The Voting News Daily: White House responds to petition on replacing FEC commissioners, Texts Could Draw Small Donations

National: White House responds to petition on replacing FEC commissioners | The Hill The White House on Friday responded to a petition from watchdog groups calling for the replacement of five Federal Election Commission (FEC) commissioners before the 2012 election, but declined to comment on either a timeline or possible candidates. Ten campaign finance reform groups…

National: White House responds to petition on replacing FEC commissioners | The Hill

The White House on Friday responded to a petition from watchdog groups calling for the replacement of five Federal Election Commission (FEC) commissioners before the 2012 election, but declined to comment on either a timeline or possible candidates. Ten campaign finance reform groups created a “We the People” petition calling on the Obama administration to replace five out of six commissioners. The five commissioners’ terms have expired and the commission’s deadlock is holding back further clarifications on significant issues coming out of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling, the advocates said. While the White House emphasized the president’s similar distaste for the Citizens United decision and his support for reform, the letter stated personnel choices would not be disclosed publicly prior to final decisions.

National: Rules of the Game: Texts Could Draw Small Donations | Roll Call

In an election increasingly defined by big money, the Federal Election Commission’s recent move to permit campaign contributions via text message strikes many as the perfect antidote. “I really do think this is a potential game changer for the campaign finance system,” said Brett Kappel, an election lawyer with Arent Fox, who represented a pair of consulting firms that asked the FEC to clear donations via text. “I think it can bring the individual small donor back into the system, and they can play a significant role.” Proponents of fundraising via mobile text point to a long list of benefits. Texting can tap vast numbers of small donors and raise large sums in a short amount of time, note a diverse array of political players who petitioned the FEC to approve the practice. They point to the tens of millions of dollars raised via mobile device in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. About 4.3 million Americans donated $43 million to Haiti earthquake relief via text message, according to a January report by the Pew Internet Project.

National: U.N. says Voter ID laws are a domestic matter |

A United Nations agency has assured an organization of black conservatives that it has no intention of investigating U.S. voter ID laws, as requested by the NAACP. In March, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sent a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, to tell the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that because of voter ID laws passed in several of the 50 states, citizens were being denied the right to vote. But last week, Project 21 of The National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives sent a three-man delegation to U.N. headquarters in New York to refute the NAACP’s claims. Bishop Council Nedd II, a board member of Project 21, tells OneNewsNow some of the details of that delegation.

Editorials: Voter Suppression Returns: Voting rights and partisan practices | Alexandar Keyssar/Harvard Magazine

The 2012 election campaign—for Congress as well as the presidency—promises to be bitterly fought, even nasty. Leaders of both major parties, and their core constituents, believe that the stakes are exceptionally high; neither party has much trust in the goodwill or good intentions of the other; and, thanks in part to the Supreme Court, money will be flowing in torrents, some of it from undisclosed sources and much of it available for negative campaigning. This also promises to be a close election—which is why a great deal of attention is being paid to an array of recently passed, and pending, state laws that could prevent hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of eligible voters from casting ballots. Several states, including Florida (once again, a battleground), have effectively closed down registration drives by organizations like the League of Women Voters, which have traditionally helped to register new voters; some states are shortening early-voting periods or prohibiting voting on the Sunday before election day; several are insisting that registrants provide documentary proof of their citizenship. Most importantly—and most visibly—roughly two dozen states have significantly tightened their identification rules for voting since 2003, and the pace of change has accelerated rapidly in the last two years. Ten states have now passed laws demanding that voters possess a current government-issued photo ID, and several others have enacted measures slightly less strict. A few more may take similar steps before November—although legal challenges could keep some of the laws from taking effect.

Voting Blogs: Why James Madison Wanted to Change the Way We Vote For President |

One of the most common criticisms of plans to modify or eliminate the Electoral College is that to do so would be to deviate from the wisdom of the Founders of the American political system. But the “Father of the Constitution” himself, James Madison, was never in favor of our current system for electing the president, one in which nearly all states award their electoral votes to the statewide popular vote winner. He ultimately backed a constitutional amendment to prohibit this practice. As historian Garry Wills wrote of our fourth president, “as a framer and defender of the Constitution he had no peer.” Yet, when he helped create the Constitution and when he defended it years after his presidency, Madison repeatedly argued for alternatives to the winner-take-all method of choosing a state’s presidential electors. Like other leaders of that time, he looked at the world with clear eyes and learned from experience, unafraid to support change when that change made sense.

