The Voting News Daily: Has SCOTUS OK’d campaign dirty tricks?, List of 180,000 suspect Florida voters to be made public

Editorials: Has SCOTUS OK’d campaign dirty tricks? | Richard L. Hasen/ An obscure procedural order issued the day after the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law got lost in the saturated media coverage of the health ruling and the palace intrigue over whether Chief Justice John Roberts switched his vote…

Editorials: Has SCOTUS OK’d campaign dirty tricks? | Richard L. Hasen/

An obscure procedural order issued the day after the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law got lost in the saturated media coverage of the health ruling and the palace intrigue over whether Chief Justice John Roberts switched his vote and alienated his conservative colleagues. Without comment or dissent, the justices declined to hear Minnesota’s appeal of a federal appeals court ruling in 281 Care Committee v. Arneson — holding that Minnesota’s law banning false campaign speech about ballot measures is likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The result could be even nastier campaigns and more political dirty tricks. Minnesota had asked the Supreme Court to hold its petition until the court decided United States v. Alvarez, the so-called “Stolen Valor” case. The court decided Alvarez the same day as health care, striking down as a free speech violation a federal law making it a crime to falsely claim to be a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Alvarez casts considerable doubt over when, if ever, states can take actions to combat false campaign statements and campaign dirty tricks — including lying about the location of a polling place or the voting date. The court could have used the 281 Care Committee case to clear up the muddle next term. But it just denied the petition. Without new clarity, I expect anyone charged with making election-related lies to raise a First Amendment defense. Which they just may win.

Florida: List of 180,000 suspect Florida voters to be made public | Naked Politics

After weeks of declining to make it public, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration now says it will release a much larger list of more than 180,000 voters in Florida whose citizenship status is in question. Secretary of State Ken Detzner said two weeks ago that he would seek an advisory opinion from Attorney General Pam Bondi as to whether the database was public record under Florida law — a political hot potato if ever there was one. Detzner did not request the opinion, and his spokesman, Chris Cate, says: “Our conclusion is that the set of 180,000 names is a public record. We are in the process of redacting it now so that it can be provided to everyone who has made a public records request.”

Georgia: Kemp says lawmakers will have to consider ending runoff elections in Georgia | AJC

State lawmakers will have to consider getting rid of runoff elections in Georgia next year – at least those involving federal candidates in general elections – because of a recent ruling by a U.S. district judge requiring 45 days for ballots cast by members of the U.S. military to make their way home, Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Monday. Ballot requirements insisted on by the U.S. Justice Department and upheld by the court last week all but invalidate a current state law requiring that winners in all general elections receive 50 percent plus one vote, Kemp said – given that federal runoffs in those contests would have to be delayed until late December. “We’d be voting during Christmas. There may be people getting certified while other people are getting sworn in. It’s really a logistical nightmare,” Kemp said.

Michigan: McCotter’s resignation timing difficult for Michigan election officials | Detroit Free Press

Local election officials are anxiously awaiting word from Gov. Rick Snyder on whether a special election will be held to fill the remaining time of U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter’s term of office in Congress. The timing of McCotter’s resignation on Friday, following a petition signature scandal that erupted on Memorial Day weekend, couldn’t be much worse. It’s too late to include a special election during the Aug. 7 primary election because absentee ballots already have been mailed to thousands of voters. And the resignation comes as thousands of voters already are confronted with the prospect of new congressional representation because of redrawn districts, dictated by population shifts that are reported every 10 years by the U.S. Census.

Minnesota: Opponents pummel Ritchie over amendment titles | Minnesota Public Radio

What’s in a name? Well, it may be the difference between winning and losing, according to supporters and opponents of two referenda heading for the ballot in November. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has now renamed both of them. First, he renamed the marriage amendment “Limiting The Status Of Marriage To Opposite Sex Couples.” It had been called “Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman.” The most recent change came this afternoon, when Ritchie decided to rename the state’s proposed voter ID amendment, designated by its legislative sponsors “Photo Identification Required for Voting.” Ritchie decided to rename the amendment “Changes to In-Person & Absentee Voting & Voter Registration; Provisional Ballots.” Supporters quickly cried foul.

