Colorado: Senate President John Morse and Colorado’s unique resignation angle | Recall Elections Blog

As mentioned earlier, the Colorado state Senate President John Morse recall runs into a unique provision (at least for recall states) that could allow the Democrats to keep the Morse seat without a recall. However, the provision requires some explanation: The trick would only works if Morse resigns before the recall is certified to go to the ballot, and a stray sentence might limit it even further. Here’s how it appears to work. Colorado’s Constitution (Article V section 2)  requires that any state legislative vacancy be filled by a “member of the same political party…” Colorado fills its vacant state legislate seats by appointment by the county committee, not by special election. Therefore, if there is a resignation, a Democrat must be selected to fill the seat. But timing the resignation is critical.

Colorado: Ethics Commission opts to proceed with Scott Gessler hearing | The Denver Post

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission decided Monday to proceed with a hearing Friday on whether Secretary of State Scott Gessler misused office money, including nearly $1,300 to go to Florida last year for a Republican lawyers conference. While in Florida, he attended the Republican National Convention, then bought a new ticket to fly home early after an e-mailed threat against his family. Gessler repaid the money on May 23. Gessler, a Republican, is considering a run for governor next year. Commissioners, in a telephone conference call, didn’t speak directly to the reasons for pressing on. Nor did representatives from Gessler’s defense or Colorado Ethics Watch, which filed the complaint.

Voting Blogs: Connecticut Legislature Passes Bill Outlawing Fusion for New and Small Parties | Ballot Access News

On June 4, the Connecticut legislature passed HB 6580, which outlaws fusion unless both parties had polled at least 15,000 votes for one of the state statewide offices at the previous gubernatorial election. The bill passed the House on June 1 and the Senate on June 4. It also alters campaign finance laws. See this story, which is not accurate when it says the bill entirely bans fusion. “Fusion” means the practice of two parties jointly nominating the same candidate, so that his or her name appears on the November ballot with both party labels. Assuming the Governor signs the bill and it takes effect, it is probably unconstitutional. States are free to ban fusion if they wish, but they cannot do so in a discriminatory manner. For instance, the Third Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law in 1999 that permitted fusion between two large parties but not fusion between a large party and a small party, in Reform Party of Allegheny County v Allegheny County Department of Elections, 174 F.3d 305.

Illinois: Lawmakers approve no money for online voting registration program | Bloomington Pantagraph

State lawmakers last week approved legislation giving Illinoisans the ability to register to vote online. But, in the hubbub of the annual end-of-session rush to adjourn for the summer, members of the House and Senate left town without allocating any money to pay for the proposal. “It’s something that we’re going to have to figure out,” said Rupert Borgsmiller, director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. “We’ll have to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” … Early estimates put the cost at about $1.5 million, with the bulk of that coming out of the board of elections budget. The Secretary of State’s office estimates the program will have a start-up cost of about $50,000.

Minnesota: Mark Ritchie won’t seek re-election in 2014 | Pioneer Press

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to a third term in 2014. “This is the right decision for me and my family right now,” said Ritchie, 61. “When I did the math, if I would be honored by being re-elected, I would be closer to 70 than 65” after completing another term. He hasn’t decided what he wants to do after leaving office. “My public service will take a different form. I don’t know what it will be, but it won’t be as Minnesota’s next secretary of state. That will be for a new generation of leadership.” Vacancies in state constitutional offices are rare, and the announcement by Ritchie, a Democrat, is likely to set off a stampede of ambitious candidates for his post.

New Jersey: Christie calls special election for this fall, angering some Republicans | Los Angeles Times

Saying he wanted to give voters “a choice and a voice in the process,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie scheduled a special election in October to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, a move that risks worsening strained relations with national Republican activists, but which carries several political advantages for him at home. Republican strategists in Washington had hoped Christie would skip a special election and appoint a strong candidate who would fill the seat until the regularly scheduled 2014 election. That would give the appointee the advantage of incumbency and would have given Republicans their best chance to hold the seat in a heavily Democratic state. But Democrats were certain to go to court if Christie did not call an election this year, creating a battle as Christie runs for reelection. New Jersey law is ambiguous about how to fill vacancies in the state’s U.S. Senate seats, and a court might have overturned a decision to skip a special election.

