National: Republicans push for electoral college changes |

Republicans in Virginia and a handful of other battleground states are pushing for far-reaching changes to the electoral college in an attempt to thwart recent success by Democrats. In the vast majority of states, the presidential candidate who wins receives all of that state’s electoral votes. The proposed changes would instead apportion electoral votes by congressional district, a setup far more favorable to Republicans. Under such a system in Virginia, for instance, President Barack Obama would have claimed four of the state’s 13 electoral votes in the 2012 election, rather than all of them. Other states considering similar changes include Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which share a common dynamic with Virginia: They went for Obama in the past two elections but are controlled by Republicans at the state level.

Editorials: Republican plans for Electoral College reform: Democrats shouldn’t worry about the GOP’s ideas for changing voting rules in Virginia, Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania | Slate Magazine

Sound the alarm! Democrats are on high alert! Josh Marshall calls it a big, big deal. Eric Kleefeld says if the blueprint were in place last November, the GOP would have “stolen 2012 for Mitt Romney.” Steve Benen of the Maddow Blog calls it a “democracy-crushing scheme” showing that “the will of the voters and the consent of the governed are now antiquated concepts that Republicans no longer value.” They’re all talking about potential plans to change the method for electing the president in states like Virginia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania—states that have Republican legislatures and governors but voted for Obama in 2012. Instead of awarding all of the state’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate getting the most votes in each of these states, under the proposed plans most of the Electoral College votes would be awarded to the winner in each congressional district—and thanks to Republican gerrymandering of those districts, such a scheme would be a windfall for Republicans. This plan would be deeply concerning if Republicans were really going to enact it. But the same self-interest that is leading Republicans to consider this move is also going to lead most of them to abandon it almost everywhere. The Great Democratic Freak-out is unjustified. But it is not without its usefulness, because it reminds wavering Republicans what they will face if they go down the road of unilateral Electoral College reform.

Editorials: The long past and perilous future of gaming the Electoral College system | The Week

Following another bitter presidential loss, Republicans in several states are pushing for rule changes that would boost their odds in future races — essentially, switching the Electoral College allocation method in Democratic-leaning swing states from the current winner-take-all system to one that would help Republicans capture at least some electoral votes in those battlegrounds. In the short run, of course, such changes would probably help Republicans siphon off electoral votes in states like Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. But these rule changes would also make a mockery of the concept of fair elections, and harm the twin Republican principles of conservativism and federalism. Currently, all but two states award Electoral College votes using a winner-take-all system (called the Unit Rule). The Unit Rule is not mandatory. Other methods have been used in the past, including having the state legislature hand out the electoral votes however it sees fit. Another popular alternative method, one that is currently used by Maine and Nebraska, is giving one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district.

Louisiana: Judge: Voter registration laws were violated | The Advertiser

A federal judge has ruled that Louisiana public assistance agencies have violated a law requiring them to provide voter registration forms to anyone who requests them, whether online, in person or by mail or phone. U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo issued a permanent injuction Wednesday against the Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Health and Hospitals and Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s office. The injunction gives them until March 15 to implement policies and procedures that bring them into full compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Maryland: O’Malley promotes same-day registering and voting in Maryland | Washington Times

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is proposing legislation this year that would allow residents to register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day, as he looks to join other Democratic-leaning states that are expanding voter access as a counterpoint to voter-identification laws passed in more conservative states. The governor’s proposal would allow residents to register and vote on the same day during early voting, but not on Election Day, and would add Maryland to 12 states and the District which have enacted some form of same-day voter registration. A change is expected to increase voter turnout and is part of a push by many Democrats, including President Obama, to clear what they say are unnecessary roadblocks in the way of potential voters.

Montana: Voter ID Bill Tabled In Committee | Huffington Post

Montana lawmakers dealt a blow to voter identification proponents by effectively killing a bill that would have limited voter ID options. The House State Administration Committee on Friday morning tabled a measure that would restrict acceptable identification cards for voter registration to state driver’s licenses, non-driver ID cards and tribal ID cards. Montana lawmakers currently are grappling with several dozen election-law bills, including one banning same-day voter registration, which the committee approved during Friday morning’s meeting. The decision to table the voter ID bill passed with both Democrats and Republicans voting to kill it.

Editorials: Montana, not California, shows the way on Citizens United | San Jose Mercury News

A fresh breeze of reform is blowing in from the western plains. On Election Day, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock was one of just three nonincumbent Democrats to win election as either governor or U.S. senator in states that went red in the presidential race. Bullock was inaugurated two weeks before this month’s third anniversary of Citizens United. He had led a fight to try to keep the U.S. Supreme Court decision in that case from negating Montana’s strict campaign finance law in state elections. Also on Election Day, 75 percent of Montana voters, Democrats and Republicans, approved Initiative 166 calling for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United and the concept of corporate personhood. Montana was joined that day by Colorado as the first two states to pass public referendums, although nine others, including California, have called for an amendment through resolutions by their legislatures.

North Carolina: Voter ID bound to pass |

The legislature seems poised to once again pass a voter identification bill, legislation that has sharpened partisan lines and sparked heated debate regarding voter fraud and voting rights. The GOP-controlled legislature passed a bill in 2011 requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls, only to have Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue veto it. That won’t be a problem this year, because Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has voiced his support for such a measure. But it is still not clear what form the voter ID bill will take. Earlier this month, House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius and McCrory voiced support for a compromise measure that would allow voters to show forms of identification that don’t include a photo, such as a registration card or other government documents.

