The Voting News Daily: Montana Ruling Could Fuel Campaign to Amend Constitution, After winning right to spend, political groups fight for secrecy

National: Montana Ruling Could Fuel Campaign to Amend Constitution | Roll Call The Supreme Court’s Monday ruling to strike Montana’s ban on corporate campaign spending opens a new chapter in the political money wars, fueling an improbable but increasingly vocal movement to amend the Constitution. “This Supreme Court ruling could be a watershed in terms of…

National: Montana Ruling Could Fuel Campaign to Amend Constitution | Roll Call

The Supreme Court’s Monday ruling to strike Montana’s ban on corporate campaign spending opens a new chapter in the political money wars, fueling an improbable but increasingly vocal movement to amend the Constitution. “This Supreme Court ruling could be a watershed in terms of the court aligning itself with the interests of big corporations,” said Jamie Raskin, a Maryland state Senator and law professor at American University’s Washington College of Law. “And the constitutional amendment strategy will be a way to plant the flag and rally people for a different vision of the Constitution and the country.” More than a dozen Members of Congress have proposed various constitutional amendments in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling to deregulate corporate and union political spending. Some declare that corporations are not people; others empower Congress and the states to restrict campaign spending and contributions.

Editorials: After winning right to spend, political groups fight for secrecy |

During their long campaign to loosen rules on campaign money, conservatives argued that there was a simpler way to prevent corruption: transparency. Get rid of limits on contributions and spending, they said, but make sure voters know where the money is coming from. Today, with those fundraising restrictions largely removed, many conservatives have changed their tune. They now say disclosure could be an enemy of free speech. High-profile donors could face bullying and harassment from liberals out to “muzzle” their opponents, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a recent speech. Corporations could be subject to boycotts and pickets, warned the Wall Street Journal editorial page this spring. Democrats “want to intimidate people into not giving to these conservative efforts,” said Republican strategist Karl Rove on Fox News. “I think it’s shameful.” Rove helped found American Crossroads, a “super PAC,” and Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit group that does not reveal its donors. “Disclosure is the one area where (conservatives) haven’t won,” said Richard Briffault, an election law professor at Columbia Law School. “This is the next frontier for them.”

Voting Blogs: The constitutionality of the national popular vote: refuting challenges based on Article II, Section One | State of Elections

The National Popular Vote (NPV) plan guarantees election of the presidential candidate who earns the greatest number of votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. NPV does not dispense with the Electoral College, and is not a constitutional amendment. Rather, the plan is based on two clear powers given to the states under the Constitution: the power under Article 2 Section 1 to choose how to allocate its presidential electors, and the power under Article 1 Section 10 to enter into interstate compacts. States in early U.S. history often exercised the power to change rules for allocating electoral votes. While today, 48 states and the District of Columbia award their electoral votes to the winner of that state’s popular vote, the founders did not originally contemplate this type of system, as James Madison explained in 1823.

Alaska: Federal government role in Alaska elections questioned |

Alaska election officials should not be barred from implementing the new redistricting plan because a requirement that the plan be approved by the federal government is unconstitutional, attorneys for the state contend. A federal three-judge panel is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday in the case brought by several Alaska Natives, who want the state barred from implementing the plan until the U.S. Justice Department weighs in on it. Justice has about a month yet to do so. Alaska’s primary is scheduled for Aug. 28. A divided Alaska Supreme Court in May approved use of the plan for this year’s elections, but any plan must pass muster both with the courts and Justice.

Arizona: Supreme Court’s Split decision Keeps Issue Alive for November | Roll Call

The Supreme Court’s split decision on Arizona’s immigration law gave President Barack Obama an important legal victory Monday while upholding just enough of the statute to keep the issue alive as he pursues Latino voters in advance of the November election. Indeed, the president’s advantage on the issue was clear given that top Republicans either declined to respond or, in the case of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, issued statements that vaguely supported states rights without commenting on the specifics of the tough Arizona law. The controversial “papers please” section of the law requiring police officers to try to ascertain the immigration status of people they suspect to be illegal immigrants was upheld, while the rest of the law adding state criminal penalties for immigration violations was gutted in a 5-3 ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. With the states constrained, the onus is squarely on Congress to fix the nation’s immigration system, but nothing beyond partisan posturing is likely on that front before November.

