Politico’s Robin Bravender has a piece on the home page today about the specter of a recount in today’s Wisconsin recall election, a cringe-worthy prospect given the state’s already intensely polarized environment. The idea that the recall might still be unsettled at the end of the evening, or that it might go to overtime, is one that’s largely been advanced in recent days by Democrats — they have an obvious interest in countering turnout-depressing polling suggesting that GOP Gov. Scott Walker has the race in the bag. But the notion of a contest that goes to a recount isn’t really all that far-fetched, as Robin notes.
Jane Boutan thought it was an invasion of privacy. Corrine Greuling worried about her safety. Viola Miller wondered if it could be used to steal her vote. They and others got upset after the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund mailed fliers over the weekend listing people’s names, addresses and whether they voted in the November 2008 and 2010 elections, as well as the same information for a dozen of their neighbors. “What am I supposed to do? Go shame my neighbor? Whether my neighbor voted or not is none of my business,” said Boutan, who lives in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. The fliers arrived in mailboxes over the weekend. The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, which is affiliated with the Greater Wisconsin Committee, is a liberal group that has run ads against Republican Gov. Scott Walker to help Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Tuesday’s recall election. The group did not respond to voicemail and email messages Monday afternoon, so the scope and cost of the effort was not known. But the Journal Sentinel heard from people across the metro area, from Oak Creek to Glendale, and Waukesha to Wauwatosa. Addressed to registered voters, the fliers say: “Who votes is public record! Why do so many people fail to vote? We’ve been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.”
Brace yourself: Wisconsin Democrats say they are preparing for the event that the hotly contested recall race could drag on for weeks, or even longer. Floating the prospect of a recount is, of course, a message that bolsters the party’s claims that the race is closer than people think and that it will go down to the wire — despite polls showing Walker with the lead. Yet there’s reason a recount can’t be so easily dismissed. Walker can’t seem to break his 50 percent ceiling of support among Wisconsin voters. His ballot support has hovered at either 50 percent or 49 percent in 12 of the 14 polls released since early May, and recent polls show the race tightening in the final stretch. “We’re very much anticipating that there’s a chance that we could be in a recount scenario,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. He said the party will have more than 440 lawyers in the field on Tuesday “doing election protection activities but also tasked with recount preparation, making sure that we know where absentee ballots are at, making sure that we have a strong handle on what’s happening out there.”
Wisconsin voters will decide on Tuesday whether to throw Governor Scott Walker out of office in a rare recall election forced by opponents of the Republican’s controversial effort to curb collective bargaining for most unionized government workers. The rematch with Milwaukee’s Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett, who Walker defeated in a Republican sweep of the state in 2010, is the end-game of six months of bitter fighting in the Midwestern Rust Belt state over the union restrictions Walker proposed and enacted. The recall election in closely divided Wisconsin, which helped elect Democrat Barack Obama as president in 2008, is seen as a dress rehearsal for the 2012 U.S. presidential election in November. The vote is also viewed as a test of strength between organized labor and conservative opponents, both of whom have poured money and effort into the contest.
The Voting News Daily: Battles Over Voter ID Laws Intensify, When Did Conservatives Change Their Mind About Campaign Finance Disclosure?
National: Battles Over Voter ID Laws Intensify | NPR As both parties turn to the general election, and the potentially pivotal role of minority voters, battles over voter identification and other new state election laws are intensifying. Voting rights groups, who say the new laws discriminate against minority voters, won a key victory Thursday with a…
As both parties turn to the general election, and the potentially pivotal role of minority voters, battles over voter identification and other new state election laws are intensifying. Voting rights groups, who say the new laws discriminate against minority voters, won a key victory Thursday with a federal judge’s decision to strike down portions of a Florida law that tightened rules for third-party groups that register voters. In his opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle said:
“Together speech and voting are constitutional rights of special significance; they are the rights most protective of all others, joined in this respect by the ability to vindicate one’s rights in a federal court. …[W]hen a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever … And allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives — thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote — promotes democracy.”
