Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said a member of his party has admitted to manipulating e-votes in the Reform Party’s leadership election last week and in another election in 2011. “The party secretary has a specific individual’s explanation in written form in which the individual admits to having committed the acts at hand. And the individual has suggested that he or she did this at the request and knowing of someone else,” Ansip told ERR radio, without revealing any names as the investigation is still in progress.
As the report of the IRS Inspector General shows, the agency’s scrutiny of conservative groups applying for non-profit status was, more than anything, a clumsy response to a task the IRS is ill-equipped to carry out – monitoring an accidental corner of campaign finance law, a corner that was relatively quiet until about 2010. That corner is the 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, belonging to what are sometimes called “social welfare” groups, which enjoy the triple privilege of tax exemption (though not for their donors), freedom to engage in some limited election activity, and, unlike other political committees (PACs, SuperPACs, parties, etc.), freedom from any requirement to disclose information about donors or spending. The use of (c)(4)s as campaign vehicles didn’t originate with the Citizens United decision in 2010 (Citizens United, the organization that brought the case, was already a (c)(4)), but the decision seems to have created a sense that the rules had changed, and even small groups – especially, apparently, local Tea Party organizations — rushed to create (c)(4)s.
Online voter registration is a concept that has only recently been made available to U.S. citizens. At the moment, most states don’t have a system set up for it. However, that could change in the near future, if current trends are any indication. Unfortunately, there are a few issues that currently keep it from being used nationwide.For starters, when President Obama was first elected in 2008, only two states — Washington and Arizona — had online voter registration systems. In 2012, when he was reelected, 13 states had these systems. Now, a total of 23 states have or are about to have what is called “voter registration modernization.” Many believe that most states will enact online voter registration — sooner rather than later — now that word of the many advantages is spreading.
Before the current U.S. Supreme Court term ends in late June, the justices will decide the fate of the most potent part of a law widely considered the most important piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress ― the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If the court were to strike down part of the law, which it has signaled a willingness to do in the past, it would dramatically reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voter discrimination in a wide swath of the nation. The U.S. Supreme Court prepares to enter June with the term’s biggest cases yet to be decided. NBC’s Pete Williams looks at what’s left on the docket. Signed by President Lyndon Johnson and renewed by Congress four times since then, most recently in 2006, a key provision requires states with a history of discrimination at the polls to get federal permission before making adjustments to their election procedures.
Outrage first, facts later. That’s often the way American political “scandals” unfold, and it seems to be the case with the news that the IRS targeted conservative political groups for extra scrutiny before granting them tax-exempt status as social-welfare organizations. We knew from the beginning of the IRS mess that the only group actually denied tax-exempt status was the Maine chapter of a Democratic women’s group, Emerge America. Now we’re learning about some of the right-wing organizations that came in for extra scrutiny, as reported by the New York Times Monday: a conservative veterans’ group that only backed one candidate, a Republican, for Congress; an Alabama Tea Party group that took part in a “defeat Barack Obama” voter-turnout drive, and the “Ohio Liberty Coalition” led by a Republican activist who sent his members information on Mitt Romney campaign events and recruited them to volunteer for the GOP nominee.
Voting Blogs: Vote centers turn 10 – a decade later, jurisdictions slowly joining movement | electionlineWeekly
A decade ago, Larimer County, Colo. Clerk Scott Doyle was looking for a way to deal with many of the changes mandated by the Help America Vote Act. Working with the county’s elections department and practices already in place for early voting, Doyle and company created the concept of vote centers to use in all elections. Now, although Doyle has recently retired, his idea of consolidating voting precincts into a small number of come-one, come-all polling places is spreading to more and more counties across the country. “The success of vote centers is largely due to their attractiveness to voters who might not otherwise vote,” said Robert Stein, political science professor at Rice University who has studied vote centers. “They afford inexperienced votes many of the benefits in-person early voting offers, in those states that allow voters to ballot before Election Day. “ Counties making the move to vote centers cite a variety of reasons for making the switch, but the biggest factor of all seems to be cost savings.
As the Alaska Redistricting Board sits mostly idle despite a December 2012 state Supreme Court decision that ordered all 40 voting districts to be redrawn, a Fairbanks Superior Court judge Thursday offered up a verbal smackdown to the board, chastising the inaction and ordering public hearings related to the next redrawing process. “Alaskans are no closer to having constitutional voting districts today” than they were in December, said Superior Court judge Michael McConahy. Every 10 years, Alaska’s voting lines are ordered to be redrawn according to the latest U.S. Census data. In Alaska, not only are there state requirements to be met, but any redistricting plan must also appease the federal Voting Rights Act. Alaska is among several states requiring Department of Justice confirmation that minority groups aren’t subject to discrimination by proposed voting changes.
At a time when 500,000 eligible Illinoisans aren’t registered to vote, and voter turnout is at staggeringly low levels, the Illinois Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would make online voter registration an option in the state. The bill, HB 2418, would make it possible by July 1, 2014 for residents to register to vote through the Illinois State Board of Elections’ website. After entering drivers’ license information and the last four digits of a Social Security number, potential voters would be mailed a voter registration card. The card would need to be presented at a polling place during voting. “We’re taking a bold step into the electronic world,” State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), the bill’s primary sponsor in the Senate, said during the legislation’s debate. “This really is a key to getting young people involved in the process.”
