The Voting News Daily: Stealthy Super PACs Influenced Primaries Without Disclosing Donors, Report Says Anchorage Election Botched by Mismanagement, Cost-Cutting

Blogs: Stealthy Super PACs Influenced Primaries Without Disclosing Donors | OpenSecrets The Spirit of Democracy America super PAC, which registered with the Federal Election Commission on May 14, has no website. Money, however, was not a problem. The super PAC reported spending more than $160,000 supporting Republican Rep. Paul Cook with a series of media buys during…

Voting Blogs: Stealthy Super PACs Influenced Primaries Without Disclosing Donors | OpenSecrets

The Spirit of Democracy America super PAC, which registered with the Federal Election Commission on May 14, has no website. Money, however, was not a problem. The super PAC reported spending more than $160,000 supporting Republican Rep. Paul Cook with a series of media buys during his tightly contested primary campaign in California’s 8th congressional district — a total that accounted for 64 percent of all the outside spending in the race. The source of the funds that fueled Spirit’s expenditures in that race, though, is still unknown. Thanks to a particular quirk in FEC reporting rules, the group was able to run ads in the run-up to the California primary without disclosing its donors. When voters went to the polls June 5 and sent Cook on to the general election ballot, they did so without knowing where a heavy hitting super PAC came up with the money it used to try to influence their votes.  The office of Spirit’s treasurer, Thomas Hiltachk — a partner at a law firm with which the group shares an address — did not respond to requests for comment.   And Spirit of Democracy America is not alone. It and eight other super PACs that collectively spent nearly $1.3 million in recent primaries disclosed just $37,318 in 2012 cycle contributions prior to the time votes were cast, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis.

Alaska: Report: Anchorage Election Botched by Mismanagement, Cost-Cutting | Alaska Dispatch

Hands-off management, cost cutting and inexperienced staff — not politics or intentional efforts to influence outcome — were primarily responsible for Anchorage’s embarrassing April municipal election. That’s according to a nine-page report by a former Alaska Superior Court judge hired by Anchorage Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall to investigate what led to ballot shortages at nearly half the city’s polling places, with some residents turned away, unable to cast a vote. The April election, which included votes for mayor and a contentious initiative to add sexual orientation to the city’s equal-rights protections, turned out to be one with higher turnout than expected or planned for by the Municipal Clerk’s office. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan handily won re-election in the vote. Sullivan took his second oath of of office Monday via Skype from Hawaii, where he was vacationing with his family, according to a statement from his office. Proposition 5, which would have made it illegal to discriminate against Anchorage residents because of sexual preference or gender identity, failed.

Florida: Florida election law draws new legal challenge |

A Florida election law passed by the Republican-led Legislature is drawing yet another legal challenge. The American Civil Liberties Union, State Sen. Arthenia Joyner and the National Council of La Raza say that that the Secretary of State is violating state law because five counties are following different election rules than the other 62. Last year, state legislators passed a law that curtailed early voting hours, imposed new restrictions on groups that register voters and made it harder for people to change their address on Election Day. The law was strongly opposed by Democrats and triggered a lawsuit by voter registration groups. The changes have never taken effect in five counties – including Hillsborough, Monroe and Collier – because the law it still under review by a federal court. Federal authorities must review any voting changes impacting those five counties because of past discrimination.

Florida: Advocates calls for federal action to restore ex-felons’ voting rights | Naked Politics

Hundreds of thousands of Florida ex-felons who have completed their sentences still can’t vote, a prohibition that is hindering their re-entry into society, a group of voting rights advocates said Tuesday as they urged Congress to step in. Changes made last year in Florida have stopped restoration efforts for ex-felons who have served their prison sentences or completed probation, a shift in policy that came four years after former Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet voted to join most other states and automatically restore the rights of felons who had paid their debt to society. Hampered in efforts to change state law, Mark Schlakman, a Democratic candidate for Congress and Walter McNeil, former Department of Corrections secretary, on Tuesday urged Florida’s congressional delegation to push for federal law changes to require automatic restoration of civil rights for federal elections. The practical result, said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, would be that state election officials would follow suit because a dual registration system for state and federal elections would not work.

Illinois: Chicago, Cook County say $33.4 million to be saved through cooperation |

City Hall and Cook County government anticipate saving $33.4 million by combining efforts on elections, technology and other common interests, officials said Monday. Starting this fall, 3,000 fewer election judges and polling place administrators will be hired to staff elections, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office. In presidential election years, the cooperation is expected to save $5.6 million. When people call the county’s 311 system, they’ll get an automated answering machine instead of a person. The county eliminated its three 311 positions as a result, for a minor savings of $100,000. By the end of August, the county will convert to the city’s private information technology vendor for an anticipated savings of $5.1 million. Layoff notices have not gone out yet, and some people might be retrained for other IT vacancies. Both the city and county are outsourcing custodial work, but the $4 million in expected savings is coming from the county side.

Editorials: For felons, Iowa on wrong side of voting rights | Iowa City Press Citizen

There’s nothing to brag about in the fact that since Gov. Terry Branstad took over in 2011, Iowa has become one of the most difficult states in the nation for felons to vote. Last year, many civil rights groups were pleading with the newly re-elected governor not to issue an executive order that would return Iowa to a pre-2005 time when convicted felons didn’t have their voting rights restored automatically once they completed their sentences, probation or parole. Before 2005, felons could regain their voting rights in Iowa only by appealing individually for clemency — a lengthy process that required an investigation and a review by the governor. And because the process was so cumbersome that many ex-convicts decided not to follow it through, the net effect was near blanket disenfranchisement. In 2005, however, then Gov. Tom Vilsack issued an executive order that restored voting rights to nearly 100,000 of our fellow Iowans — many of them minority members — to participate in the political process.

