The cries for changing the Federal Election Commission from some editorial boards and campaign finance lobbyists overlook the obvious dangers of an unchecked federal agency regulating the political involvement of citizens. When Congress created the FEC, it did not design an agency that could be wielded as a partisan weapon; instead, the agency is required to be equally divided, with, at most, three of its six members from the same party. Thus, the FEC is designed to ensure fair and impartial regulation and administration of campaign finance laws — not partisan or ideological witch hunts.
In a joint op/ed Wednesday, the three Republican members of the Federal Election Commission blasted campaign finance reformers and good-government groups for proposing changes to the impotent agency, defending themselves as “fair and impartial” regulators and administrators of campaign finance laws. But this same trio has been responsible for historic deadlock at the Commission and has openly refused to follow the campaign rules enacted by Congress. FEC Commissioners Caroline Hunter, Donald McGahn II, and Matthew Petersen, all three of whom continue to serve though their terms have expired, wrote that “The agency’s harshest critics disregard the agency’s prime enforcement directive: Enforce the law as it is, not as some wish it to be.”
California: Canada backs off from Internet voting, for now, while California legislature pushes it forward | FierceGovernmentIT
The Canadian agency charged with conducting national elections has decided against a planned pilot of Internet electoral voting before the 2015 general election due to budget cuts, Canadian media has reported. A report from the agency, Elections Canada, says that it hasn’t ruled out Internet voting, however, and that it “will continue to monitor such trials and developments in other jurisdictions to evaluate the feasibility of undertaking an I-voting project.” The California Assembly, meanwhile, is pressing forward with the possibility of Internet voting, with the Elections Committee approving on April 30 in a 4-3 vote a bill (AB 19) sponsored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that would establish an Internet voting pilot program.
The Senate on Thursday backed sweeping elections reform legislation that has polarized the legislature, resulting in marathon debate that kicked off Tuesday when Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, moved for the entire 126 pages to be read at length. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed House Bill 1303 by a party-line vote of 20-15, despite the stall tactic. Amendments were later approved by the House, which sent the bill to Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, for his signature. Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, and House Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst of Boulder and Assistant Majority Leader Dan Pabon of Denver sponsored the measure. Senate Reading Clerk Max Majors on Tuesday during second reading read the bill for about two and a half hours, with help from staff. Long-time Capitol observers could not remember another time when such a long bill was read at length. During the redistricting debate of 2003, the reading clerk was asked to read Senate Bill 352, but the measure was only 20 pages. Republicans, who debated the bill on Tuesday into Wednesday morning for nearly seven hours, view its passage as a power grab. One by one they took to the well, drawing out debate on the measure, while Democrats mostly sat at their desks, choosing not to speak during the Republican filibuster.
The governor is expected to sign a measure into law that would redefine how elections in Colorado are run, allowing same-day voter registration and having ballots mailed to all registered voters. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign the Democrat-sponsored bill Friday, according to two people working closely with the measure. They asked to remain anonymous because an official announcement had not been made. The bill passed with unanimous support from Democrats, but not a single Republican voted for it, citing concerns about voter fraud with same-day registration. Republicans also argued the measure would be a game-changer for future elections, and some called the measure the most important of the session that was packed with contentious legislation.
It hasn’t gotten the national attention it deserves, but a sweeping measure to overhaul elections in Colorado is swiftly moving towards passage — one that could function as a model for other voting reformers in other states, and perhaps even nationally. The Colorado measure will represent a big step forward, because it sticks to the most fundamental principle that most reformers think should guide our efforts to fix voting: That voting should be made easier for as many people as possible. This, at a time when conservative groups are working to restrict voting in the name of “voter fraud.” As Reid Wilson recently put it, the Colorado measure is “the Democratic comeback to voter ID.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will sign legislation to give Connecticut voters the chance to expand the use of absentee ballots. The bill, which passed the Senate late Wednesday and heads to his desk, will create a ballot question for next year’s statewide election, asking voters whether they want to change the state Constitution and allow the General Assembly to expand early voting opportunities. One of the measures planned by lawmakers is so-called no-excuse absentee ballots. Illness, age and out-of-town business are the main reasons for issuing absentee ballots, in provisions that date back 80 years.
Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux is tickled that the Florida Legislature voted this year to give him and his peers across the state flexibility in establishing early voting hours. He’s also flabbergasted it took a decade to do so. “I’m very pleased, finally. We’ve only been asking for flexibility for about the last 10 years,” Lux said. Two years ago, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that cut the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, a move that led to long lines and waits at polling places in many areas.
Local lawmakers and prosecutors share concern over pending legislation that if passed, would give Secretary of State Kris Kobach the power to prosecute election fraud cases. Different versions of the bill containing Kobach’s proposal already have been approved by the House and Senate, and there is speculation the final bill will be passed by the Legislature by the end of this week. State Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, said he is completely against it. “I voted against it in committee. I voted against it every step along the way,” Jennings said.
Minnesota: State could conduct pilot of electronic voter registration system under omnibus elections bill passed by House | Twin Cities Daily Planet
A trial run of electronic rosters included in the omnibus elections bill could be the first step toward a new voter registration verification system. Passed by the House 74-60 Wednesday, HF894, sponsored by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-Hopkins), includes other election reforms that would allow residents to vote absentee without an excuse and reduce the number of individuals someone can vouch for as a valid resident on Election Day from 15 to eight. The bill now moves to the Senate where Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport) is the sponsor. “This bill moves Minnesota closer to joining the majority of other states which already offer their voters the increasingly exercised option of voting absentee without needing to provide an excuse,” Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said in a statement.