Colorado: Wildfires complicate Colorado primary elections | Colorado Springs Gazette

A low-key primary election day in Colorado took on an even more muted tone Tuesday: Destructive wildfires are dominating the public’s attention, and candidates were loath to campaign amid the smoke and flames. Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, the only sitting member of Congress from Colorado facing a primary challenge, spent the days before the election meeting with firefighters and seeking federal resources to battle a quick-moving fire that forced thousands to evacuate the Manitou Springs area. Lamborn’s opponent, Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha, canceled get-out-the-vote phone calls for all of El Paso County, which makes up some 70 percent of the voters in the 5th Congressional District. “Now is a time to respect other priorities for sure,” Blaha spokeswoman Tamra Farah said.

Florida: State won’t release larger list of possible noncitizen voters | Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott insists Florida’s voter rolls must be scrubbed carefully to remove any non-U.S. citizens, but his administration is keeping secret a list of more than 180,000 voters whose citizenship may be in question. Scott’s elections agency is refusing numerous requests from voter advocacy groups and news outlets to release the list, months after the state released an initial list targeting 2,625 potential noncitizens. Many people on the first list turned out to be citizens. The larger list has the potential to cause a bigger political controversy than the smaller one. “I want to be very careful,” said Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “It’s individuals’ names on there, and I want to make sure that people are treated respectfully. I want to be abundantly cautious about that.”

Indiana: 3rd District recount finds suspicious ballots | NWI Times

Officials conducting the 3rd District Lake County Commissioner recount already have found apparent voting irregularities in the first day of the new tally. James Wieser, an attorney for the county elections board, said North Township Board member Richard J. Novak is expected to contest a number of votes that apparently were cast after regular voting hours ended during the May 8 Democratic primary. He said the list of challenged ballots include eight cast in Dyer, two in East Chicago and four cast in Hammond’s 1st City Council District, for a total of 14 possibly questionable votes. Wieser said the recount still must proceed through Hammond’s five other City Council districts as well as precincts in Highland, Munster, St. John and Whiting. The recount began early Monday when technicians took the locks off of the first batch of voting machines. Novak and County Councilman Michael Repay were present in the voting machine garage as the three-man, court-appointed recount commission began its work to go over more than 9,800 votes cast in the May 8 Democratic primary race. Repay was declared the official winner by 74 votes. Novak is challenging that outcome.

Maine: Registration Cards in Short Supply as Maine Voter Enrollment Drives Heat Up | MPBN

A shortage of voter registration cards on hand at the Maine Secretary of State’s office is frustrating some groups and candidates who are launching drives to enroll new voters. The Maine Democratic Party says the secretary has dispensed up to 1,000 cards at a time in the past. Now that number has dropped to 50. Officials at the Secetary of State’s office say they are merely updating their forms and that new cards should be available next month. Colleen Lachowicz showed up at the Secretary of State’s office last week to pick up some voter registration cards. As a Democratic state Senate candidate from Waterville, she thought might use some of her campaigning time to register new voters. Although the Secretary of State’s Office commonly allows candidates such as Lachowicz to take up to a 1,000 cards, she says that’s not what she got. “I was told they only had 250 left so they said they could give me 20,” she says. “And I said, ‘Could I have 50?’ And so I was able to get 50 of them. And they had me sign a paper saying they could give me 50.” Lachowiscz says she can’t help but wonder about the effect the state’s current rationing system is having statewide. “I’m just concerned that if there’s only 250 of these things left, I’m sure there’s more than 250 people that want to get registered to vote at this time.”

Maryland: Supreme Court rules Maryland can count inmates at their home addresses | Washington Times

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling Monday that allows Maryland to count prison inmates at their last known addresses – rather than their prison addresses – for redistricting purposes, and upholds the map approved by the General Assembly last year. Activists had sued the state, saying that the newly drawn congressional districting map violated the U.S. Constitution. The map was developed by a committee appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley and based on census data and statewide input. It was also drawn to reflect a 2010 Maryland law that counts prisoners at their last known addresses, which differs from the U.S. Census Bureau’s policy of counting inmates at their prison addresses, used by most states.

