The Voting News Daily: Senate Republicans block Democratic bill to require disclosure of large political donors, Suppressing the vote, state by state

National: Senate Republicans block Democratic bill to require disclosure of large political donors | The Washington Post Senate Republicans blocked Democratic-backed legislation requiring organizations pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into campaign ads to disclose their top donors and the amounts they spend. GOP opposition prevented Democrats from getting the 60 votes needed to bring what…

Editorials: Suppressing the vote, state by state |

Twelve years after disputes about hanging chads and butterfly ballots cast doubt on the credibility of the outcome of a presidential election, the integrity of the election process again has become a partisan issue. If the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney is a close one, look for the losing side to blame the outcome on either fraud or voter suppression. At this point the latter looks to be the bigger problem. Precipitating this debate is a spate of new state laws requiring photo IDs at polling places. Not content to mount legal challenges to such controversial laws, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. has taken to the hustings to denounce them, arguing that they disproportionately suppress the votes of minorities, the poor and the elderly. Departing from his prepared remarks in a speech to the NAACP last week, Holder compared photo ID requirements to the notorious poll taxes of the Jim Crow era, which were used to prevent blacks from voting until they were finally abolished in federal elections by the 24th Amendment. Republicans who have been the principal advocates of photo ID laws insist that they are simply trying to prevent election fraud.

Editorials: Not Again! How Our Voting System Is Ripe For Theft and Meltdown in 2012 | AlterNet

The most fundamental of democratic processes has become more barrier-filled and error-prone than at anytime since Florida’s 2000 election, when voter list purges, flawed voting technology and a partisan U.S. Supreme Court majority ended a statewide recount and installed George W. Bush as president. This fall’s potential problems begin with a new generation of voter suppression laws and aging voting machines in a handful of presidential battleground states. And other important factors are in play, such as election officials curtailing voting options due to fiscal constraints, the increasing age of poll workers—volunteers averaging in their 70s—who must referee an ever more complex process, and the likelihood that close races will end up in post-Election Day legal fights. Voters tell academics they want consistency in voting. Yet emerging trends are poised to upend that hope in many states. This year’s big questions are: where will the meltdown—or meltdowns—occur, what will go wrong, on what scale, and, when it comes to computer failures or tampering, will we even know about it?

Editorials: The Power of Anonymity |

Two years ago, Congress came within a single Republican vote in the Senate of following the Supreme Court’s advice to require broad disclosure of campaign finance donors. The justices wanted voters to be able to decide for themselves “whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.” The court advised such disclosure in its otherwise disastrous Citizens United decision in 2010, which loosed a new wave of unlimited spending on political campaigns. The decision’s anticorruption prescription has grown even more compelling as hundreds of millions of dollars in disguise have flooded the 2012 campaigns — a great deal of it washed through organizations that are set up for the particular purpose of hiding the names of the writers of enormous checks. The ability to follow the money has never been this important since the bagman days of the Watergate scandal. But when the Democratic Senate majority made a fresh attempt to enact a disclosure bill on Monday, the measure was immediately filibustered to death by Republicans, like other versions.

National: As DISCLOSE Act stalls, Super PAC reserves $6 million in ad time for House races | The Washington Post

One Republican group has reserved $6 million in television advertising time for the fall election season to help more than a dozen House GOP candidates, and about half the money will come from the nonprofit side of the organization that is not required to disclose its donors. The Congressional Leadership Fund and its nonprofit affiliate, the American Action Network, reserved the ad time in seven key media markets — which will also be likely battlegrounds for the presidential race — as a down payment for what is expected to be a much larger fall campaign to promote House Republicans. The move comes as congressional Democrats step up their criticism of nonprofit groups that shield their donors and that are playing an increasingly prominent role in House and Senate races. On Monday evening, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a Democratic bill that would require those nonprofits to disclose the donors of every contribution of at least $10,000 that is used for political purposes. The DISCLOSE Act, as the proposal is known, failed on a vote of 51 to 44, falling short of the 60 votes needed to proceed to a full debate.

