The Voting News Daily: Donations by texting may get FEC approval, Ballot language latest arena for state voter ID disputes

National: Donations by texting may get FEC approval as soon as Friday | The Hill The Federal Election Commission (FEC) may approve a request to allow campaign contributions from voters’ text messages as soon as Friday, an adviser to the commission’s chairwoman said. In an FEC meeting on Thursday, attorneys with Arent Fox — the firm…

National: Donations by texting may get FEC approval as soon as Friday | The Hill

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) may approve a request to allow campaign contributions from voters’ text messages as soon as Friday, an adviser to the commission’s chairwoman said. In an FEC meeting on Thursday, attorneys with Arent Fox — the firm representing the consulting and aggregation firms asking for the ruling — appeared before the commissioners to answer questions and assuage fears of campaign finance abuse. Arent Fox submitted an advisory opinion request in May on the text donations for clients Red Blue T and ArmourMedia. M-Qube, a “merchant billing aggregator” that would be “party to these transactions,” was also included on the request, as The Hill reported at the time. A third draft of the request, discussed at Thursday’s meeting, seemed to satisfy most of the commission.

Voting Blogs: Ballot language latest arena for state voter ID disputes | electionlineWeekly

The fight over photo ID requirements for voters is once again finding its way into courts – but this time the issue isn’t about the merits of ID but rather about ballot language putting the question to voters. In Minnesota, voter ID is supposed to be on the November 2012 ballot. After DFL Governor Mark Dayton vetoed ID legislation in 2011, GOP majorities in the Legislature agreed earlier this year to put the question to voters – action that does not require the Governor’s approval. Given that public opinion polls suggest that voters favor ID, supporters are hopeful that voters can provide the energy to push ID past the opposition of the Governor and DFL legislators. As it has in virtually every state, the dispute has sharply – and fiercely – divided the state’s political establishment. Groups across the spectrum have lined up to support and oppose the amendment. There is a chance, however, that voters may not get the chance to have their say. The Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments about whether or not the ballot language describing the amendment is sufficient. As the language currently stands, voters will be asked if the state constitution should be amended “to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters”.

California: As Californians embrace vote-by-mail, number of unprocessed ballots swamp election offices | The Republic

The votes are all in for the California primary, but many remained uncounted Wednesday, leaving some contests still up in the air, notably the statewide question on whether to increase the tax on tobacco to fund cancer research. With more voters casting their ballots by mail, local election officials can’t process them all on Election Day, even one such as Tuesday that produced one of the lowest turnouts ever for a statewide primary. While tabulations show votes from all precincts across the state, many votes will remain uncounted for days or weeks afterward. No one had a precise estimate of the uncounted votes statewide, but it was at least 800,000 and perhaps a million or more as of Wednesday.

California: Shift in voting rules shakes up primary elections | San Francisco Chronicle

The potentially dramatic effects of two landmark ballot measures approved by California voters in recent years began to emerge Tuesday with a primary election that could lead to shifts in the state’s legislative profile in Sacramento and Washington. In the Bay Area, the new order was most apparent in southern Alameda County, where 19-term Democratic Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark of Fremont was leading county prosecutor Eric Swalwell in the redrawn 15th Congressional District – but by far less than typical for an incumbent. Come the November election, Stark will be facing not a Republican, but fellow Democrat Swalwell – the result of the inaugural run of the state’s “top two” primary system, in which the two leading vote-getters in the primary advance to the fall ballot regardless of party affiliation. The idea was approved by voters as Proposition 14 in 2010.

California: Democrats are Largest Party in California’s 31st U.S. House District, But Top-Two Open Primary Leaves Party with No Candidate in November | Ballot Access News

California’s 31st U.S. House district ballot in November 2012 will list two Republicans, Gary G. Miller and Bob Dutton. At the June 5, 2012 primary, Miller placed first with 26.9% of the vote, and Dutton placed second, with 25.1% of the vote. However, the district has more registered Democrats than registered Republicans. The registration in the district is: Democratic 40.8%, Republican 35.3%, independent 19.3%, other parties 3.6%. The district is centered on San Bernardino County and had no incumbent running this year. Four Democrats, but only two Republicans, ran in the June 5 primary. It is virtually certain that if fewer Democrats had run, Pete Aguilar, a Democratic candidate and Mayor of Redlands, would have placed among the top two. Aguilar placed third, with 22.5% of the vote. Democrats had been expecting to win this seat in November, but now it is impossible, because no Democrat is on the November ballot.