North Carolina: State Supreme Court hears redistricting issue Tuesday |

legal battle over North Carolina’s redistricting maps will reach the state Supreme Court on Tuesday but the case is far from finished, as justices must first decide how much of the correspondence between mapmaking lawmakers and their lawyers should be disclosed. The state’s highest court will hear oral arguments about whether the public should learn about legal advice outside attorneys gave to Republican legislative leaders on drawing General Assembly and congressional seat boundaries, getting them enacted and preparing for potential lawsuits. Civil rights and election reform groups as well as Democratic voters who sued in November to overturn the maps on constitutional and discrimination grounds have asked for records to attempt to buttress their case. They’ve already received hundreds of thousands of pages. Taxpayer-paid contract attorneys representing GOP lawmakers say some of their documents should remain confidential due to attorney-client privilege and other restrictions.

New York: The cost of democracy? $36.30 per voter in Onondaga County |

New York’s June 26 primary where Republicans chose Manhattan lawyer Wendy Long as their nominee for U.S. Senate just missed setting a record-low for voter turnout in Onondaga County, according to the final unofficial tally. A total of 4,105 people voted out of 85,374 active Republicans enrolled in Onondaga County, according to the Board of Elections. It amounts to a voter turnout of 4.8 percent. That means the record-low of 4.6 percent is safe for now. That record was set it in the 2006 U.S. Senate GOP primary when John Spencer defeated K.T. McFarland for the party’s nomination.

Ohio: Court Rules Husted is Still Bound by Consent Decree on Provisional Ballots Agreed to by Previous Secretary of State | Ballot Access News

On July 9, U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted must continue to abide by a consent decree agreed to by his predecessor Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner. Husted is a Republican and Brunner is a Democrat. The consent decree provides that provisional ballots are valid when they are cast in the right building, but the wrong precinct, and if the provisional voter revealed the last four digits of the Social Security Number when voting provisionally, and if the error was made due to polling place official error. Apparently Ohio has many polling places in which multiple precincts vote in the same building. The case is Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless v Husted, 2:06-cv-896. It is not known if the Secretary of State will appeal.

Wisconsin: Wanggaard won’t challenge recall election loss | Green Bay Press Gazette

epublican state Sen. Van Wanggaard decided not to go to court to challenge his recall election loss, effectively conceding the race Tuesday to his challenger and giving Democrats at least a temporary majority in the Wisconsin Senate. Wanggaard, of Racine, lost to Democrat John Lehman by 819 votes, or about 1.1 percent of the nearly 72,000 ballots cast. Wanggaard had demanded a recount, which affirmed his loss. That left Wanggaard with two choices: File a challenge by Tuesday or concede the race. His campaign chose not to challenge, clearing the way for state election officials to certify the race Wednesday morning and make the outcome official.

Wisconsin: Investigating, fixing Nickolaus election errors to cost Wisconsin county $256,300 | JSOnline

A consultant’s report traces problems in reporting Waukesha County election results directly to mistakes by outgoing County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus – mistakes that will cost county taxpayers more than a quarter of a million dollars to fix. Nickolaus had promised to post timely results online and update them periodically for the April 3 election. But the public didn’t learn the results of contested local races for hours, while reporters and election reporting service representatives were forced to tabulate the vote totals themselves from long paper tapes hanging on the walls of a meeting room. The embattled county clerk already was under scrutiny because of her role in the 2011 state Supreme Court race, when she left the entire city of Brookfield out of countywide vote totals. When those 14,000 votes were added in, two days after the election, Justice David Prosser had won by 7,000 votes, instead of narrowly losing to Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, as the original count showed. But the uncertainty over the Waukesha County vote led to a statewide recount that confirmed Prosser’s victory.