Alaska: Judge allows election to proceed, despite redistricting concerns | Alaska Dispatch

A federal court in Alaska ruled on Friday against a group of Alaska Natives who wanted the court to stop the state from preparing for what it called an “illegal” redistricting plan for the 2012 elections, pending a ruling from a court. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason found that the preparations for the election will not cause “specified irreparable damage,” prior to an upcoming hearing on the plan. She did not, however, express an opinion on the merits of the pending redistricting plan. On June 28, a three-judge panel will consider whether election planning can proceed pending final say from the Department of Justice on whether the plan violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

Alaska: New Report on Botched Anchorage Election Says City Broke its Own Election Laws |

A new report, released by a group of Anchorage voters who paid for a partial recount of April’s botched municipal election, calls into question several of the processes employed by election workers both on election night and during a recount afterwards.  It was presented in front of the Anchorage Assembly today, by Anchorage voters Linda Kellen Biegel, Melissa Green, Carolyn Ramsey and others. The report also says the city violated its own election code, known as Title 28, when election workers handed out photocopied or sample ballots in place of official ones when polling places ran dry.

Arizona: Voter-ID Law Gets Temporary Pass From U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy | Phoenix News

In April, the U.S. Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a portion of Arizona’s voter-approved voter-ID law, intended to keep non-citizens from voting. Because of that ruling, Arizona was supposed to stop enforcing the law. But a new order by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy permits the law to go into effect — for the time being. Kennedy’s order comes in response to Arizona Solictor General David Cole’s motion on Wednesday that sought a stay to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.

Florida: Voter purge explained | The Washington Post

Laws designed to clamp down on voter fraud have been causing controversy all over the country. But in Florida, an attempt sparked by Gov. Rick Scott (R) to remove non-citizens from the voter rolls has become particularly heated, devolving into dueling lawsuits, with officials refusing to carry out directives from the secretary of state. The Department of Justice is suing the state over the purge. Florida is suing the Department of Homeland Security. What happened? As the Miami Herald reported, Scott became interested in the number of non-citizen voters early in his tenure. The state wanted to use the Department of Homeland Security‘s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database, but federal officials denied access. Instead, the state elections board relied on the information from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to determine citizenship. Then-Secretary of State Kurt Browning abandoned the effort, saying the data was too flawed. (For example, some people gain citizenship after getting a driver’s license. Some names on the list were simply there by mistake.)

Guam: Election Commission Running Short of Cash at It Prepares for Election | Pacific News Center

Guam Election Commission Executive Director Maria Pangelinan says the GEC is struggling to make ends meet as they prepare for the upcoming primary and general elections. Pangelinan told the Rotary Club of Guam Monday that the GEC is “barely functioning” with a budget of only $850 thousand dollars. That is less than previous years, she said. Pangelinan also spoke about the Commission’s efforts to increase voter participation this year and to encourage more people to enroll in the Decolonization registry.

Maine: Recount scheduled for State House race | The Kennebec Journal

Maine election officials have scheduled a ballot recount in a state House primary race that was decided by two votes. A recount will be held Tuesday for the House District 47 Republican primary, which covers Rockland and part of Owls Head. Unofficial results from last Tuesday’s primary showed GOP candidates Gordon Mank Jr. with 165 votes and James Raye with 163 votes. The seat is currently occupied by Democrat Edward Mazurek, who is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.

New Mexico: State ends straight-ticket voting option | KRQE

A fixture on ballots for decades, the option to vote a straight party ticket is disappearing in New Mexico and won’t be available when people head to the polls in November. Voters historically could easily choose to support a party’s entire slate of candidates by making just one mark on the ballot or pressing a single button or level on a machine. But Secretary of State Dianna Duran has decided not to allow that in this year’s general election because there’s no provision in state law specifically authorizing it. “Her job is to follow the law,” said Ken Ortiz, the secretary of state’s chief of staff. What remains unclear is whether elimination of the straight-ticket option will disproportionately help or hurt Democratic or Republican candidates.

South Carolina: Election Commission asks State Supreme Court to intercede in 7th District primary |

The State Election Commission filed an emergency petition with the S.C. Supreme Court Monday asking for relief from a lawsuit over the 7th District Democratic primary and a restraining order that prohibits the Commission from preparing or distributing election materials for the Republican runoff as well. “The real concern is that voters are going in to participate in the Republican (runoff) and they can’t give them absentee ballots,” Marci Andino, executive director of the Election Commission said late Monday afternoon. She said the Commission’s filing was seeking a ruling without a hearing, but that she had received no word that one had been issued by 5 p.m.