Editorials: With special election decision, Christie helps himself too | NBC

In a decision with implications for his own re-election this fall, the next presidential campaign and the GOP in Washington, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday called for a special election to be held this year to choose the successor to the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Christie announced at a press conference that he had opted against appointing a successor to Lautenberg to serve until the 2014 election, and scheduled a general election on Oct. 16. The primary will be held in August. Christie also said he would appoint an interim senator to serve between now and November, though he explained that he had not decided on that temporary appointee yet. With this decision, Christie is potentially helping create the conditions for a big win in his re-election contest against Democrat Barbara Buono this November.  Without a contested Senate campaign happening at the same time as his own re-election, turnout among Democrats is likely to be far lower, allowing Christie to run up the margin of victory in a race he is already a big favorite to win. That, in turn, could make him look like a more formidable presidential candidate in 2016 should he choose to run.

Texas: State last in voter turnout | San Antonio Express-News

If Texans abide by the mantra, “if you don’t vote, don’t complain,” they should be the least-complaining bunch in the nation. Texas ranked 51st in voter turnout in 2010 — behind the other states and Washington D.C. — and 49th in the number of citizens who contact public officials, according to the study released by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin and the National Conference on Citizenship. The state’s slacking continues when it comes to civic participation rates, ranking 43rd in donating and 42nd in volunteering, according to the Texas Civic Health Index. “Some of the numbers are really surprising — maybe even shocking,” said journalism Professor Regina Lawrence, director of the Annette Strauss Institute.

Wisconsin: Opponents criticize bill aimed at reinstating voter ID | Pioneer Press

A sweeping Republican bill designed to reinstate voter photo identification requirements in Wisconsin would force poor people to humiliate themselves at the polls and scale back absentee voting opportunities, opponents warned during a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday. Rep. Jeff Stone’s bill would make a host of changes to state election law. A key provision would allow voters to opt out of showing photo IDs at the polls if they swear before the chief inspector and sign an affidavit saying they’re poor and can’t obtain identification without paying a fee; have a religious objection to being photographed; or can’t obtain the proper documents needed to acquire photo identification. Stone, R-Greendale, told the Assembly election committee during Tuesday’s hearing that the provisions are designed to overcome a court decision nullifying voter ID requirements in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos wants quick action on elections bill – State elections board wants go-slow approach | Journal Sentinel

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos plans to proceed quickly with a wide-ranging election reform bill despite objections from the state elections board. “Our main message to the committee today is please slow down,” said Michael Haas, elections director for the Government Accountability Board. “The legislation addresses some significant policy areas of election and campaign finance…that would benefit from more vetting.” But Vos, a Rochester Republican, said quick passage is necessary to enact election safeguards and properly train poll workers before the next election in spring 2014. “We adjourn on June 30, so it is my intention to get a bill passed by June 30,” Vos said, referring to the end of the Assembly’s floor period. He said he is happy to discuss components of the bill in a bipartisan fashion but stressed the need for additional safeguards in election law.

Estonia: EU Parliament member involved in Reform Party election scandal | Baltic Course

Estonian Reform Party court of honour convened for a meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the conclusions of the party’s working group that investigated the internal elections fraud in the party, which, among others, involves Estonian European Parliament member Kristiina Ojuland, LETA/Postimees Online reports. The report of the working group should next be discussed by the party board on Wednesday. The head of the working group, Reform Party MP Väino Linde told Postimees that the materials and testimonies they had collected confirmed the suspicions of the working group that Reform Party’s Lääne-Virumaa county organisation development manager Taimi Samblik, the county organisations chairwoman, European Parliament member Kristiina Ojuland and Lääne-Viru County Governor Einar Vallbaum were connected to the voting fraud that was committed at the elections of the party board in 2011 and 2013.

Equatorial Guinea: Opposition cries foul after leader’s party sweeps vote | Reuters

Equatorial Guinea’s main opposition movement cried foul on Tuesday after the president’s party announced it had won all but two seats in last month’s parliamentary election in the tiny oil-rich West African state. President Teodoro Nguema Obiang’s ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) won 99 of the 100 seats in the lower house of assembly and 54 of 55 senate seats in the May 26 vote, the government said on its website on Saturday. The Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS) party will be the only opposition group represented in parliament, with one seat in the lower house and one in the senate. “These results have nothing to do with the votes people actually cast,” Placido Mico, secretary-general of the CPDS, told Reuters. “We completely reject these results … This is a real fraud, in total violation of the law.”

Fiji: New electoral system in new constitution | FijiVillage

As Fiji awaits the announcement of the new constitution, one of the major changes being anticipated is the electoral system that will be used in the country for the first time. The new constitution will also confirm the type of electoral system that will be adopted as we move towards the 2014 elections. In the draft constitution prepared by the government’s legal team, it was proposed that the election of members of parliament is by a multi-member open list system of proportional representation, under which each voter has one vote with each vote being of equal value.

