Editorials: Citizens United gives free speech a high price | Jessica Levinson/Politico.com

As election 2012 progresses, there’s continuing hubbub about the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which paved the way for super PACs. Proponents of campaign-finance laws see the ruling as opening the floodgates for unlimited, often undisclosed, money to overwhelm our political system. Opponents view it as a victory of free speech over government regulation. Where does the truth lie? While super PACs may be “speaking” up a storm, it’s now difficult to hear anyone else. That can’t be good in a representative democracy, which has long prided itself on protecting free speech. A quick tour through the campaign-finance law landscape demonstrates there is much to be concerned about — unless you’re a wealthy donor or well-funded corporation.

Editorials: Coordinated nationwide effort could prevent as many as 5 million citizens from voting | San Jose Mercury News

Elections have consequences — some of them unintended. How many voters realized that Republican victories in 2010 would mean the disenfranchisement of potentially millions of voters? Since then, state lawmakers nationwide have introduced more than 180 bills to restrict voting rights, a trend that began during the George W. Bush administration. At least 18 states have passed laws that include requiring photo identification to vote, ending election-day registration and reducing access to early and absentee voting. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that as many as 5 million Americans could have difficulty voting this fall as a result.
These laws are no coincidence. They are a coordinated effort among Republicans to narrow the voting population in ways that will increase their power. The courts and the federal government are stopping some of these attempts, but it’s like playing Whack-A-Mole. The courts won’t be enough to protect voting rights if people keep electing lawmakers who want to restrict them. Voters need to make this an issue.

National: National Native American leader wants Indian Health Service to provide voter registration | The Washington Post

The head of the largest group representing Native Americans and Alaska Natives said federal and state governments should provide voter registration at Indian Health Service facilities. Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in a phone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that the health facilities should be designated voter registration sites in the same way state-based public assistance agencies are under the National Voter Registration Act. He said the facilities are ideal for voter registration because they’re in many tribal communities. “Not all Native Americans are registered, and that’s one of the things we are pushing for this year is to turn out the largest Native vote in history,” Keel said. Indian Health Service spokeswoman Dianne Dawson, reached late Tuesday evening, said the agency had no comment at this time.

California: Same-day voter registration bill moves forward in California Legislature | Ventura County Star

Election seasons come and go, and with them public attention to the political process waxes and wanes. “The really heartbreaking fact of the matter is that a lot of the excitement kicks in about two weeks before Election Day. But by then it’s too late, and a lot of people are left sitting on the sidelines,” said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “If we can engage people when they’re excited, we have an opportunity to create a lifelong voter.” The Legislature on Tuesday moved closer toward embracing one way to help Californians seize that moment by allowing voter registration to take place through Election Day — an approach that has sparked sharp partisan divisions in the past. On a party-line vote, with majority Democrats in support, the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved a bill to allow same-day voter registration as soon as a new statewide computerized database is operational. The system will let elections officials check the status of all voters statewide.

Georgia: Elderly voters concerned they may be cleared from voter rolls | CBS Atlanta 46

Hundreds of senior citizens at a Southwest Atlanta high rise are concerned they may lose their right to vote. Betty Walton has lived at the Atrium at Collegetown for nearly a decade, but according to Fulton County, her address isn’t real. “That doesn’t make any sense. You can see the building, so it does exist,” said Walton. Walton is one of hundreds of seniors who may soon be removed from the voter rolls because of a mistake by the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections. About a week ago, the department sent out a letter telling Walton and others like her that they had to provide proof that their address was valid. The letter said if they didn’t, they would be purged from the voter rolls.

Montana: Montana Case Could Give Supreme Court A Second Look At Citizens United | TPM

The Supreme Court could give Citizens United a second look this month as it decides whether to take up a lawsuit against the state of Montana, which wants its century-old state law restricting corporate influence in elections to stay in place. Montana is the only state so far to assert its existing corporate-money ban should still stand after the court ruled in 2010 that corporations could spend unlimited amounts on election ads via independent groups. The Montana Supreme Court upheld the 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, but the Supreme Court ordered that the law not be enforced while it reviewed a challenge by the conservative group American Tradition Partnership. The court is widely expected to strike the law down in keeping with its previous decision. Still, advocates view the case as their best chance yet to force the justices to re-examine elements of their landmark 2010 opinion that they say have already proven flawed in light of the subsequent deluge of campaign spending. Twenty-two states and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have signed on with Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock (D) in support of their claim.