Virginia: Federal appeals court affirms right to access voter registration applications | Daily Record

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, rejecting an Alabama county’s challenge to the landmark civil rights law. The provision requires state, county and local governments with a history of discrimination to obtain advance approval from the Justice Department, or from a federal court in Washington, for any changes to election procedures. It now applies to all or parts of 16 states. In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that Congress developed extensive evidence of continuing racial discrimination just six years ago and reached a reasonable conclusion when it reauthorized section 5 of the law at that time. The appellate ruling could clear the way for the case to be appealed to the Supreme Court where Chief Justice John Roberts suggested in a 2009 opinion that the court’s conservative majority might be receptive to a challenge to section 5. Judge David Tatel wrote for the Court of Appeals majority that the court owes deference to Congress’ judgment on the matter.

Wisconsin: Vos claims that Lehman victory was achieved with “voter fraud” | The Recall Elections Blog

Republican House Rep. Robin Vos is now claiming that John Lehman’s close victory in the Wisconsin Senate recall was due to voter fraud and “illegitimate” because it was under the old district lines. Vos claimed that “Unfortunately a portion of it was fraud.” However, his factual back-up seems embarrassingly iffy for such a significant claim:

“There was no double checking to make sure that people even resided for 28 days,” he added.” I think people came in with same-day registrations and to their credit, I mean that’s just part of the get out the vote effort. But you have to have some sort of ID, in my mind; I think that was another thing that led to the potential for fraud.”

Wisconsin: Elections board orders recount in Senate race |

A recount request filed by state Sen. Van Wanggaard was approved Monday by Wisconsin election officials, who ordered Racine County officials to begin reviewing all of the nearly 72,000 ballots cast starting Wednesday, June 20. Wanggaard requested a recount last week, three days after an official canvass showed him trailing Democratic challenger John Lehman by 834 votes. The margin represented 1.2 percent of the 71,868 ballots cast. Democrats had called on the Republican incumbent to concede, saying a recount would only waste taxpayer money and delay the inevitable. But Wanggaard’s campaign said it was concerned about reports of voting irregularities and wanted to ensure the outcome was accurate.

Wisconsin: State senate recount order expected Monday | WTAQ

The state Government Accountability Board will order a recount of results, in the 21st state Senate District recall election between incumbent Republican Van Wanggaard and Democratic challenger John Lehman. Government Accountability Board staff attorney Mike Haas says the order for the recount will issued by GAB on Monday, and the Racine County Clerk’s office will begin the process at 9:00 Wednesday morning. “The recount has to be completed within 13 calendar days of the date that we issue the order. After that time there’s an appeal period of five business days, if a candidate wants to appeal to circuit court,” says Haas. Barring an appeal, GAB would then certify the results. Right now, Democrat John Lehman leads Republican incumbent Van Wannggard by 834 votes. Costs of the recount will be borne by the taxpayers of Racine County, although the Wanggaard campaign did pay a fee $685 when the petition requesting the recall was filed with GAB.

Egypt: Election Results Delayed |

Egypt’s Presidential Election Commission said it would delay the announcement of a winner in the weekend contest as it pressed forward with an investigation into fraud claims. The commission’s decision, reported by the state news agency, didn’t say when it would announce results, which had been expected to come on Thursday. The delay and the unusually vigorous investigation deepened suspense in a country on edge as it waited to learn who will be its first freely elected president. Conflicting reports about the deteriorating health of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who was briefly pronounced “clinically dead” by state media late on Tuesday before authorities called that an exaggeration, have heightened tensions. “The most dangerous 48 hours in the history of Egypt,” the state-run Al Ahram Newspaper blasted across its front page on Wednesday. Some 3,000 additional soldiers were deployed to protect government buildings across the country as the military braced for unrest following the announcement of results, the newspaper reported on its website.

Egypt: Islamists claim presidency as army tightens grip | Reuters

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said on Monday its candidate won the country’s first free presidential election, but a sweeping legal maneuver overnight by Cairo’s military rulers made clear the generals planned to keep control for now. An election committee source told Reuters that Islamist Mohamed Morsy, a U.S.-educated engineer, was comfortably ahead of former air force general Ahmed Shafik with most of the votes tallied. But the count, which would make him the first civilian leader in 60 years, had yet to be officially finalized. In any event, however, the new president will be subordinate for some time at least to the military council which last year pushed fellow officer Mubarak aside to appease street protests.

Libya: Election Campaigning Starts | Tripoli Post

Campaigning for the country’s first national election in more than four decades set for on July 7, started Monday as the eligible candidates, 2,501 independents, and 1,206 political association candidates eligible and the 1,206 associated to the 142 parties, Eill be vying for a place on the national assembly that will be entrusted with drafting a constitution. During his 42-year rule, Gaddafi banned direct elections, saying they were bourgeois and anti-democratic. The new assembly will re-draw the autocratic system of rule put in place by the former Libyan dictatorial leader Muammar Gaddafi. The electoral commission said in a statement during a press conference at the weekend, that candidates will have 18 days to campaign, until July 5, that is, two days before the election.