The Voting News Daily: Restrictive voting laws tied up in court, Investors Demand Disclosure on Companies’ Political Spending

National: Restrictive voting laws tied up in court | The Washington Post Stricter ID laws and other controversial voting restrictions, passed this year by several Republican-controlled legislatures, are hitting legal roadblocks that could keep many of the measures from taking effect before the November elections. Curbs on early voting, new ID requirements and last-minute efforts to…

National: Restrictive voting laws tied up in court | The Washington Post

Stricter ID laws and other controversial voting restrictions, passed this year by several Republican-controlled legislatures, are hitting legal roadblocks that could keep many of the measures from taking effect before the November elections. Curbs on early voting, new ID requirements and last-minute efforts to rid voter lists of noncitizens have been met with vigorous opposition from the Justice Department and civil rights groups, and in some cases, the provisions have been blocked by federal or state judges. “There has been a real push-back by the courts to these widespread efforts to restrict the vote,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, which opposes the new laws. “If those seeking to suppress the vote won round one, round two seems to be going to the voters.”

National: Institutional Investors Demand Disclosure on Companies’ Political Spending | Institutional Investor

On January 21, 2010, the day the Supreme Court delivered its landmark decision on Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission that it would overturn most of a century’s worth of regulations on corporate political spending, the $140 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund corporate governance department happened to be meeting to discuss the problem of untraceable political spending by companies in its portfolio. Patrick Doherty, the fund’s director of corporate governance, was making the pitch to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli that the political spending issue should be a central focus of New York Common’s corporate governance campaign for the coming year. The overlap was coincidental; before the court’s final decision on Citizens United, the case hadn’t attracted too much attention in the comptroller’s office or among most of the general public. That changed after January 21. Despite New York Common’s pre-Citizens United efforts to improve disclosure around corporate political spending ­— which primarily consisted of a concerted support of any shareholder resolution pushing the issue — the fund’s leaders hadn’t heard constituents express their opinions on the topic. But they spoke up after the decision on Citizens United, says DiNapoli.

California: Nonpartisan Primary Shows Independents to Be in Short Supply |

For those who hoped that an open, nonpartisan primary in California would bring in a new wave of independent candidates and voters, Tuesday’s primary might have felt like a splash of cold water. Turnout remained stubbornly low, and the vast majority of candidates who advanced to the fall election were registered Republicans and Democrats. But the election did provide a few surprises that would not have been possible with a traditional primary. For one thing, there could be as many as eight Congressional races in which two candidates from the same party run against each other in November’s general election. In 2010, voters approved plans to create an open primary, in which voters choose candidates regardless of their political affiliation and the top two vote getters move to the general election. For those who pushed for the change, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, then the governor, the changes were meant to break partisan gridlock and encourage candidates to cater to the middle. There was certainly no revolution this year. Still, there are some signs that the changes will affect the way Congressional and legislative races are run this year.

California: Super PACs play major role in California House contests | iWatch News

Usually, if you make a political run against someone in your own party, you have just one chance any given year: the primary election. But under new rules passed by California voters in 2010, several intra-party feuds are continuing until November in the Golden State. Tuesday was the first state-wide test of the new “jungle primary” or “top-two primary,” in which all candidates compete against each other regardless of party affiliation. Only the top two vote getters will be on the November general election ballot. In a handful of races, this means voters will see two Democrats — or two Republicans — pitted against one another. Political scientist Bruce Cain, the executive director of the University of California Washington Center, says these intra-party fights will be “spots of white-hot intensity.”

California: GOP catches a ‘top-two’ break | The Washington Post

House Republicans got a big break under California’s new primary system Tuesday, after Democrats failed to get a candidate into the general election for Rep. Gary Miller’s (R-Calif.) swing district. Under the new system, the top two candidates in an open field make the general election, regardless of party. So while Miller (27 percent) and Dutton (25 percent) split up about half the vote, four Democrats on the ballot split up the other half into smaller pieces. The result: The seat will stay Republican this fall.

Florida: Scott looks ready to fight DOJ over Florida voter purge |

Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is positioning itself for a showdown with the U.S. Department of Justice for demanding that Florida cease searching for and purging noncitizen voters. The DOJ gave Florida until Wednesday to respond to a letter, sent last week, that said the purge probably ran afoul of two federal voting laws. Florida will respond, but it probably won’t quit its effort and will likely ask the DOJ to clarify its interpretation of the federal laws it cited. “Our letter will address the issues raised by DOJ while emphasizing the importance of having accurate voter rolls,” said Chris Cate, spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who’s in charge of the state’s elections division. Cate would neither confirm nor deny what was in the state’s response, but he acknowledged that the state disagrees with the federal government and doesn’t plan to throw in the towel. “We know we’ve been acting responsibly,” he said.