Minnesota: Federal lawsuit seeks to tighten Minnesota’s Election Day registration procedures | MinnPost

Minnesota’s current Election Day registration system lies in the hands of a federal judge, who on Friday heard arguments from a conservative activist group seeking to strengthen procedures for determining voter eligibility. Erick Kaardal, attorney for the Minnesota Voters Alliance and several political candidates, argued that state election officials are not adequately ensuring that felons and wards of the state who are ineligible to vote are turned away from the polls. This so-called “vote dilution” from counting allegedly ineligible ballots could have had a significant effect on the extremely close elections in Minnesota during the last two cycles, he said. And the alliance is concerned about voter verification procedures for the November election, which includes the presidential race and the fate of constitutional amendments on Voter ID and on marriage. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and elections officials from Ramsey, Chisago and Crow Wing counties are all named defendants in the suit, which U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank heard on Friday.

Montana: Campaign-finance future haunted by Montana’s past |

William A. Clark, a Montana banking and copper magnate in the 19th and early 20th centuries, was quite the scoundrel. In the days when U.S. senators were still selected by state legislatures, he bought a seat by bribing lawmakers. After being exposed, he reportedly declared: “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale.” Barons like Clark — who poured money into Montana politics in the form of bribes, campaign contributions and expenditures that straddled the line — fomented a popular rebellion against corruption that led to a 1912 state law limiting the flow of campaign cash. Montana’s law stood for a century as governors and legislators of both parties backed it. Today, according to the state attorney general, the average winning Montana state senate candidate spends an almost trivial $17,000. Campaigns consist mostly of making speeches and visiting door to door, not slick, expensive TV commercials. The state’s top court upheld its law on the grounds that any reasonable reading of Montana’s history would conclude that massive flows of money into politics are corrupting.

North Carolina: New voter ID bill unlikely |

Lawmakers start their last week of work for the legislative session tonight. As legislators look to wrap up unfinished business, a key House leader says its unlikely that a new voter ID bill will be forthcoming this year. “It’s gone,” said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, who chairs the committee which oversees election laws and would have been the point person to shepherd a new voter ID bill through the House. Under current law, most voters do not have to show ID when they come to the polls. Under a version of voter ID bill that Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, vetoed last year, most voter would have to provide photo identification before casting a ballot. Proponents of the measure say voter ID would help make sure people don’t vote in the name of others or cast ballots when they’re not qualified to do so. Opponents say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud and ID laws would disproportionately keep poor, elderly and college-age voters from casting ballots.

Pennsylvania: Republican’s voter-ID remark brings him under political fire |

Innocent utterance or a major political Freudian slip? Either way, a top House Republican has come under fire for comments he made over the weekend regarding Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law – comments that critics say prove their contention that the law was motivated by the GOP’s desire to skew presidential elections in its favor. At a state Republican Party meeting in Harrisburg Saturday, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County listed legislative victories since Republicans regained control of both chambers and the governor’s office. Among them, he said: requiring voters, starting in November, to show an acceptable form of identification at the polls. Turzai then framed the effort in the context of November’s presidential election. “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania – done,” Turzai told the crowd, which promptly broke into applause. His comments swiftly began made it onto YouTube, and since then have called into question his – and his party’s – motives in supporting the measure.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin Senate recount could wind up in court | JSOnline

The odds of Racine’s recall recount winding up in court increased Tuesday, as Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard’s campaign said it may challenge canvassers’ decision to accept ballots from voters who did not sign the poll book. The recount is in its second week after Wanggaard’s campaign requested canvassers review an 834-vote victory that favored Democratic challenger John Lehman in the June 5 recall. Republicans’ latest contention of voting irregularities in Racine targets election workers who failed to ask voters to sign poll books as required by state law. The Wanggaard campaign also disputes the Government Accountability Board’s recommendation that canvassers accept the votes. Once canvassers certify the recall, the campaign could challenge the recount in court, potentially delaying Democratic control of the state Senate for weeks. The results of the recount will determine whether Republicans keep the majority or if Democrats take control of the Senate between now and the November general election. Since 2011, a new voting law requires that poll workers have voters sign a poll book.