Alaska: New Problem With Last April’s Municipal Election in Anchorage | KTUU

Nearly 14 weeks after the April Municipal Elections in Anchorage, yet another shoe has dropped in connection with that flawed election day. On Wednesday of this week, 141 sample ballots were discovered in a vault in Anchorage City Hall. As of publication, no one knows if those votes were counted in the election. In a way, the matter is academic. 141 votes will not alter the outcome of any race or ballot-proposition from April 3rd. The closest vote on any matter before the public that day was decided by a margin of at least 3,000 people. But the new revelation does add to the embarrassment of the city. Already, a city clerk — and a deputy city clerk — have lost their jobs over this issue. Today (Saturday) Ernie Hall, the Chairman of the City Assembly, said that preliminary indications are that the latest irregularity may be connected with the confusion of election day.

California: In two Bay Area cities, critics tackle ranked-choice voting | California Watch

In the past 10 years, four California cities have embraced ranked-choice voting, the system of computerized runoff elections that boosters say streamlines and reforms local politics. Almost as soon as the new systems were in place, critics began trying to roll ranked-choice voting back. Opponents are ready to go back at it this week. Tomorrow officials in San Francisco are scheduled to consider measures that would modify the new high-tech voting system. The Oakland City Council was asked to consider a measure tomorrow that would have abolished rank-choice voting entirely in that city. But Mayor Jean Quan blocked it from coming before the council, said Terry Reilly, a former San Jose election official and a ranked-choice voting opponent.  In a ranked-choice election, voters get three weighted choices for each office on the ballot. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the first-choice votes, a computerized “instant runoff” is held to select the winner.

California: Two-thirds of California voters cast ballots by mail | Fresno Bee

Nearly two-thirds of California voters cast their vote by mail in the June election, a record for the state, but fewer than a third of registered voters turned out, Secretary of State Debra Bowen reported Friday. Bowen’s office officially certified the results of the primary election, which was the first time Californians tested two new voter-approved changes: a top-two primary system and new congressional and legislative boundaries drawn for the first time by an independent commission. The new primary system led to a crowded ballot in many races; U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein faced 24 challengers. She faces Republican Elizabeth Emken in November.

Colorado: How secret is your ballot? | Summit County Citizens Voice

A see-saw Colorado legal battle over voter privacy has ended with a win for open-access advocates, who claim that the public’s right to inspect voting results at least equals the right to private voting — as long the ballots can’t be connected to individual voters. The Colorado Supreme Court last week let stand a lower court ruling that gave losing Aspen City Council candidate Marilyn Marks the right to inspect the instant runoff voting information from the 2009 election. While there may not have been as much at stake as in the hotly contested 2000 Gore versus Bush presidential election, Marks cited the inspection of the ballots in Florida as part of her legal arguments in the Aspen case, according to city attorney Jim True. The case was complicated by the fact that the State Legislature changed the with regard to ballot privacy after the election, during the course of the lawsuit. Under the revision, adopted in May, 2012, state lawmakers said they want ballots to be considered open records, viewable by anyone as long as their are privacy safeguards.

Colorado: State Supreme Court declines to rehear city’s appeal in ballot case | Aspen Daily News

The Colorado Supreme Court has declined to rehear the city of Aspen’s appeal of a lower court’s decision that allows public review of voted ballots from the 2009 election. The decision likely ends a years-long legal fight between the city and Aspen resident Marilyn Marks, who sued the municipality and City Clerk Kathryn Koch after Marks’ open records request to review the ballots was denied.

Voting Blogs: Florida Secretary of State Voter Purge Netted 10 “Potential Noncitizens” who may have Voted | electionsmith

That’s right. 10. Out of 11.2 million voters on the official statewide rolls as of April 1, 2012. Here’s some quick analysis… Approximately 0.000088496% of the current statewide voter roll may have voted illegally once (or perhaps more) over the past decade or so. The percentage is even less when you consider the tens of MILLIONS of votes cast in local and statewide elections in Florida since 2006. Notwithstanding the hundreds of Florida citizens who have been falsely accused by the Florida Secretary of State as being “potential noncitizens” who are corrupting the integrity of our voting system, it’s great to see that Governor Scott has exposed the myth of voter fraud in Florida. Or not.

Guam: $74K debt to ES&S holds up ballots: Election commission seeks supplemental funding | Pacific Daily News

The Guam Election Commission doesn’t have enough ballot stock for the primary election, and a vendor has cut off the government’s supply because of an outstanding debt. A debt of about $74,000 from the 2008 election is owed to Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software, and the company won’t sell the government of Guam any more ballot stock until the debt is cleared, said Election Commission Executive Director Maria Pangelinan.