Florida: Judge’s ruling means voter registration efforts will resume, ramp up in Florida | Palm Beach Post

Voter registration groups say they’re ramping up their efforts in Florida after a federal judge last week issued an injunction blocking what he called burdensome portions of the state’s 2011 election law. Some voter-registration organizations have already signed up tens of thousands of Hispanic voters, but several organizations, including non-partisan groups such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, had abandoned registration efforts because of the elections law passed by the GOP-dominated legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year. With U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling blocking key parts of the law involving registration, the League and Rock the Vote said Wednesday they are going to resume registration efforts, joining Democratic and Republican parties and liberal and conservative groups already working throughout the state.
The left-leaning Florida New Majority, which dropped its registration campaign after the law went into effect, also will resume its efforts, policy and legislative director Badili Jones said.

Florida: Voter Registration groups relaunch drives, but state digs in on voter purge | Facing South

Florida’s ever-escalating voting wars (see hereand here) have seen two big developments recently. First: Last week, a judge blocked most of Florida’s aggressive new restrictions on how groups can register voters. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle argued in his opinion that the time limits and penalties thrust onto groups like the League of Women Voters, which ultimately caused them to famously shut down their voter registration drive in the state, was unconstitutional:

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.

That decision led the League and Rock the Vote to announce this week that they wereresuming their voter registration drives in the battleground state.

Massachusetts: Election reform package passes in the House | Bay State Banner

The Massachusetts State House recently passed an election modernization bill that will make it easier for people to register to vote, increase the security and integrity of the vote counting process and welcome new young voters in Massachusetts. “This is a big victory. If this bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law by the governor, it will be the most significant reform to strengthen the vote-counting and voter registration processes in Massachusetts in 20 years,” said Avi Green, co-Director of MassVOTE. There are five main components of the Election Laws Reform Act. The first is mandatory training for local election officials. Municipal election officials must attend annual training given by the Secretary of State to keep current with state and federal election laws. Second, election audits will be performed in three percent of precincts, which will be randomly chosen after each election.

Minnesota: Voter ID supporters seek to intervene in lawsuit trying to stop amendment | TwinCities.com

A group supporting an amendment to the state’s constitution requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls says it will seek to intervene in a lawsuit on the issue before the Minnesota Supreme Court. Jeff Davis, president of Minnesota Majority, said the group plans to file a motion Friday, June 8, to intervene because it lacks confidence that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will vigorously defend the proposed amendment against a lawsuit seeking to keep it off the November ballot. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit May 30, arguing the ballot question is misleading. The state Supreme Court has set oral arguments for July 17.

Minnesota: State Supreme Court drawn into newest chapter of ‘voting wars’ | StarTribune.com

The Minnesota Supreme Court plans to move quickly in determining whether to change or quash a constitutional amendment on voter ID before it appears on the November ballot. The court has ordered oral arguments for July 17, an expedited schedule that would allow it to order changes to the ballot question before the November election. Opponents have asked the court to strike the ballot question, which would require voters to obtain government-approved photo identification before voting. They say that as worded, the amendment gives short shrift to broader changes the amendment would make. In its scheduling order, the high court has also asked the state for a deadline by which a decision is needed “in order to modify the ballot, if necessary, before the November” election.

South Dakota: Winners remain after lengthy recount in Davison County, but numbers change | The Daily Republic

The winners are the same: Tracy, Gunkel, Vehle, Putnam, Kriese and one-way streets. The vote totals and margins, however, did change after the votes cast in Tuesday’s local elections were counted twice more Thursday at the Davison County Courthouse in Mitchell. The new counts had been deemed necessary Wednesday after Auditor Susan Kiepke acknowledged errors in Tuesday’s results. Thursday, Kiepke blamed the errors on the county’s vote-counting machine or the software used with it. Vote totals seem to have been changed at “random,” she said. “It appears to be a software problem,” she said. A technician from Election Systems & Software, of Omaha, Neb., spent the day in the office trying to figure out what went wrong and assisting with the recount. He said he is not permitted to disclose his name and declined to answer most questions, but he defended the machine. “Nothing. I didn’t find nothing wrong with the machine,” he said.