Calling the proposal “hasty, counterproductive and less reliable,” Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed a bill that would have let residents vote at their polling place starting 15 days before Election Day. The move was instantly criticized by Democrats who accused the Republican governor of trying to stifle the vote. Under the bill (S2364), voters could have cast ballots in person at their polling places until the Sunday before the primary or general election. Voters can currently cast a “mail-in-ballot” by mailing or hand-delivering a competed ballot to their county clerk starting 45 days before the election, Christie said in his two-page veto message.
The New York State Senate have passed two bills that would allow for the use of lever-style voting machines in non-federal elections in New York City, and in elections held by villages, school districts and special districts. Legislation (S4088B), sponsored by Senator Martin Golden, would allow New York City to use lever voting machines for all non-federal elections, including the upcoming primary, run-off and general elections this fall. In addition, the bill would to move the date for a potential run-off election in New York City from September 24th to October 1st to avoid a conflict with the Jewish holiday Sukkot.
New York City could soon become the first major city in the country to give non-citizens the right to vote. The proposal, which would allow certain non-citizens to vote in local elections, appears to have a veto-proof majority in the New York City Council — enough to overcome opposition by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As hearings on the proposal get underway Thursday, supporters are optimistic it will become law by the end of the year and believe it will have an impact beyond the five boroughs. “It’s going to be huge and just imagine the implications that are involved here,” Councilman Daniel Dromm, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation along with Councilwoman Gale Brewer, told TPM Wednesday.
The Ohio Senate moved what was thought to be a fairly noncontroversial election bill yesterday, but it drew Democratic opposition for what some argued was a failure to fully address an issue that leads to some votes being tossed out. The bill was described as general clean-up provisions that include increasing flexibility for county elections boards, notifying candidates who have identical names, and allowing county elections boards to send certain documents to the secretary of state electronically. Senate Bill 109 also makes it clear that if a person casting an absentee or provisional ballot double votes by filling in the name of the candidate and also writing in the same candidate, the vote will be counted.
Oregon’s chief elections official wants almost everyone with a driver’s license to be automatically registered to vote. The plan, proposed by Democratic Secretary of State Kate Brown, would significantly redesign Oregon’s voter-registration practices and potentially add hundreds of thousands of newly registered voters to the state. Combined with Oregon’s all-mail elections, the bill would mean that most adult state residents would automatically get a ballot in their mailbox. Republicans have reacted with caution, saying they’re concerned about the potential for fraud. The House Rules Committee heard public testimony on Brown’s proposal Wednesday but did not decide whether to advance it.
Oregon: Secretary of State tweaks universal registration bill in search of more support | OregonLive
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown on Wednesday pitched legislators on a new version of her ambitious plan to automatically register hundreds of thousands of potential voters in the state. Brown said she has agreed to changes to address privacy concerns, as well as worries from minor political parties faced with rapidly increasing their numbers to keep their ballot status. Brown’s changes, now embodied in House Bill 3521, didn’t satisfy Republicans, several of whom showed up to testify against the measure. However, the Democratic secretary of state did get backing from several groups that seek to increase voter registration, such as the Oregon League of Women Voters and Common Cause Oregon.
Richland County should refuse to pay for the hours charged by a lawyer who helped negotiate a new county job for demoted elections director Lillian McBride, some on County Council said Wednesday. Others said Richland County has no obligation to cover any of the legal bills — more than $153,000 — for investigating what went wrong during Nov. 6 balloting and defending the election results in court. Councilman Seth Rose objected to the legal department’s request for the money, saying he’s frustrated the county had to boost funding for the elections office last year even though county officials have no hand in supervising its performance. That job goes to local legislators, who also set the funding. Ultimately, council members deferred action.
Mass protests in Bulgaria against austerity measures and energy costs forced out the government in February. Elections set for Sunday could lead to more political turmoil. Recent public-opinion surveys indicate that the conservative party that led the previous administration and its main, left-leaning challenger are running neck-and-neck, complicating prospects for the formation of a governing coalition. Unhappiness with low living standards and perceived corruption in the European Union’s poorest member state boiled over this past winter, leading to nationwide demonstrations, initially over rising electricity prices.
The opposition party in the Republic of Guinea has said that is has agreed to suspend several days of protest over delayed legislative elections for the United Nations-mediate talks which will aim at ending the political deadlock regarding legislative elections in the country. Officials said last week that at least 20 people have been killed and more than 300 others wounded in clashes since March between opposition supporters, security forces and President Alpha Conde’s supporters in the capital Conakry. The opposition has accused President Alpha Conde of trying to manipulate the election process for his party to win the majority in parliament but the government has strongly denied the allegation.
The Election Commission (EC) has clarified that besides the standard ‘X’, check marks and dots are also acceptable on ballot papers. EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said any mark is acceptable as long as it was made within a candidate’s column. “Words are not acceptable, but a dot, tick or any other mark that can be constituted as having the intention of choosing a candidate is valid,” he told Bernama here. “In our guideline, we stated that any mark is accepted and not just an X providing it is not made in all columns,” he said on the 332,297 spoiled ballots in the 13th general election last Sunday compared to 324,120 in 2008.
This year’s general elections in Pakistan will be remembered for two things: the determination of the people of Pakistan to see them through and the equal determination of the men of violence to prevent them. As Pakistanis prepare to go to the polls on May 11, there is much nervousness and hope for its outcome, potentially the first successful democratic transition between two popularly elected governments in Pakistan’s history. What my experience as a district officer has taught me, however, is that there is nothing more dangerous than changing horses in mid-stream. National elections have proven in the past to lead to the collapse of law and order and the imposition of martial law. With the promise of the current elections, this is a cycle that appears to be broken, but we should be aware of its dangers.