Florida: Governor asks for review of 3 Florida Supreme Court justices | Orlando Sentinel

Three veteran Florida Supreme Court justices could possibly face a criminal investigation and legal action over the handling of their campaigns to remain on the bench. Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who has been critical of some of the court’s past rulings, on Tuesday asked a state law-enforcement agency to decide whether to investigate the justices over their use of state employees to help finish election-related paperwork. Meanwhile, a conservative legal group is raising questions about whether the justices may be violating ethics rules because they are raising money and urging voters to keep them on the bench. “No man is above the law, particularly those charged with enforcing the law,” said Shannon Gosseling, executive director of the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Voters this fall will decide whether Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince deserve new six-year terms. Two of the justices were appointed by the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles; Quince was jointly appointed by Chiles and then-incoming-Gov. Jeb Bush.

New York: Problems with voting machine ruled Cattaraugus-Little Valley proposition invalid | The Salamanca Press

A problem with a voting machine, most likely human error, has caused a proposition at the Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School District to be ruled invalid. The vote on Proposition No. 2, which asked voters to cast a ballot for the purchase of additional school buses, had been declared “passed” unofficially by the school district on May 15, the night of the votes. However, official results were not released for two days because school officials spotted an error. As previously reported, school officials ruled the proposition invalid when the official results were announced. “The night of the vote, when we tabulated everything, there were actually more votes cast for that proposition than there were voters who went in the door, signed the book and went into the machines,” said district superintendent Jon Peterson. “So we knew there was some error in the numbers.”

Editorials: North Carolina, Meet Citizens United |

The North Carolina Judicial Coalition is a new tax-exempt organization, known as a super PAC, supported by wealthy conservative Republicans who are determined to make this year’s race for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court ideological and expensive. This kind of influence in judicial elections is a direct result of the Citizens United decision, which allows corporations and unions to make unlimited so-called independent expenditures in campaigns. In a dissent in that case, Justice John Paul Stevens predicted that such spending would overwhelm state court races, which would be especially harmful since judges must not only be independent but be seen to be independent as well. North Carolina is proving him right.

Wisconsin: Recall exit poll: What happened? | The Washington Post

Governor Barrett, meet President Kerry. Exit poll numbers released to subscribers just before polls closed in the Wisconsin recall election Tuesday dangled the possibility that Milwaukee Mayor Tommy Barrett (D) could win. The numbers seemed to pop off the screen — 50 percent apiece for Barrett and Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the subject of the recall effort. Walker had a clear lead in independent pre-election polls, so the tie score sent analysts scrambling and buoyed Democratic hopes when the numbers were widely reported elsewhere minutes later at the official poll close time. Just a half hour later, the exit poll shifted to 52 to 48 percent, tilting in Walker’s favor. (The final margin appears to be seven percentage points.) A potential Gov. Barrett era had ended before it started, and a fresh round of bash-the-exit-poll commenced. For the exit poll, it was reminiscent of 2004, when leaked midday results showing Democratic contender John F. Kerry with leads in key states led his own pollster ask the candidate “Can I be the first to call you Mr. President?” These aren’t lone examples: Recall then-senator Barack Obama winning the New Hampshire primary? On Tuesday, as in the other instances, the fault is less about the exit polls themselves, than it is about a widespread, albeit understandable misrepresentation of the numbers. The exit poll is, after all, a poll, complete with a margin of sampling error and other foibles.

France: French E-voting portal requires insecure Java plugin | ZDNet

Imagine you’re an ordinary citizen who wants to vote online. As an IT security conscious user knowing that in 2012 the majority of vulnerabilities are found in third-party applications compared to Microsoft’s products, you regularly check Mozilla’s Plugin Check service to ensure that you’re not using outdated browser plugins exposing you to client-side exploitation attacks served by web malware exploitation kits. What seems to be the problem? According to Benoit Jacob, the problem starts if you’re a French citizen wanting to vote online, as the country’s E-voting portal currently doesn’t support the latest version of Java. If that’s not enough, the portal recommends users to switch to an alternative browser since Firefox blocks older Java plugins for security reasons, or use the insecure Java version 1.6.0_32.

Wisconsin: The Influence Industry: In Wisconsin recall, the side with most money won big | The Washington Post

If the Wisconsin recall battle was a test of the power of political spending, the big money won big. Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who survived an effort by Wisconsin Democrats to unseat him in a special election on Tuesday, outspent his opponent by more than 7-to-1 and easily overcame massive get-out-the-vote efforts by Democrats. The recall contest ranks as the most expensive in Wisconsin history, with well over $63 million spent by the candidates and interest groups combined. Walker was bolstered by wealthy out-of-state donors who gave as much as $500,000 each to his campaign under special state rules allowing incumbents to ignore contribution limits in a recall election. He raised $30.5 million compared to just $3.9 million by his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, according to data compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The big spending was made possible in part by the landmark Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , which allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds on elections and also made it easier for wealthy individuals to bankroll such efforts. Wisconsin was one of a number of states that had previously banned direct election spending by corporations and labor groups. As a result, many Democrats and campaign watchdog groups view the Wisconsin matchup as a test-run of sorts for November, when super PACs and other interest groups could spend $1 billion or more on political ads and organizing efforts in races for the White House and Congress. The outcome has also prompted hand-wringing on the left over whether pro-Democratic groups, which traditionally focus on ground-game organizing rather than advertising, will need to rethink their strategy.