Kansas: Mental health facility residents still without voter IDs |

For months during this past legislative session, nearly every debate about new voter ID laws included Westview Manor, a nursing home for people with mental health issues in Peabody. The facility’s executive director, Bonita Robertson-Boydston, testified in February that of her 51 residents, only nine had an ID and she worried that many wouldn’t be able to vote in the 2012 elections. From then on, her facility was cited frequently by Rep. Bob Brookens, R-Marion, who represented Westview’s residents and Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, an outspoken opponent of the voter ID and proof-of-citizenship laws pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach. But last month, Westview Manor quietly had its voter ID problems solved.

Ohio: Secretary of State Husted decides against extended hours for in-person absentee voting |

Early-voting hours in Cuyahoga County for the November presidential election will be more restrictive than for the March primary after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted decided not to allow weekend voting. Husted announced his tie-breaking vote Friday, two days after the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections deadlocked along party lines on whether to open board offices on the last two Saturdays and Sundays in October for voting. Husted did not wait for the board members to submit written proposals regarding their views, which is the usual procedure following a tie vote. A representative from Husted’s office was present at the elections board meeting Wednesday night and heard both sides of the issue, said spokesman Matt McClellan. Based on that, Husted was able to make a decision, McClellan said. McClellan added that when Husted had training sessions for board of elections officials in June he made it clear that while extending hours for in-person early voting was a local decision, he would vote against it if there were tie votes.

Tennessee: Challenge of Voter ID Law Comes Into Focus | Memphis Daily News

The way to a court challenge of Tennessee’s voter identification law from Memphis takes a few twists and turns away from the polling place. And while Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. as well as several attorneys outside City Hall say they are ready to make the challenge, it will depend on who is willing to not have their vote counted in the Aug. 2 elections after they present a Memphis library card as photo ID to election officials. That could depend on how close the three countywide general election contests on the ballot turn out to be. Wharton and City Attorney Herman Morris have taken the position in a 33-page legal opinion Morris issued in January that the photo library cards the city began issuing last month meet the requirements for a valid state-issued ID card for voting purposes. Finding the right plaintiff will depend on what happens during the two days after a provisional ballot is cast.

Lithuania: Consultative vote to be held on nuclear plant | Reuters

Lithuania will hold a non-binding referendum on the centre-right government’s planned new nuclear power plant on the same day as a parliamentary election, in a move that could boost support for the opposition and derail the project with a big vote against. Parliament’s decision on Monday to hold the vote puts energy issues at the centre of the election, with the opposition and government split on how to reduce country’s energy dependence on its former Soviet master, Russia. Polls have showed public support for nuclear energy in Lithuania wane following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 in Japan, with opinion now roughly divided.

Mexico: Lopez Obrador challenges election result | BBC

The runner-up in Mexico’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has filed a legal challenge to the result of the 1 July vote. He said he would prove that illicit money was used to buy votes and secure the victory of centrist candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, who denies this. Mr Lopez Obrador wants the result of the vote to be deemed invalid. Mr Pena Nieto was confirmed the winner on Friday after a final recount, with 38.21% to Mr Lopez Obrador’s 31.59%. Mr Lopez Obrador, from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), lodged the challenge to Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) just hours before the midnight filing deadline. “The purchase and manipulation of millions of votes cannot give certainty to any result nor to the overall electoral process,” he told reporters.

Mongolia: Rivals join forces to govern | Financial Times

Two bitter political rivals in Mongolia have joined forces to form a coalition government that will rule the resource-rich nation for the next four years. The centre-left Democratic party, which won the recent election but fell short of an outright majority in parliament, agreed to form a coalition that includes the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary party, a breakaway party headed by Nambaryn Enkhbayar, the former head of state who is facing trial for corruption. Mongolia’s $10bn economy is one of the fastest-growing in the world and it sits atop vast reserves of copper, coal and gold. Many of those deposits are just starting to be developed, and the government that sits in power for the next four years will play a key role in shaping the direction of mining policies and the development of natural resources that are coveted by Mongolia’s larger neighbours, Russia and China.