Jordan: Jordan’s parliament endorses elections reforms gearing up for 2012 elections | The Washington Post

Jordan’s powerful Islamist opposition dismissed elections reforms Wednesday as “cosmetic,” hours after the legislature passed the changes to govern a parliamentary vote scheduled for later this year. Street protesters had demanded changes to the previous law dating from 2001, which the Islamist opposition says favors pro-government candidates and produces docile legislatures. The new law passed late Tuesday gives a concession to the opposition by allowing each eligible voter two votes, compared with one under the previous system. One vote goes to local candidates and the other to a 17-seat national list, giving country-wide ideological alliances like the Islamists a better chance to compete with region- or family-based politicians. But the opposition quickly said the changes were insufficient.

Lebanon: European Union calls for electoral reform in Lebanon | The Daily Star

The European Union stressed the importance of electoral reform in Lebanon, as it issued its first policy paper on its human rights and democracy work around the world as part of a yearly report Monday. In a section on Lebanon, the report highlighted the body’s push for electoral reform in the country. Two million euros have been allocated for the project, and the report emphasized the EU’s work toward adopting policy changes from the 2009 elections.

Mexico: Secretive Televisa unit promoted PRI candidate | The Guardian

A secretive unit inside Mexico’s predominant television network set up and funded a campaign for Enrique Peña Nieto, who is the favourite to win Sunday’s presidential election, according to people familiar with the operation and documents seen by the Guardian. The new revelations of bias within Televisa, the world’s biggest Spanish-language broadcaster, challenge the company’s claim to be politically impartial as well as Peña Nieto’s insistence that he never had a special relationship with Televisa. The unit – known as “team Handcock”, in what sources say was a Televisa codename for the politician and his allies – commissioned videos promoting the candidate and his PRI party and rubbishing the party’s rivals in 2009. The documents suggest the team distributed the videos to thousands of email addresses, and pushed them on Facebook and YouTube, where some of them can still be seen. The nature of the relationship between Peña Nieto and Televisa has been a key issue in Sunday’s election since the development in May of a student movement focused on perceived media manipulation of public opinion in the candidate’s favour. Televisa refused to comment on the specifics of the documents but denied suggestions it had favoured the PRI, saying it had done political work for all the major parties.

Mongolia: What is at Stake in Mongolia’s Election? | Brookings Institution

Amid important elections and transitions taking place this year in different parts of the world, it is easy to overlook the parliamentary election to be held in Mongolia on June 28. On that day, the country will choose its next government in one of the most consequential elections in its recent history. Consequential because―in a country with a 30 percent poverty level―the new government will be asked to manage the unprecedented revenues expected from its mining wealth in such a way as to benefit the many, not the few. As experiences elsewhere have shown, bad governance and mining wealth have rarely been a good mix for the fortunes of a developing resource-rich country. In the coming years, the challenge for Mongolia’s newly elected leaders and the country as a whole will be to rise to the occasion and not squander the opportunity presented to bring prosperity to its citizens, strengthen the economic underpinning for a sustainable democracy, and consolidate its international status.

South Korea: Divided progressive party’s online leadership election marred by server error | Korea Times

The ongoing leadership election of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) has been suspended due to errors in its server for online voting, party officials said Wednesday, amplifying uncertainties for the left-wing party beleaguered by an escalating factional conflict over alleged primary rigging earlier this year. The minor party with 13 seats in the 300-member National Assembly is set to elect its new leadership this week after a faction of alleged pro-North Korean forces lost power after it was found to be involved in the rigging of the party’s proportional representative primary for the April general election. … According to party officials, the server for online voting stopped at around midnight due to unidentified causes, resulting in a loss of the data collected since Monday. “Due to server problems, part of the voting results are missing and it is hard to restore them,” said an official of the party’s reformist emergency committee.