Wisconsin: Democrats gain control of Senate in Wisconsin recall election |

There may be a glimmer of good news for Wisconsin Democrats despite last night’s convincing win by Republican Scott Walker in the recall race for governor. After a vote tabulation glitch in Racine County, Democrat John Lehman appears to have come out on top in a state Senate recall that late Tuesday night looked as if it was going the way of incumbent Republican Van Wanggard. The margin is less than 1,000 votes, and Wanggard has yet to concede though Lehman, who held the seat until 2010, declared victory. It’s only one seat, but that’s enough for now to flip control of the state Senate from the GOP to Democrats, a change that could in theory make things harder for Walker to impose his conservative agenda in Madison.

Wisconsin: Who’s running the election in Waukesha County? Nickolaus’ recall role in question | Journal Sentinel

While Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas and his chief of staff insisted Tuesday that County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus was not the one in charge of election duties for the recall election, she appeared to be at the helm. Nickolaus refused to respond to questions in her office, turning her back and closing her office door while a reporter waited at a service counter. Her deputy, Kelly Yaeger, didn’t respond, either. Nickolaus was observed passing out election supplies to local clerks leading up to Tuesday’s election, and she’s the one who fielded questions Tuesday from the field, said Gina Kozlik, Waukesha’s deputy clerk-treasurer. Shawn Lundie, Vrakas’ chief of staff, said he was confident procedures put in place with Yaeger would ensure smooth reporting of votes Tuesday night. Vote counting in the county clerk’s office appeared to go smoothly – an assessment confirmed by Lundie. About 80% of the vote was reported by about 10 p.m.

Cambodia: Prime Minister’s party triumphs in election test run | Reuters

Cambodia’s ruling party looks to have won a landslide win in local elections, putting authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen on course to remain one of the world’s longest-serving leaders after parliamentary elections next year. Official results from Sunday’s elections for the chiefs of areas known as communes are not expected for several weeks but the major parties were in agreement that Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had swept the polls, as it has in all national ballots in the past decade. The CPP claimed 72 percent of the seats in what it sees as a test of support ahead of the 2013 election. General elections take place every five years. “These results show a landslide victory,” top CPP member of parliament Cheam Yeap told Reuters. “This is a basic projection for the parliamentary election in the middle of next year.”

Canada: Canada wants this French election hushed up | The Globe and Mail

On Saturday, Canada saw its quietest election ever. It was the don’t ask, don’t tell election. Thousands of French citizens in Canada voted to choose a member of France’s National Assembly representing North America, in the first round of legislative elections. But Canada, alone among the world’s nations, objected to the election in the first place and said it shouldn’t be held on Canadian soil. Having someone represent Canada in another country’s parliament infringes on our sovereignty, Ottawa has decided. They don’t want rough foreign politics in our genteel streets. The French went ahead and Canada couldn’t stop it, so they made a deal with the French government: Have your election, but keep it quiet. The campaigning, heading to a second-round vote on June 16, is being done mostly through social media and in private places. It was a trade-off, but a worthless one. It showed Canada can’t stop foreign elections here. And it was yet more proof there really isn’t much point in trying. Canada is the only country in the world that objects. It’s time to get over it. Globalization is here. The trend will grow as more people spend time outside their native lands and many countries seek to have their diasporas vote.

Indonesia: Jakarta Election Officials Call for Fair Play | The Jakarta Globe

Three weeks before campaigning for the Jakarta gubernatorial election gets under way, poll officials have met with the media to emphasize the rules of campaigning. The Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) of Jakarta again called on media outlets to refrain from conducting a quick count before voting ended in the upcoming gubernatorial election. “Quick count surveys are not allowed while votes are cast between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.,” the head of Panwaslu’s Jakarta office, Ramdansyah, said on Saturday. He said a quick count survey conducted before polling booths closed would violate rules set out by Jakarta’s General Elections Commission (KPUD).

Montana: 3 western Montana counties plagued by vote-counting machine troubles | Missoulian

Leigh Riggleman pulled an all-nighter in Lincoln County after running into problems with a ballot scanner in the primary election. “There was no fix,” said Riggleman, assistant election administrator, on Wednesday. “The technician adjusted and adjusted and adjusted, and called, and talked to people, and it was merely a matter in some cases of running them (ballots) through a second time.” At least three counties reported problems with ES&S 650 ballot scanners in this week’s primary: Lincoln, Sanders and Powell counties. On Wednesday, an election official in Powell County said trouble originally attributed to the scanner was actually due to voter error. While the tallying took more time in some cases, Riggleman said voters can rest assured their ballots were properly counted: “I am still – even with all the problems – still satisfied with the integrity of our election process. I think across the state, we strive to do whatever we can to make sure the public doesn’t question our integrity.” ES&S did not return a voicemail left Wednesday afternoon on its media line, and a company field director also did not return a call for comment.