South Carolina: Facing higher election costs, Richland County Council chafes |

Richland County Council members, frustrated over paying for an election office beyond their control, want legislators to stop sending them the bills for state-mandated services. Councilman Seth Rose suggested the county refuse to pay for expensive new voting machines, additional staff or renting buildings for Election Day polling places. Councilman Jim Manning said any property-tax increase resulting from state-ordered services should be labeled “the local legislative delegation funding tax.” And Councilman Bill Malinowski said it’s just not fair for the county to “keep sucking it up” when the state Legislature hasn’t been paying its way with the Local Government Fund. Under the state funding formula, Richland County should get $18 million this coming year, but “that’s a pipe dream,” Councilman Greg Pearce said. The turmoil came out as the council discussed upcoming budget issues at an annual retreat Thursday.

Virginia: GOP’s electoral vote scheme likely illegal in Virginia | MSNBC

A scheme under consideration in Virginia to rig the Electoral College in Republicans’ favor could well violate a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, experts on the law say. But that very provision is itself under challenge by the GOP, and could be struck down by the Supreme Court later this year. A Republican bill that would allocate Virginia’s electoral votes based on the popular vote in each congressional district cleared its first hurdle in the state legislature Wednesday. Had the bill been in effect in the last election, Mitt Romney would have won 9 of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, despite losing the popular vote in the state to President Obama by nearly 5 percentage points. Republicans have raised versions of the idea in several other blue states where they currently have state-level control, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. If all four states approved the plan, future GOP presidential candidates would get a major—and anti-democratic—leg up.

Virginia: Redistricting, electoral shuffle, voter ID bills aimed at boosting sagging GOP prospects in Virginia | The Washington Post

Virginia’s not the only electoral battleground with a Republican-ruled legislature where President Barack Obama mopped up last year en route to re-election. But it is the first to act on an ambitious menu of Republican legislation aimed at preventing another Democratic triumph. The result beckons partisan paralysis of the state Senate and a budget stalemate for the second consecutive year and the death of important education and transportation reforms. The long-term consequences, however, are more sobering. First, let’s review. Democrats turned out in huge numbers in Virginia last fall despite the state’s brand new voter identification law, creating waiting lines of four hours or more at some jammed polling places. So this year, Republicans propose even tougher identification standards, including one bill that would compel voters to present photo identification.

Virginia: Governor signals opposition to GOP lawmaker’s Electoral College scheme | The Hill

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will not support a bill that would have reapportioned how his state awards presidential electors, a move that will effectively kill the effort in the state Senate to replace the winner-take-all system currently in place. “The governor does not support this legislation,” McDonnell spokesman J. Tucker Martin said in a statement. “He believes Virginia’s existing system works just fine as it is. He does not believe there is any need for a change.” If the bill were to have succeeded, presidential candidates would have been awarded electoral votes by how they performed in each of the state’s congressional districts, with the winner of the most congressional districts receiving two additional votes. Under such a system, President Obama would have won only four of the state’s 13 electoral votes in the 2012 election, despite winning the state 51-47 percent.

Canada: Airdrie City council tables decision on Internet voting for 2013 election | Airdrie City View

Airdrie City council unanimously voted to table a decision on Internet voting, Jan. 21. The move was made after a presentation, by Sharon Pollyck, Airdrie’s manager of legislative services, and a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of Internet voting in the next election, set to take place this fall. “I am not ready to make a decision this evening,” said Alderman Glenda Alexander. “I look forward to more information.” Pollyck presented council with a number of options for electronic voting, which is being piloted this fall in Alberta and is used worldwide, including using the method only for the advanced vote, discontinuing paper voting all together and doing a mixture of the two.

El Salvador: Citizens Living Abroad Allowed to Vote in Presidential Elections | Fox News

Joining the ranks of countries like Mexico, Venezuela and over 100 countries in the world, El Salvador passed legislation earlier this week allowing citizens living abroad to vote in the country’s presidential elections. With around 1.8 million Salvadorans living in the United States – around one-sixth of the country’s 6 million citizens – the absentee votes could have a huge impact in the country’s upcoming presidential elections where Salvadoran’s next year will elect a successor to President Maurcio Funes.“This is a historic day finally, as a state, we fulfilled the constitutional right for our citizens living abroad,” Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martínez said in a press release of the bi-partisan legislation. “Their voice and vote can be taken into account the political system, from anywhere in the world.”

Jordan: Partial recount demanded as Jordanian election protests continue | Trend.Az

Candidates on Saturday demanded a partial recount in recent Jordanian parliamentary elections, even as protests regarding the contested results rumbled on, DPA reported Hundreds of supporters of defeated candidates rallied in Amman and Mafraq, marking the third straight day of protests over the results of the January 23 polls. Some 56.7 per cent of Jordan’s 3 million eligible voters cast ballots in Wednesday’s polls, which were declared by international observers to be free and fair, with few irregularities. However several candidates cried foul after a late surge in voting tipped the balance in several heated contests and after final election results on Thursday sealed some candidates’ victories with margins in the single digits.

Voting Blogs: 2013 Jordan Post-Election Report: And the winner is…the king | The Monkey Cage

On 23 January 2013, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan held its first parliamentary elections in the context of the “Arab Spring”. Like previous parliaments, the 17th elected Lower House (the Upper House, or Senate, is royally appointed) will consist of an absolute majority of conservative and tribal candidates, providing the “reigning and ruling” King Abdallah II with a solid support base in both chambers. More than 75 % of the 150 parliamentarians can be considered loyalists, while about one fourth (ca. 37 deputies according to some reports) have a more independent and oppositionist outlook. The latter group is, however, very diverse, ranging from individual leftist and liberal secularists to independent Islamists, three of which represent the al-Wasat party, the biggest party in the future legislature. The future Lower House will also have 17 female deputies, two more than the women’s quota of 15 provides.