In filling a vacant Senate seat, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces a significant choice fraught with political implications for his re-election campaign and, perhaps, a future presidential run. Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death Monday presents the state’s popular Republican governor with a series of decisions that carry consequences beyond who will serve as New Jersey’s next U.S. senator. While Republicans and Democrats alike will be watching Christie’s next moves closely, there’s no telling what the governor _ who has staked out a reputation for going his own way _ will do. “I give him praise on a life well-lived,” Christie said of the Democratic senator with whom he frequently tangled. The governor made the comment during an appearance at a women’s conference and then canceled the rest of his public schedule Monday, clearly mindful of the high stakes involved in choosing Lautenberg’s successor.
House Republicans are pressing to kill an independent government commission designed to improve state-level voting procedures, arguing the body has run its course, is ineffectual and is a waste of taxpayer money. The House Administration Committee will meet Tuesday to vote on amendments on a bill to repeal the Election Assistance Commission — created as part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, or HAVA, that was designed to help modernize state-level voting systems in response to Florida’s ballot-counting troubles during the 2000 presidential election. But the commission has been in limbo since late 2010, when it last had a quorum. All four seats currently are vacant. Democrats, who support the agency, say that’s because Republicans have undermined its authority by holding up nominations and repeatedly trying to abolish it.
The new acting IRS chief stressed Monday that he was pressing ahead to fix the problems that allowed the agency to target conservative groups, saying the current controversies had sparked a difficult time at the IRS. Danny Werfel, in his first testimony on Capitol Hill, also stressed that the current controversy shouldn’t be used to tar the entire agency. Werfel, who has been acting commissioner for less than two weeks, told a House Appropriations subcommittee Monday that the singling out of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status was inexcusable. “We have a great deal of work ahead of us to review and correct the serious problems that have occurred at the IRS and continue the important work of the agency on behalf of taxpayers,” Werfel said in prepared remarks for his first congressional appearance in his new role.
Two members of the House of Representatives insist the Constitution doesn’t guarantee you the right to vote—and one leading fact-checking group says they may be correct, on a technicality. Mark Pocan, a representative from Wisconsin, has joined with Keith Ellison from Minnesota to introduce a new constitutional amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives that guarantees everyone 18 years and older the right to vote in elections. The folks at PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize–winning website in Florida, evaluated Pocan’s statement on the House floor that “nothing in the Constitution explicitly guarantees our right to vote.”
Before the end of this month, the Supreme Court is expected to decide Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder, a constitutional challenge to the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, one of the act’s most important guarantees against racial discrimination in voting. Shelby County has argued that the act is unnecessary and outdated and has urged the Supreme Court to hold it unconstitutional on that basis. With the court decision looming, a number of recent commentators have suggested that, in light of recent voter turnout data, the Voting Rights Act is no longer needed. They are wrong. In The Wall Street Journal last month, examining what he called the “good news about race and voting,” Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center argues that in recent presidential elections very few citizens, whatever their race, have reported difficulties going to the polls to exercise their right to vote. Mr. Kohut noted that in the last several presidential elections, African-American turnout has steadily increased. Based on the “good news” from this small slice of evidence, Mr. Kohut suggests that opponents of the Voting Rights Act could argue “the legislation has accomplished its objective of ending racial discrimination in voting and is no longer needed.”
No one questions that campaign finance law has struggled through multiple, agonized revisions in distinguishing issues from campaign speech and the discussion of campaign issues from advocacy for candidates or parties. The statute is little help; it speaks of the “purpose of influencing” an election,” 2 U.S.C. §431(8)(A)(i), and broader Commission glosses on the phrase, such as a test for whether a message was “electioneering” in content, eventually came to grief. The Supreme Court held the express advocacy line briefly, then gave in to a conception of the “functional equivalent” of express advocacy, and has since cast much of discussion into obsolescence by extending to corporations the right to make independent expenditures. Now tax policy-makers and tax law face pressure to work through the same issue, in limiting political intervention by 501(c)(4)s, and the results might be expected to be the same.
Many lawmakers believe counties could benefit by having one office do everything two offices do now when it comes to handling money. Madison County Chairman Dale Strong favors consolidating the tax collector’s and tax assessor’s office. First, a decision must be made about what to do and that will cost you money. Madison County has two offices affecting people’s wallets. One is the Tax Assessor’s. It is the keeper of records. It places value on property. The other is the Tax Collector’s. It gets your money.
Why has Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach taken such an active interest in Alaska’s elections? The Kansan, an adviser to Mitt Romney last year on immigration policies and a national figure in the Republican party’s conservative wing, testified before the Alaska Legislature in support of a voter photo ID bill. He also recommended that Alaska join the “Kansas Project,” a multi-state effort to look for duplicate voter registrations. Alaska Natives say a photo ID rule would be a roadblock to voting in the Bush. A decline in turnout there, with its traditionally heavy Democratic vote, could affect the 2014 reelection hopes of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat running in a Republican-leaning state. One of his potential rivals is Alaska’s top election official, Republican Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Treadwell says he doesn’t support the voter ID bill, but Kobach says Treadwell was instrumental in getting him involved in promoting the Alaska legislation.
