite poles of a divide that has characterized Egyptian politics for decades.

Papua New Guinea: PNG calls state of emergency in capital | Canberra Times

Papua New Guinea MPs have voted to declare a state of emergency in the nation’s capital after rogue police officers surrounded Parliament House. If adopted, the emergency rule would give increased powers to PNG’s police commissioner to arrest and detain. The leader of government business, Moses Maladina, put the motion yesterday at a special sitting of Parliament and it is expected to come into force today. The government also voted to reject the decision of three Supreme Court judges to reinstate Sir Michael Somare as the nation’s leader. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said cabinet would meet last night to prepare advice for Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio, who must approve the state of emergency. Mr O’Neill said the state of emergency would be extended to trouble spots such as the Southern Highlands and Hela province, site of a multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project.

Lesotho: Tiny Lesotho holds peaceful election |

Lesotho – the tiny mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa, with the best (ok, only) skiing in Africa, and one of the world’s highest HIV infection rates – is getting recognition for something else: carrying out a peaceful election with a likely transfer of power.  After elections held this week, a majority of Basotho voters turned against the 14-year rule of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, expressing frustration with empty promises. With no party enjoying a convincing majority, five opposition parties this week cobbled together Lesotho’s first-ever coalition government and claim at least 61 seats of the 120-member parliament – with an ex-foreign minister, Tom Thabane, tabbed as the new premier.  With its straightforward process and absence of violence thus far, Lesotho gives a lesson in democracy that many other African countries — such as Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, and even nearby Madagascar, Zimbabwe, and South Africa could learn to emulate, political observers say.