Editorials: When Did Conservatives Change Their Mind About Campaign Finance Disclosure? | Mark Schmitt/The New Republic
A decade ago, when Congress was debating the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, better known as McCain-Feingold, the conservative alternative to its modest tightening of regulations on political spending bore the wonderful name DeLay-Doolittle. The name represented not just the two primary sponsors—then-Reps. Tom DeLay and John Doolittle—but also what the bill would do, or not. As an alternative to restrictions on soft money and corporate spending, DeLay and Doolittle proposed to lift all existing regulations on political contributions, and replace them with a regime of immediate and complete disclosure on the Internet. DeLay and Doolittle faced two problems, however. First, its supporters soon disappeared from Congress under murky circumstances. DeLay was indicted on campaign-finance related charges in 2006 and resigned. Doolittle, deeply implicated in the Jack Abramoff scandal, left Congress in 2007. The third major supporter of the bill, Rep. Bob Ney, served 17 months in prison connected to the Jack Abramoff scandal. The second problem with DeLay and Doolittle was that its supporters didn’t mean a word of it. They didn’t want to disclose their donors and outside backers any more than they wanted to limit them—after all, they went to great lengths to hide information such as their dealings with Abramoff. It was only a slick way of changing the subject.
The Supreme Court will not take another look at the bribery conviction of former Ala. Gov. Don Siegelman. The high court on Monday turned away Siegelman’s appeal of his 2006 convictions. Siegelman was convicted of selling a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery.
Staying out of the increasingly controversial use of the criminal law to police political campaign donations, the Supreme Court chose on Monday to leave undisturbed the convictions of an ex-governor and a campaign contributor who sought to test the issue anew. The action had no direct connection to the recent case of the failed criminal prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards, but that case has added to the legal controversy. The Court took no action Monday on any of the seven new cases filed by Guantanamo Bay prisoners, leaving those to be rescheduled. The Court granted review of one new case, Bailey v. United States (docket 11-770), that will clarify the authority of police to detain a suspect while they are waiting to carry out a search warrant. The specific issue is whether police may hold a suspect who has left the place where a search is to be carried out, and is then kept in custody until the search is completed. Federal and state courts are split on the issue, which involves the interpretation of the Supreme Court’s 1981 decision in Michigan v. Summers.
California: Voters see election reforms firsthand as they prepare to cast primary ballots | The Republic
California voters will confront a longer ballot with more choices as they head to the polls Tuesday for the first statewide primary featuring sweeping voter-approved election reforms. A new top-two primary system and redrawn legislative and congressional districts are intended to blunt the influence of the two main political parties and lead to more competitive races involving more moderate candidates. Tuesday’s voting will test those assumptions. For the first time, an independent panel of citizens drew the boundaries for revamped legislative and congressional districts, and only the top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the November ballot, regardless of their political party. That’s likely to create several hard-fought and expensive contests in the fall, including some that feature members of the same party and independents.
Local election administrators form the front line in protecting voters from disenfranchisement. It was certainly welcome news that the Department of Justice sent a letter last week to Florida’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner to remind him of federal law prohibiting the Sunshine State from purging the voter rolls so close to an election. Voters and the courts also make a tremendous difference in the fight against state policies that could make it harder formillions of eligible Americans to vote. After seeing a wave of restrictive voting laws sweep the nation in the last year or so — the worst since the Jim Crow era — push back against these new but regressive policies is occurring across the country, from Maine to Texas andWisconsin to South Carolina. The quiet heroes in the Florida purge story, however, may be those fastidious local supervisors of elections who have committed themselves to protecting voters, following federal law, and publicly stating their opposition to sloppy purge practices. In mid-May, Detzner issued a press release announcing that he had a list of 182,000 people who were on the voter rolls, but ineligible to vote because they were non-citizens. Reports of similar lists for allegedly deceased voters and voters with criminal convictions soon surfaced. There is no dispute that our voter registration lists should be clean and accurate. However, the methodological problems with these types of purges and the proximity to the August primary generated abundant criticism. The almost immediate influx of stories of eligible Americans being incorrectly identified as non-citizens lent fuel to the fire, and many local supervisors of elections publicly criticized the planned purge.