Canada: Voting rights at stake in overturned election case, Supreme Court told | The Chronicle Herald

The voting rights of people in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre were trampled by simple record-keeping errors, the Supreme Court of Canada heard Tuesday. The decision to overturn Conservative MP Ted Opitz’s win in last year’s federal election disenfranchised all the voters whose ballots were thrown out, his lawyer said. “It’s hard to think that a constitutional right of this importance can hang by so fine a thread,” lawyer Kent Thomson told the court. Opitz won the riding by just 26 votes over Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj in last year’s federal election. But Wrzesnewskyj went to court, claiming procedural irregularities. Earlier this year, an Ontario Superior Court judge found that Elections Canada officials made clerical errors at the polls. After Justice Thomas Lederer threw out 79 votes and overturned the final result, Opitz appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

Jordan: Opposition leaders suggest postponing elections to draft ‘acceptable law’ | The Jordan Times

Opposition leaders have suggested that parliamentary elections be delayed until next year, so that the government will have time to draft a new elections law acceptable by all. They made the remarks as political powers were still internally discussing their final stance on whether to boycott or participate in the upcoming elections, expected to be held before the end of this year. The Lower House on Sunday endorsed an amended version of the 2012 Elections Law, raising the number of House seats allocated for the national list to 27. A majority of MPs voted in favour of the government’s amendments, under which the number of seats allocated for the closed proportional list at the national level was raised to 27 instead of 17 as stipulated in the previous version.

Libya: Wartime Prime Minister Jibril takes early lead in Libya vote | Reuters

Wartime rebel prime minister Mahmoud Jibril took an early lead in Libya’s national assembly election, according to partial tallies released on Monday that pointed to a weaker than expected showing for Islamist parties. If confirmed that trend would set Libya apart from other Arab Spring countries such as Egypt and Tunisia where groups with overtly religious agendas have done well – although Jibril insists his multi-party alliance is neither secular nor liberal and includes sharia Islamic law among its core values. Saturday’s poll was the first free national vote in six decades and drew a line under 42 years of rule under former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. International observers said it went well despite violent incidents that killed at least two people. Jibril’s National Forces Alliance (NFA) was heading for landslide victories in the Tripoli suburb of Janzour and the western region towns of Zlitan, Misalata, Tarhouna and Khoms with over three-quarters of votes counted in those areas. In Misrata, Libya’s third city, the Union for the Homeland led by a long-time Gaddafi opponent, was on course to win.

Kenya: Electoral Commission to invite hackers to ‘invade’ its systems |

Do you consider yourself an IT hacker? Then the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will soon be looking for you. In November, the IEBC plans to invite hackers to try tamper with the system that it will use to transmit provisional results. According to IEBC CEO James Oswago, this will help the system attract the confidence of Kenyans ahead of the planned March 4, 2013 General Elections. “We are confident that our system is tamper-proof. However, sometime in November we will invite those who think they can hack into the system to do it. We want Kenyans to have confidence in the system,” Mr Oswago said. According to Mr Oswago, this is one of the lessons that the Commission has learnt from engagement with electoral bodies that use such systems.

Mexico: Elections certain to face challenges in courts | The Washington Post

Mexican leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday he will mount court challenges against the results of the July 1 election, claiming vote-buying and campaign overspending by the winner of official vote counts, Enrique Pena Nieto. The announcement comes amid rising calls to investigate what appears to have been the distribution of thousands of pre-paid gift cards to voters before the election, and allegations by Lopez Obrador’s supporters that some state government officials passed funds to Pena Nieto’s campaign effort. Lopez Obrador finished about 6.6 percentage points behind Pena Nieto of the old guard Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Palestine: Local elections called for October 20 | AFP

The Palestinian government in the West Bank called Tuesday for local elections to be held in the West Bank and Gaza on October 20, the first since 2006, an official said. “The Palestinian government decided today during its meeting to hold the local, municipal and district elections on October 20th throughout the Palestinian territory,” the Palestinian official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The decision followed two such calls for local elections last year, with the Palestinian government in the West Bank seeking to hold the vote first in July 2011 and then in October 2011. It was at first scheduled for July 9, but after a surprise reconciliation deal between the rival Fatah and the Hamas movements, the date was put back to October 22.

United Kingdom: Elections watchdog to review need for voter ID at polling stations |

The Electoral Commission is to review whether voters should produce identification at polling stations amid continued concerns about electoral fraud. It said it was disappointed the government had not conducted its own review. The review was announced as the elections watchdog published its reports on May’s local elections, in which it highlighted voters’ concerns about the potential for fraud. Allegations of fraud in Tower Hamlets, east London, are under investigation by the Metropolitan police. Post-election polling found that about a third of voters felt that fraud had taken place in the 3 May elections, at least “a little”. The government is introducing individual electoral registration to tighten up the voting process, but the commission said it would see whether further changes were necessary.