New York: Court Hears Charlie Rangel Ballot Challenge | Roll Call

There’s a bit of a worm in the apparent Big Apple primary victory of storied Rep. Charlie Rangel (D). Rangel originally appeared to have beaten his top competitor, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, by a wide margin. The New York City Board of Elections now says that with normal ballots counted, Rangel is up by only 802 votes, or about 2 percent of votes cast. But with more than 2,000 other paper ballots, such as provisional and absentee (from city voters as well as military service members overseas), as yet uncounted, his margin could shrink. The results are still unofficial and there is a possibility, if very slight, that Rangel didn’t actually win the election. Or, at least, that there could be a recount.

Ohio: Cuyahoga County proposes charter amendment that could lead to fewer open elections |

Cuyahoga County Council is considering a charter amendment that some members say could help party insiders win council seats without facing open elections. The charter states that if a council member vacates a seat mid term, precinct committee members from that council district would choose a replacement to serve until the next countywide general election. But the amendment proposed by Democratic Councilman Dale Miller would allow appointees to serve out the term in cases where council members vacate their seats within 30 days of the filing deadline for a primary — or any time after that. That could mean that an appointee would serve three years of a four-year term without seeking election.

Ohio: Group wants redistricting question on Ohio ballots | The Republic

An Ohio coalition of voter groups said Tuesday that it has the signatures needed to get a question on the November ballot that aims to take away elected officials’ power to draw legislative and congressional districts. The state alters legislative and U.S. House district boundaries every 10 years to reflect population shifts. New maps were put in place for this year’s elections. The Voters First coalition is handing in more than 430,000 signatures to state officials on Tuesday to get its constitutional amendment before voters.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID law may hit more in Pennsylvania than originally estimated |

More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election, according to data released Tuesday by state election officials. The figures – representing 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voters – are significantly higher than prior estimates by the Corbett administration. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele has repeatedly said that 99 percent of Pennsylvania’s voters already had the photo ID they will need at the polls in November. The new numbers, based on a comparison of voter registration rolls with PennDot ID databases, shows the potential problem is much bigger, particularly in Philadelphia, where 186,830 registered voters – 18 percent of the city’s total registration – do not have PennDot ID.

China: After ‘Election’, Pro-Democracy Protests Hit Hong Kong | Forbes

Hong Kong just had its new ‘chief executive officer’ — Leung Chun-ying — sworn in during a ceremony on Sunday, while on the island people took to the streets in protest. Leung Chun-ying, of course, was surely not on any ballot. According to Reuters and Agence France Presse reports on the ground in the former British colony of Hong Kong, tens of thousands of protestors filled the streets of the financial district Sunday, saying there was nothing to cheer in their new leader Leung Chun-ying, a millionaire property consultant seen as close to China’s communist rulers.  During the swearing in ceremony with Chinese President Hu Jintao, protesters disrupted a speech with calls for a modern democracy.

Libya: It’s political party time in Libya: the key players | FRANCE 24

In a country that has not held an election for nearly half-a-century — not even the sort of sham polls that produce a 90-odd percent vote for the reigning autocrat — national election fever is running high in Libya. On July 7, Libyans will go to the polls in the country’s first free election since the rise and fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The last elections in Libya were held in 1965. Gaddafi, who came to power in a 1969 coup and stayed put for 42 years, did not even bother with the niceties of conducting a rigged referendum. Libyans will vote to elect members to a 200-seat constituent assembly — or transitional parliament — that will write a new constitution and establish a political road map ahead of full-blown parliamentary elections scheduled for 2013.

Mexico: Lopez Obrador asking for presidential recount | Reuters

Mexico’s presidential election runner-up, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Tuesday he would ask the country’s election authorities to recount the votes from Sunday’s contest, saying it was riddled with fraud. Lopez Obrador, who finished about 6.5 percentage points behind President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), said the process had been corrupted by PRI vote buying and other abuses, and that his campaign would ask the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) to recount the votes.

Nigeria: Politicians Condemn Voting Rights For Nigerian Election Commission Officials | Leadership Newspapers

Some politicians in Lagos on Monday condemned plans by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow electoral officers exercise their franchise in the 2015 general elections. The politicians argued that the proposal would not serve the electoral process well, but would rather compound its problems. It would be recalled that Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman, had on June 21, categorically said that electoral officers would vote in 2015, to end their disenfranchisement in the country’s electoral history. He explained that it was one of the measures being put in place by the commission to enhance the credibility of electoral process. In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr Sunny Moniedafe, said that electoral officers should be excluded from voting. “I don’t think it is proper for them to vote because it will affect their job of conducting election and they will be distracted. Of course, if there are competent people to take over while they go and vote, fine,” he said.

Palestine: Hamas Suspends Voter Registration in Gaza |

The Hamas-run government in Gaza suspended the work of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission on Monday, a day before it was to start registering new voters, abruptly halting one of the few tangible steps toward reconciliation with the rival Fatah party, based in the West Bank. The move pushed off the prospect of presidential and parliamentary elections. Though considered long overdue, no date had been set for them. The latest delay added a new complication in a reconciliation process that began more than a year ago with an accord brokered by Egypt that was described as historic but has mainly resulted in new rounds of talks, more documents and broken deadlines.

United Kingdom: Electoral Commission to test wording for proposed independence referendum question | STV

The Electoral Commission will be given the role of testing the wording of the proposed question for the referendum on independence, the Scottish Government has said. The commitment was made in a letter from First Minister Alex Salmond to opposition party leaders. Mr Salmond said: “It follows a process which is identical to that in current Westminster legislation and confirms that Scotland’s referendum will meet the highest international standards. “By accepting the central role of the Electoral Commission, we have accepted the requests previously put forward by the opposition parties.