Florida: Congressman Joe Garcia: ‘Flawed’ absentee-voting system, ‘reckless abandon’ in politics contributed to ballot scandal | Miami Herald
Congressman Joe Garcia on Saturday attempted to control the damage inflicted on his office a day earlier, when he dismissed his chief of staff for apparently orchestrating a scheme to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee-ballot requests. Meanwhile, Republicans nationwide and closer to home pummeled Garcia, questioning whether the first-term congressman was coming clean on his campaign’s involvement in the ballot scandal. In a news conference held at his West Miami-Dade office Saturday morning, Garcia, a Democrat, maintained that he had no knowledge of the failed plot during last year’s primary election. He said he learned about his campaign’s involvement only the previous afternoon from chief of staff Jeffrey Garcia, who is unrelated to the congressman and has long served as his top political strategist. “I cannot stress how angry I am at these events,” Joe Garcia said Saturday.
The May 21 election in Ada County saw extremely low voter turnout, with only 5.4% of registered voters going to the polls. With low turnout, 7 Investigates looked at how much each vote was “worth” in terms of the cost to the county taxpayers for each vote cast. On the May ballot in Ada County were issues from funding the Eagle City Hall to electing the board of the Greater Auditorium District and Kuna schools. Overall, 9,457 people voted. “I would say the voter turn-out was lower than we anticipated. I thought it would be below 10% for this election because it was still a very small district election, but I thought it would be much closer to that 10% mark as opposed to down to 5% where we actually ended up,” Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane said.
A group of citizens has uncovered almost 100 people in Hamilton County who are allegedly registered to vote someplace other than where they live – which is illegal. Election records showtwo-thirds of them actually voted from those addresses, meaning they could have cast a vote in a local election in which they weren’t entitled to have a say. Did they commit a crime? Ohio law says people must reside at the address where they’re registered. That’s because people vote on local issues – councils, commissioners, levies. The Hamilton County Board of Elections today will discuss what to do about these cases. It could send those cases to the prosecutor for further investigation and even possible felony charges.
Pennsylvania: High court refuses to hear Post-Gazette appeal – Pennsylvania can continue to restrict poll access | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Journalists have no right to report and photograph inside Pennsylvania polling places, and the U.S. Supreme Court is letting that state restriction stand. Without comment, the court Monday refused to hear a case brought on appeal by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when its staffers were barred from voting sites in Allegheny and Beaver counties in the fall. State law bars anyone except voters, election workers and registered poll watchers from coming within 10 feet of entrances to polling places on Election Day. The denial means the Pennsylvania law can stay in effect unless the Legislature decides to change it.
Weekend absentee voting would end and voter identification requirements would return under a sweeping new election law package partially inspired by issues in Racine. The bill from Greendale Republican Rep. Jeff Stone covers a wide swath of election-related territory, including numerous procedural changes for how electoral recounts are run. Those changes are partially the product of last summer’s recall recount in Racine, where tensions ran high and allegations of election fraud repeatedly surfaced, according to Stone’s office. Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said his office helped shape the final bill, bringing together what he called “a bunch of different ideas regarding elections to make them hopefully easier and more fair.” The result is the wide-ranging proposal planned for committee debate Tuesday.
France’s first electronic election has turned into a farce with reports coming in of the sort of election rigging that you would expect from third world countries like Afghanistan, Zimbabwe or the USA. An “online-primary” claimed as “fraud-proof” and as “ultra secure” as the Maginot Line, has turned out to be vulnerable to a Blizkrieg of multiple and fake voting. The election was supposed to anoint a rising star of the moderate right, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, 39, as the party’s candidate in the election for mayor of Paris next spring. Some of her problems was that she abstained in the final parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage in late April and hard-right figures within the party urged militant opponents of gay marriage to swamp the open primary with votes for a young Paris city councillor, Pierre-Yves Bournazel. So it was going to be a tight election, and then journalists from Metronews proved that it was easy to breach the allegedly strict security of the election. They voted several times using different names to prove their point.
Chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) has told the Supreme Court in the ongoing election petition that the serial numbers embossed on electoral record papers (pink sheets) are irrelevant, and therefore, bear no significance to declared election results. The petitioners had claimed in their pleadings that duplication of serial numbers on pink sheets was one of the vehicles used by the president and the governing National Democratic Congress in collusion with the Electoral Commission to rig the 2012 elections. However, Dr. Afari-Gyan, on Monday, June 3, 2013 told the court during his evidence-in-chief that the serial numbers on the pink sheets have “absolutely no relevance to the compilation and declaration of results”. He maintained that “the pink sheets are distributed randomly”.
Authorities in Iran have imposed a six-month ban on a newspaper linked to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country’s president, as tensions rise in the run-up to next week’s presidential election. The prohibition on Iran, a state-owned newspaper under the administration of Mr Ahmadinejad’s government, was imposed for “false reporting”, according to local news agencies, although they did not elaborate. The ban is the latest sign of Mr Ahmadinejad’s increasing marginalisation within Iran’s theocratic system.