Texas: Recount in Harris County GOP judicial primary now up in the air | Chron.com

A Republican judicial candidate who had requested a hand recount of all mail ballots cast in her race has hit a snag in the law that may derail that recount. The tallies in the County Civil Court-at-Law No. 2 race stand at 61,956 for incumbent Theresa Chang and 61,721 for challenger Donna Detamore, according to the Harris County Clerk. Detamore went to bed ahead, but woke up roughly 200 votes behind after County Clerk Stan Stanart said the Republican Party ballot board (charged with verifying the authenticity of mail ballots) delivered about 2,700 ballots after 10 p.m. on Election Day, leading to the late shift in the tally.

Wisconsin: Senate power likely shifts to Democrats; Wanggaard ponders recount | La Crosse Tribune

Wisconsin Democrats moved ahead Wednesday with plans for running the state Senate, even though the crucial recall contest they say handed them a one-seat majority remained too close to call. At a news conference, Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller of Monona said he is the new majority leader and has already spoken with Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald about the transition, dismissing the possibility that incumbent GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard might seek a recount. “We look forward to opening up the governmental process to the public,” Miller said. Fitzgerald said Miller’s stance is premature. Democrats forced Wanggaard, Fitzgerald and two other GOP senators into recalls as payback for supporting Gov. Scott Walker’s divisive policies. One of the senators resigned rather than defend her seat, creating a 16-16 split between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats had to win only one of the contests Tuesday to seize control of the chamber; Republicans cruised to wins for three of the seats but had to win all four to retake a majority.

Wisconsin: Recall election: The jet-propelled Republican | The Economist

If history is written by the winners, this was the night for the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, to add his name on the ledger. On June 5th Mr Walker faced a recall election to drive him out of office—only the third attempted recall of a governor in America’s history. This was prompted by statewide outrage when, last year, the pushy Republican brought in a law curbing the collective-bargaining rights of public-sector workers. Mr Walker defeated his opponent, Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee—Wisconsin’s biggest city—by seven points, a wide margin. No governor has survived a recall before, but in a political campaign that has drawn, by the latest accounting, an astonishing $63.5m in funding—most of it from outside groups—Mr Walker outspent his opponents six or seven times over.

Indonesia: Jakarta Election Commission Will Not Change Voter List Despite Fictitious Registered Voters | The Jakarta Globe

The Jakarta election commission confirmed that there were thousands of fictitious and double-registered voters on the final voter list (DPT) for the upcoming gubernatorial election, but they insisted they would not revise the list. “Despite thousands of double-registered voters and fictitious voters, we will not change the data on the final voter list that we issued on June 2,” Dahliah Umar, chairwoman of the Jakarta Election Commission (KPU), said on Thursday. Dahliah said the solution to the problem was to hold one of the double-registered voters’ cards. She said the commission would compile a list of the double-registered voters and give the data to polling station committees. She claimed this solution would not violate regulations because the commission cannot change the number of voters listed on the final voter list. However, issuing an inaccurate final voter list leaves the KPU vulnerable to lawsuits. “The solution is we will inform the polling station committees that the voters have been registered at other polling stations,” Dahliah said. “So the committee will not allow those voters to cast their votes at that polling station.”

Malaysia: UN experts urge Malaysia to protect poll activists | Channel NewsAsia

UN human rights experts have denounced what they called “disturbing” harassment of Malaysian activists who are pushing for election reform and urged the government to protect them. The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections staged a rally by tens of thousands in Kuala Lumpur on April 28 that ended with protesters clashing with police, who arrested more than 500 people. Since then, leaders of the coalition, which groups dozens of non-governmental organisations, have complained of an official campaign to “demonise” them and of tacit harassment by authorities of coalition members.

Mongolia: Former Mongolia President Ineligible for Election | WSJ.com

Former Mongolian President Enkhbayar Nambar said he has been deemed ineligible to stand in this month’s parliamentary elections, in the latest setback to his attempted political comeback at a time when fresh questions are being asked about the nation’s democratic foundations. In an interview Thursday, Mr. Enkhbayar said the General Election Commission of Mongolia informed him it wouldn’t accept his application to participate in the June 28 election due to a pending corruption case against him and after consultation with state prosecutors. Mr. Enkhbayar, who served as president from 2005 until 2009, denies the corruption allegations and said he intends to challenge the commission’s decision. Messages left with the commission weren’t returned.