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) nudged Virginia into the 21st century Wednesday by decreeing a new system to restore voting rights automatically to nonviolent felons who have paid their debt to society. The governor’s move is courageous and consequential: In time — more time than many would like — it should enfranchise tens of thousands of ex-convicts, most of whom would otherwise be frozen out of elections indefinitely. Mr. McDonnell’s move does not solve the entire problem. It excludes those convicted of violent felonies, including some drug crimes. At least 40 percent of the estimated 300,000 to 400,000 felons, plus several thousand released from prison each year, will remain ineligible to vote unless they undergo a lengthy waiting period and submit a complex application. In practice, few do so.
West Virginia: Funding an issue for Supreme Court candidate public financing; program to have $1.5M balance | Associated Press
Pleased that a public financing experiment for Supreme Court candidates is now a permanent program, West Virginia’s State Election Commission also noted Thursday that it will only have an estimated $1.5 million to offer when a court seat is next on the ballot in 2016. The commission voted to approve proposed revisions to the program’s rules, following passage of legislation expanding what had been a one-election pilot. But commission members were also mindful that the recently concluded session did not include additional funding or revenue sources for the program. Lawmakers instead took $1.5 million from the program’s balance, after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin requested it for other budgetary needs. That leaves $1.1 million, while the state treasurer is scheduled to provide an additional $400,000 by July 2015, Timothy Leach, a lawyer for Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, said during Thursday’s meeting.
A Wisconsin appeals court on Thursday ruled the state’s controversial voter ID law is constitutional, a victory for supporters who say the measure limits fraud at the ballot box. The Fourth District Court of Appeals overturned a March 2012 decision by Dane County judge Richard Niess, who ruled in favor of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, which claimed that the law is too burdensome, denying potential voters the right to vote. The organization “makes no effective argument that, on its face, the requirement makes voting so difficult and inconvenient as to amount to a denial of the right to vote,” the appeals court wrote in its decision.
Guinea: President decrees start of campaign for contested legislative election | The Washington Post
Guinea’s president unilaterally decreed Wednesday the start of campaigning for a contested legislative election, which has been repeatedly delayed due to opposition complaints. The surprise move is bound to further heighten tensions between the ruling party and the country’s increasingly united opposition. In the decree read on national television on the evening news, President Alpha Conde announced that campaigning will begin at midnight and would end at the same time on June 28. The move hass taken the nation by surprise, and comes as the country’s opposition leaders on Wednesday led a motorized funeral procession to put to rest six of the 12 opposition members who were killed during last week’s protest against the planned poll.
The main function of elections in democracies is to enable the exercise of the people’s authority over the power of the state by establishing a government to implement policies which the public has voted for. Iran’s government, however, is bound by a constitution which states that a “supreme leader” has ultimate power over all branches of state and government. Elections of such a government, in effect, legitimize a regime which deprives people of their right to determine the state in which they live. In fact, what appears to be the “election” in Iran is only the shell of a political form; a remnant of the early years of the revolution and the first draft of the country’s constitution in which the sole source of legitimacy for any government was to be the people’s vote. But due to a power struggle between democratic and dictatorial interests, the constitution was rewritten to enshrine two competing sources of legitimacy: the people’s vote and the Velayat-e Faqih (the rule of the jurist or supreme leader). At the time, the position of supreme leader was filled by the undisputed leadership of Ayatollah Rohollah Khomeini. Eventually, this constant tension between the two sources of legitimacy led Khomeini, at the end of his life, to tilt the balance of power further towards the supreme leader, thereby increasing his role in the constitution from a mainly observatory status to one of absolute power. The preservation of the regime became an ultimate and absolute duty, thus justifying virtually any act towards this end.
All the printers used to produce voter cards in Mozambique’s current voter registration are being replaced, after massive problems with the existing printers, says Mozambican news agency, AIM. Citing reports on Thursday’s issue of the “Mozambique Political Process Bulletin”, produced by AWEPA (Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa) and CIP (Centre for Public Integrity), AIM said across the country there have been problems with the computers and printers used in registration and, perhaps most embarrassing of all, some of the registration brigades have not even had toner for their printers. These problems meant that, in the largest province, Nampula, half the registration posts were not open on Wednesday.
President Benigno Aquino III has signed into law a consolidated bill amending the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003, allowing more overseas Filipinos worldwide to cast their votes in Philippine elections. The Chief Executive signed last May 27 the Republic Act 10590 (An Act Amending Republic Act 9189, Entitled “An Act Providing for a System of Overseas Absentee Voting by Qualified Citizens of the Philippines Abroad, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes.”) The Act otherwise known as “The Overseas Voting Act of 2013” is a consolidation of Senate Bill 3312 and House Bill 6542. The Senate and the House of Representatives passed the consolidated measure on February 5, 2013 and February 6, 2013, respectively.
Voteer registration, now a standing cabinet agenda item, once again dominated the government policy-making body meeting this week, resulting in Justice Minister Patrick Chinamsa, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Rita Makarau, and Registrar General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede being instructed to meet to deal with the issue threatening to throw the electoral process into chaos. Chinamasa, Mudede and Makarau were expected to meet yesterday to find ways of smoothening voter registration which is increasingly becoming a contentious issue ahead of crucial general elections. The meeting was expected to take stock of all the problems which affected the mobile voter registration exercise, discuss ways of how “aliens” will get documents to enable them to register as voters as provided for by the new constitution and look at plans to establish schools as registration centres where headmasters will become commissioners of oath to allow all Zimbabweans to be able to register.