Almost half of Florida’s voters will have their ballots counted this November by machines that can malfunction in as little as two hours and start adding votes. A New York study found that the precinct-based vote counter added votes in some races on a ballot, which can invalidate some or all of the votes. Although not used in Palm Beach County, Election Systems & Software’s DS200 scanner will count votes in some of the most populous counties in Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange. State elections officials stand behind the scanner, which they say has been thoroughly tested. Even so, the manufacturer issued a nationwide bulletin warning that the scanner needs to be carefully cleaned to avoid adding “phantom” votes.
Voting Blogs: Injunction in Florida Voter Registration Case Speaks to Clarity in Election Legislation | Election Academy
On May 31, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction in the case of League of Women Voters of Florida et al v. Browning et al, a case challenging Florida’s new voter registration law. In particular, the League and other plaintiffs were concerned about the requirement that voter registration groups must submit applications within 48 hours of the voter’s completion of the form – or face the prospect of fines. The judge’s order halts enforcement of the law (and its supporting rule) pending a full trial on the merits. Judge Hinkle’s order recognizes the interests of the state in enacting the law:
The state has a substantial interest in seeing that voter-registration applications are promptly turned in to an appropriate voter-registration office. Applications that are not promptly turned in may be lost or forgotten or otherwise mishandled. Just as a prudent law-enforcement officer promptly delivers evidence to the evidence room, a prudent voter-registration organization promptly delivers voter-registration applications to the voter-registration office. And applicationsthat are held and delivered to a voter-registration officeen masse, especially near a voter-registration deadline, impose an unnecessary burden on voter-registration officials. The state’s interests are easily sufficient to uphold a requirement for reasonably prompt delivery of applications. (pp.7-8)
Florida: State will defy order to stop purging voter list amid calls of ‘suppression’ | guardian.co.uk
Florida says it will defy an order from the US justice department to stop purging its voter roll of people the state claims may not be American citizens. The justice department has warned that the practice, which critics describe as “voter suppression” by Florida’s Republican administration aimed at stripping the ballot from people more likely to support Democrats, is illegal under federal laws. It has given the state until Wednesday to agree to halt the purge, something officials in Florida say they have no intention of doing. Federal authorities say that the state is obliged to get justice department approval for changes to its voting laws under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was introduced to end practices that prevented African Americans from exercising their democratic right in many southern states. The justice department also said that the purge appears to violate a federal law stopping voters being removed from the rolls less than 90 days before an election. Florida holds primaries in mid-August. But Chris Cate, a spokesman for the Florida secretary of state, said the purge will continue.
Editorials: Florida voters purge: A ham-handed solution to a problem that doesn’t exist | Orlando Sentinel
Bill Internicola had to show his papers. He received a letter last month from the Broward County, Fla., Supervisor of Elections informing him the office had “information from the state of Florida that you are not a United States citizen; however, you are registered to vote.” So Internicola had to prove he is an American. He sent the county a copy of his Army discharge papers. Internicola is 91 years old. He was born in Brooklyn. He is a veteran of the Second World War. He earned a Bronze Star for his part in the Battle of the Bulge. Yet he was required to prove to a county functionary that he is entitled to vote in an American election. We learn from reporter Amy Sherman’s story last week in The Miami Herald that this is part of a campaign by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, to weed non-citizens off the rolls of the state’s voters. Initially, Florida claimed 180,000 were possible non-citizens. That number was eventually whittled way down to about 2,600 people. In Miami-Dade County, where the largest number of them live, 385 have been verified as citizens. Ten – 10! – have admitted they are ineligible or asked to be removed from the rolls. The Herald recently analyzed the list and found it dominated by Democrats, independents and Hispanics. Republicans and non-Hispanic whites were least likely to have their voting rights challenged.
Pull back the curtain on the Montana secretary of state’s online election results, and you’ll find a small army of volunteers counting votes by hand. Yes, most of the state’s counties have technology do the work, and Missoula County has had help from machines since the 1970s, according to the elections administrator. But 12 of the smallest counties in Montana will count their ballots by hand on Tuesday night. “Imagine that,” said Meagher Clerk and Recorder Dayna Ogle. Meagher judges were counting by hand in 2008 during the hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Jon Tester and Conrad Burns, and the central Montana county with a population of 1,800 was getting calls for results from national media. But the judges could only count so fast.