New York: New York City Elections to Cost $80 Million | Epoch Times

Despite proposed budget cuts for sensitive programs such as day care centers and education, it is estimated the city will spend a total of $80 million for the four citywide elections in 2012, according to the Independent Budget Office (IBO). Each of the four elections may cost as much as $23 million, IBO states. The Republican presidential primary held in April, the first of the four elections had a small turnout. Only 5 percent of eligible voters cast ballots; the cost per vote was around $522. The price wouldn’t be as expensive if it weren’t for tight scheduling. There are usually three citywide elections per year, but a federal judge ruled that the congressional primaries in September are too close to the general election in November. Military personnel overseas would not have enough time to receive absentee ballots before the general election. Thus, a whole extra day of voting had to be added.

North Carolina: The cost of adding an item to a ballot | NBC17.com

Wake County commissioners made it clear Monday night in a 4-3 vote that a sales tax increase to pay for transportation projects is not likely to be in the hands of voters this November. They declined to schedule a public hearing that would lead the way for putting a half cent sales tax on the November ballot. If commissioners happen to change their minds, what would it take for that item to wind up on your ballot? Board of Elections Director Cheri Poucher said it’s not as simple as adding an item. At the very latest, commissioners would have to decide to add it to the ballot by the end of July, but all the special paper for ballots needs to be ordered by the end of this month.

Wisconsin: Lawmaker withdraws in Photo ID case | JSOnline

A state lawmaker is pulling his name from an effort to intervene in a lawsuit over the state’s photo ID law. Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer (I-Manitowoc) said he was withdrawing his name from a motion filed in the case after questions were raised about whether he was violating state ethics law by accepting legal help in making the filing. “I’m not trying to get in a big fight over a technicality,” Ziegelbauer said. “It’s more trouble than it’s worth.” Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, filed the complaint against Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and Ziegelbauer based on a Journal Sentinel report that the two were refusing to say who was funding their legal work.

Wisconsin: Recount under way in state Senate recall race | RealClearPolitics

A painstaking recount began Wednesday in the recall election for a GOP state senator from Racine County, where witnesses and campaign officials watched as tabulators sifted through stacks of ballots and pored over poll records. State Sen. Van Wanggaard requested the recount earlier this month after an official canvass showed him trailing Democratic challenger John Lehman by 834 votes, or 1.2 percent of the nearly 72,000 ballots cast in the June 5 election. The state Senate currently has 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans, so the winner of the 21st District recall race will give his party majority control. However, the power balance could shift anew before the Legislature reconvenes in January, depending on the results of the November election.  On Monday, state election officials ordered the Racine County Board of Canvass to begin the recount. By state law, the board has 13 calendar days from when the order was issued to complete the task. In this case, because that date falls on a Sunday, the board will have until the following day: July 2. Meeting that deadline could be a challenge. Two months ago the same board conducted a recount in a judges’ race that involved fewer than half the number of ballots. That effort stretched into the eighth day. County Clerk Wendy Christensen said she expected the current recount to be time-consuming but was confident the county would meet its deadline. She said the tabulators would work Saturday and take Sunday off, but that they may end up working the following weekend.

Dominican Republic: Paramilitary groups sought to destabilize elections, top official says | DominicanToday.com

Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Roberto Rosario yesterday revealed the presence of paramilitary groups in nearly all polling places on election day May 20, to usurp the legal authority and influence Dominican Republic’s election results. Rosario cited Monte Plata and Boca Chica among the main sites where the Electoral Military Police had to counter those groups, adding that he has documents with names of individuals and with the details as to how they operated. He said in each polling place groups were formed with six former military, trained to destabilize the process. The official said he’ll disclose the evidence on the groups’ activities once all the documentation is gathered from the polling places nationwide. “These actions are documented, and eventually we will make it public and release it all in writing.”

Indonesia: Candidates pledge to keep election fair, peaceful | The Jakarta Post

Candidates for Jakarta governor signed an agreement at the city police headquarters on Wednesday, pledging to keep the city secure and peaceful all through the election process. Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the voters’ list, which may result in the election’s postponement, the candidates chatted with each other and waved to media people during the signing ceremony. Apart from committing to support an honest and fair election, other points in the pledge include the readiness of the six pairs of candidates to accept the election’s results, ability to control supporters and willingness to face the law if found to have violated the law.