France: E-voting system used in French election is flawed | Help Net Security

A recent electronic election in France has proved electronic some voting systems still cannot be trusted not to include fraudulent votes. The town hall primary election which ended on Monday saw four candidates of the Union Pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) vie for the honor to be the party’s candidate in the Paris mayoral elections scheduled for next spring. But, the entire affair has been tainted by claims of Metronews journalists that it’s extremely easy to cast a ballot in other voters’ name. The UMP had outsourced the organization of the election to Docapost, a subsidiary of the French postal service, which has apparently organized several successful union and political elections in the past. The company assured that every measure had been taken to prevent fraud, and the UMP had even hired a security expert to control the voting process and results.

Iran: Guards wield electoral power behind scenes | Reuters

With 10 days until Iran’s presidential election, voters have been able watch the candidates in debate, but many remain unenthused, believing the result will depend not on those on the platform but on powerful men in the background. The Revolutionary Guards, a military force over 100,000 strong which also controls swathes of Iran’s economy, is widely assumed to have fixed the vote last time around, silenced those who protested and to be preparing to anoint a favored candidate this year, having already narrowed down the field. The successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who steps down after a second term, will remain subordinate to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And many see the hand of the Guards, the muscle of the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers, in steering victory toward one of several conservative loyalists -while stifling the kind of protests that followed the 2009 vote.

Madagascar: Interim government postpones elections | News24

Madagascar’s interim government Wednesday postponed key elections, meant to end a four-year political deadlock on the island, after a special court found outside factors had derailed the poll preparations. The Government Council decided “to call on the CENIT (election commission) to determine an election calendar”, it announced in a statement, opening the way for a new vote date. An electoral court on Tuesday declared a force majeure had compromised organisation for the July 24 presidential and parliamentary polls. It found the suspension of donor funds and international rejection of three controversial presidential candidates made it unlikely the Indian Ocean island would be ready by that date.

Russia: Moscow’s mayor steps down to fight election | Russia Beyond The Headlines

Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, announced Tuesday he is stepping down two years early to stand for a new term in office. Sobyanin suggested that the new mayoral election – Moscow’s first in 10 years – would take place on Sept. 8, the same day as the election for governor is scheduled to take place in the surrounding Moscow Region. The maneuver is largely being viewed as an effort to secure a five-year mayoral term at a time when his strongest potential opponents, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and opposition activist Alexei Navalny, are likely to be deterred from running. Sobyanin announced his decision on June 4 at a meeting of Moscow’s Public Chamber, where its members urged Sobyanin, appointed mayor by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, to call early elections to boost his legitimacy among Muscovites. He is thought likely to continue as acting mayor after formally submitting his resignation to President Vladimir Putin, in the period leading up to the new mayoral election.

New York: Assembly Democrats Float Bill To Bring Back NYC Lever Voting, But Details Remain In The Works | New York Daily News

The bill sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-S.I.) doesn’t match a previously passed Senate bill in several key areas. The Senate version permits the use of lever machines for any non-federal vote. Cusick’s proposal limits it to this year’s primary and possible runoff elections alone. With two weeks left in the legislative session, Senate bill sponsor Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) said he’s hopeful — but not convinced — an agreement can be struck.

Ohio: Democrats dispute Husted’s report of no voter suppression | The Columbus Dispatch

None? None! NONE!? A new report released yesterday by two Statehouse Democrats suggests there was all sorts of voter “suppression” in Ohio in 2012, an obvious contrast with a report from May 23 released by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. That one said there wasn’t any. “Zero? That should’ve triggered a bell, and it did for us too. Zero? Something is wrong with that,” said state Sen. Nina Turner, one of the Democrats behind yesterday’s report. Turner will likely challenge Husted for his office in 2014. The report released by Turner and Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent cites tens of thousands of instances of voter “suppression,” counting all 34,299 provisional ballots rejected, all 13,190 absentee ballots rejected, 2,188 complaints from Ohio Democratic volunteer attorneys on Election Day, and the 122 votes rejected in the Ohio House 98th District race won narrowly by a Republican.

Wisconsin: GOP May Push Through New Voter ID Law | WPRN

Opponents of a new bill want more time to study the legislation that would require photo ID and repeal a ban on corporate campaign contributions. The new legislation, introduced as previous voter ID legislation is tied up in the courts, is 78 pages long, leaving may Democrats asking for more time to analyze it. Wisconsin’s voter ID law is currently tied up in the courts. Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, believes his revised bill would be constitutional. Those who can’t afford a photo ID would have to reveal to election officials their lack of income or sign an affidavit why they don’t have a birth certificate to get an ID: “This is very similar to Indiana’s current photo ID law that was held in the U.S. Supreme Court.”