North Carolina: House seeks to soften voter ID bill as Tillis addresses concerns about GOP agenda | NewsObserver.com
Republican lawmakers are renewing a push for a compromise measure that would require voters to show identification at the polls, conceding that voiding a veto of a tougher bill is unlikely. House Speaker Thom Tillis said he is intent on overriding more of Gov. Bev Perdue’s vetoes before adjourning at the end of the month. But he recently acknowledged the one hill too big to climb may be the voter ID legislation vetoed by Perdue that would require voters to show a driver’s license at the polls. A veto override requires a three-fifths majority, meaning a handful of Democrats would need to side with the Republican majority. The compromise measure being negotiated would allow voters to show a broad range of documents to prove identity, including bank statements, utility bills or any government documents with name and address. Voters without such documents would be required to show that their signature matched their voter registration form.
Dozens of men, women, children and dogs showed up early Monday morning outside the Madison Labor Temple, where labor-backed organizers sent them out in search of Democratic votes. Their goal was written in chalk on the sidewalk at their feet: “Barrett or Bust.” If Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) can pull off a come-from-behind win in an election to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Tuesday, it will almost certainly be because of volunteers like these, whom Democrats are counting on to overcome being outspent by tens of millions. Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker will try to become the first governor to successfully overcome a recall in an election Tuesday. Walker is being challenged by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Right now, Wisconsin has a Republican governor and lieutenant governor. But after Tuesday’s recall elections, the top two officials could be from different parties. In normal elections, the two candidates run on a single ticket. But in recall elections, public officials are on their own. So theoretically, Gov. Scott Walker (R) could hold on to his seat, while Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) could lose to Mahlon Mitchell, meaning Walker would have to work with a Democrat. “Highly unlikely,” former Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold told The Huffington Post when asked about this scenario. Both Mitchell and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) also dismissed the possibility, arguing that people were likely to choose two candidates from the same party. “We don’t see that split-ticket scenario at all. We’re not factoring that in,” said Barrett.
Egypt: Presidential candidates file appeals to election commission, charging vote fraud | The Washington Post
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, with two of the most polarizing candidates finishing first. 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. Young, liberal secularists who led the popular rebellion that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak last year failed to place a candidate in the runoff.
The final day of polling before the repeat election in Greece on June 17 showed the two main contenders neck and neck. The economic crisis has divided Greeks, who appear split on the causes and solutions to the country’s financial meltdown. The political stalemate only appears to be entrenching these divisions. Industrial disputes do not get much worse than this. The workers at the Hellenic Halyvourgia steel plant have been on strike for more than 200 days. Yorgos Sifonios is president of the workers’ union. He showed letters of solidarity from unions across the world. “The Union has undertaken collective action, which has roused the whole of Greece’s working class. Our strike has become a landmark, a model of how all workers must fight,” Sifonios said. The factory’s owner laid off 50 workers last year, blaming falling demand. The company declined an interview.
The Institute for Access to Federal Information, or IFAI, urged Mexico’s four presidential candidates to “boost transparency and accountability and make them a part of Mexicans’ political culture.” Over the past decade, since a transparency law and its implementing mechanisms were enacted during the administration of former President Vicente Fox, steps have had to be taken to “overcome resistance and attempts at regression by authorities who don’t understand that there’s no turning back,” IFAI’s president-commissioner, Jacqueline Peschard, said in a statement.
The U.S. and other Western democracies have spent the better part of the last decade pushing for democratization across the globe. We have intervened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and supported countless other efforts with aid and ideas to press democratic ideals for the disenfranchised and oppressed. While this is undoubtedly a worthy cause, there are still instances when even democratic nations need our attention. What is currently happening in Mongolia is a sharp reminder that we cannot ignore nations that are burgeoning democracies who suffer from crippling democracy deficits. Former Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar is due to stand trial today on charges of corruption and of misusing property and government powers. He was arrested in a televised dawn raid in April where viewers saw Mr. Enkhbayar shoved into a van with a sack over his head. The charges, he says, are a complete fabrication.