Spin relies on confusion, and both seem to be prevalent in the ongoing saga over an IRS targeting campaign that singled out certain types of groups for special scrutiny after they applied for tax-exempt status. The most important questions in the IRS controversy are: Who started the filtering policy, what were the motivations, and how do we prevent it from happening again? Let’s examine some of the most common misconceptions that could distract from those issues. IRS officials have suggested that the targeting campaign, which began sometime before mid-2010, started as a policy to deal with an overwhelming increase in tax-exemption applications. This is an unsubstantiated claim that Democrats have replicated to defend the tax agency’s actions.
The president has named the members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration and tasked them with reporting back within six months of their first meeting, scheduled for June. The unfortunate fact is that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is already tasked to do what the commission is being asked to do, and we would do better to focus our limited resources and attention to such matters on making the EAC a serious professional body that focuses on the many and evolving challenges of election administration in 21st-century America. The other fact that seems to elude most is the sheer complexity of election administration. As a former member of Brazil’s electoral tribunal has put it, “There is no function of the modern state, short of going to war, that is as complex as election administration.”
Voting Blogs: The Federal Election Commission and its Choice of a General Counsel | More Soft Money Hard Law
As the combatants see it, each side in its own way, the stand-off within the Federal Election Commission is a conflict over principle and the proper reading of the law. Commissioners affiliated with the Democratic Party say they seek reasonable but vigorous enforcement; the Republican-affiliated Commissioners say they apply only the law as it is, within constitutional limits, and not as the Democrats wish it to be. The disagreements run through a host of regulatory decisions; they affect the writing of advisory opinions, the outcome of enforcement decisions, and the decisions over whether to appeal adverse court judgments. Bad feeling seems to run high. But, as one might expect, no Commissioner would concede in the slightest that partisanship or power politics accounts for the way their positions are formulated or their votes are cast. And it is always difficult when there are differences over matters of substance to be certain of the play of politics beneath the surface. It might be suspected; it is often hard to prove.
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation that will allow online voter registration, and officials of the agencies that would help implement the change in law say they are ready to make it work. “In today’s Internet age, allowing residents to register online will help more voters raise their voices at the ballot box and strengthen our democracy,” Quinn said in a statement after the General Assembly gave its final OK to the legislation, House Bill 2418, on May 30. The governor, who also used the statement to thank the bill’s chief sponsors, Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, said the new system would “move our election process into the 21st century by making voter registration easier and more readily available for everyday people. This cost-effective measure will save taxpayer dollars and welcome new voters of all ages to our state’s Democratic process.”
Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) has introduced legislation today to save taxpayers millions of dollars by changing this year’s November General election to coincide with the special election scheduled for October 16; the General election would revert back to November in 2014. Senator Turner also introduced a second bill to eliminate the option of a special election to fill vacancies in either house of Congress and require that individuals who receive temporary appointments to fill such vacancies be of the same political party as the person vacating the position. State law currently allows the governor to hold a special election or appoint an interim to fulfill the full term of the predecessor.
New Jersey: Appellate court: Democrat can proceed with lawsuit to reschedule Senate special election | NorthJersey.com
A county Democratic chairwoman can proceed with a lawsuit trying to have Governor Christie reschedule the special election to fill Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat, a pair of appellate judges ruled Friday afternoon. August’s special election will cause “voter suppression and confusion” and cost the state millions of dollars, said Peg Schaffer, the chairwoman of the Somerset County Democratic Committee. She asked the courts for permission to file the suit earlier on Friday. Schaffer endorsed state Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, Christie’s Democratic opponent in November’s gubernatorial election. But she said she wasn’t representing Buono in the lawsuit.
Wisconsin: Lawmakers negotiating to double donor limit, allow online registration | Journal Sentinel
Democrats and Republicans in the Assembly are working together on a bill that would double the amount donors can give politicians and allow voters to register online. It’s a surprise collaboration that emerged just days after Democrats reacted with outrage at a public hearing to an earlier version of the bill from Republicans. A new draft of the measure made public Friday night shows the GOP was willing to drop some elements that Democrats consider onerous to accomplish something both parties want — raising contribution limits. … The original plan to overhaul election laws, by Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), included elements that would make it harder to recall local officials, tweak the state’s stalled voter ID law and put new restrictions on when voters can cast ballots in clerks’ offices in the weeks before an election.
The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament endowed with legislative authority until the election of the House of Representatives) agreed Sunday to grant Egyptian military and police personnel the right to vote in elections by July 2020. Deputy Defence Minister Major Mamdouh Shahin asked the committee to exclude army and police personnel from the upcoming election voter lists, asserting that disclosing personal information of military personnel in voting databases would be a threat to national security. Shahin submitted an amendment to the Shura Council which proposes exempting army and police personnel from automatic updates of voting databases and establishing a different system for adding their information – to be agreed upon by the armed forces and police authorities – which takes into account the information’s confidential nature.
Italian voters were choosing mayors in Rome and other municipalities Sunday in balloting, whose results will be interpreted as a test of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s political influence with possible repercussions on the national government. Media mogul Berlusconi campaigned for his center-right party’s candidate in Rome, incumbent Gianni Alemanno, who is trying for a second term in a runoff against former transplant surgeon Ignazio Marino, who is backed by the center-left. Alemanno trailed in the first round two weeks ago in Italy’s capital. In his first run for the office, in 2008, Alemanno also trailed in the first round, but mounted a strong comeback to win in the runoff. Marino’s and Alemanno’s parties are the main partners in a coalition of bitter rivals in Premier Enrico Letta’s 5-week-old government, and are struggling to spur economic growth in the recession-mired country.
Election protests will soon be cheaper once the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decide to give losing candidates an option to use ballot images as basis for the recount. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said this will be done by decrypting the image files from the compact flash cards. “This could save money for the protestant because he will only pay for the decryption and getting the (ballot) image,” he said. At present, the Comelec requires the presentation of contested ballots and ballot boxes in recount proceedings.
Venezuela’s Electoral Council has completed an audit of results from April’s bitterly contested presidential election, and as expected it confirmed Nicolas Maduro’s 1.5 percentage-point victory. No government official appeared publicly to comment on the outcome, but an official at the council confirmed on Sunday a report by the state-run AVN news agency that the audit supported the official vote count. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to divulge the information. The opposition has complained that the council ignored its demand for a full recount. That would have included not just comparing votes electronically registered by machines with the paper ballot receipts they emitted, but also comparing those with the poll station registries that contain voter signatures and with digitally recorded fingerprints.
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has warned that his party would consider boycotting the next elections if media and security reforms are not implemented before the key vote, according to a Newzimbabwe.com report. The Movement for Democratic Change leader’s threats come after Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court made a ruling last Friday that the country should hold elections by July 31. Tsvangirai, who has been pressing for the polls to be delayed to allow implementation of the reforms, slammed the court’s ruling, insisting that credible elections were not feasible before October. “We are worried about some individuals manipulating the courts on the issue of elections,” he said.