National: Supreme Court expected to rule soon on constitutionality of Voting Rights Act | Washington Examiner

The Supreme Court is expected by the end of the month to announce its ruling on a case that could end a landmark Civil Rights-era law designed to combat discriminatory voting practices nationwide. All or parts of 16 states, mostly in the South, currently must receive approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before making changes in the way they hold elections. The provision is part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act — enacted to stop Jim Crowe-era practices such as literacy tests, poll taxes or other measures designed to keep blacks from voting. But Shelby County, Ala., is challenging the constitutionality of the advance approval, or “preclearance” requirement, saying it no longer should be forced to live under oversight from Washington because it has made significant progress in combating voter discrimination.

National: Political Optics Overlooked in ‘Tea Party’ Review – IRS Official | New York Times

Internal Revenue Service employees in Ohio, who singled out conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny, likely did not consider the political implications, an IRS official in Washington has told congressional investigators. Providing additional details about the worst crisis to hit the IRS in years, tax agency official Holly Paz told investigators she was concerned when she learned that IRS employees were singling out groups with “Tea Party” and other key words in their names. Paz is the most senior IRS official to be extensively interviewed by investigators. Ousted acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller was among the top-level Washington officials grilled by Congress in recent weeks. Investigators conducted longer transcribed interviews with IRS employees behind closed doors.

National: IRS Supervisor in DC Scrutinized Tea Party Cases | New York Times

An Internal Revenue Service supervisor in Washington says she was personally involved in scrutinizing some of the earliest applications from tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status, including some requests that languished for more than a year without action. Holly Paz, who until recently was a top deputy in the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, told congressional investigators she reviewed 20 to 30 applications. Her assertion contradicts initial claims by the agency that a small group of agents working in an office in Cincinnati were solely responsible for mishandling the applications. Paz, however, provided no evidence that senior IRS officials ordered agents to target conservative groups or that anyone in the Obama administration outside the IRS was involved.

Editorials: Do we still need the government to end racial discrimination? | MSNBC

With two weeks left in the term, the Supreme Court is set to deliver a series of high profile rulings on civil right cases. As early as Monday, the Court could hand down its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, a case that challenges Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Section 5 mandates that nine states and 56 additional counties receive preclearance by the Department of Justice before making any changes to voting laws which might discriminate against minorities. Seven years ago Congress overwhelmingly reauthorized Section 5 for another 25 years, affirming that the law still plays a critical role in ensuring fair and equal voting rights. Yet, opponents of Section 5 claim that race-based discrimination is no longer present to the extent that justifies such legal protection.

Idaho: GOP rejects rule to limit ballot access in GOP primaries | Spokesman

Republican leaders in Idaho on Saturday dumped a plan calling for party officials to vet GOP primary election candidates. The rejection came at the Republican Party Central Committee’s summer meeting in McCall, where the state’s dominant political group was setting its policy direction for the year to come. The proposal was from former Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck, as a way to pressure GOP candidates into adhering more to the wishes of their local party leaders. But dozens of other Republicans including House Speaker Scott Bedke, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs objected to it, on grounds that it would put decision-making in the hands of just a few people and disenfranchise broader GOP voters.

New Jersey: Christie’s Special Election Plan Heads New Jersey Supreme Court | Bloomberg

New Jersey’s Supreme Court will weigh in on Governor Chris Christie’s decision to hold a special election Oct. 16 to replace deceased U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. The justices put the case on a fast track today, ordering briefs by June 17 and final responses by June 18, acting state courts administrative director Judge Glenn Grant said in a statement. The move follows a lower appeals court decision yesterday that there’s no legal obstacle to holding the vote 20 days before the general election, when Christie’s on the ballot seeking a second term.

New Jersey: Union County Freeholders decline to fund special U.S. Senate election |

Calling Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to hold a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant after the recent death of Frank Lautenberg just weeks before an already scheduled election fiscally irresponsible, the Union County Freeholders on Thursday night declined to allocate the roughly $850,000 to fund the special balloting day, scheduled for October. Freeholder Mohamed Jalloh said holding two elections within weeks at such a cost was an unnecessary burden on taxpayers. “To have a special general election three weeks before (the scheduled election), that doesn’t make any sense,” Jalloh said this morning. “I haven’t been given an good reason as to why we would fund this twice.”

Editorials: Ohio’s chief justice offers intriguing suggestions for improving the way we elect the state’s judges | Toledo Blade

Ohioans continue to insist on the right to elect the state’s judges. We demand accountability, even though many of us don’t bother to vote in judicial elections and complain that we know next to nothing about the candidates. The Blade has long believed that Ohio would do better to select judges on the basis of professional merit rather than popular election. But because that won’t happen soon, if ever, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor suggests the next best thing: strengthening the way we elect judges. Justice O’Connor is inviting Ohioans to consider and debate eight issues related to judicial elections. Several of the proposals would require changes in state law or the Ohio Constitution. She notes that judicial elections in Ohio get 25 percent less voter participation, on average, than races at the top of the ballot. She suggests two ways to combat this decline: moving judicial races higher on all ballots, and holding state and county judicial elections in odd-numbered years (when elections for municipal judgeships already occur), so they would be less likely to compete with more attention-grabbing contests and ballot issues.

South Carolina: American Party tries to grab hold in South Carolina | Live5News

South Carolina voters may have another option on the ballot in 2014 as the American Party tries to grab hold in the state. A Democrat and Republican are backing the same party. “It’s not just another party,” says Dr. James Rex, co-founder of the American Party. “It’s a much different approach to politics, and I think it’s the approach that more and more Americans are saying they want to see. We want to be the problem-solving party,” says Dr. Oscar Lovelace, also a co-founder of the American Party. “We want to engage people in public policy.” Rex and Lovelace know public policy and politics well. Rex, a Democrat, was elected superintendent of education for the state in 2006 and Lovelace, a Republican, is a physician who sought his party’s nomination for governor in 2006 as well.

Cambodia: CNRP Still Undecided on Election Boycott | The Cambodia Daily

Discussions inside the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) continued over the weekend on whether to withdraw from next month’s national election due to a series of disruptions on opposition rallies and the failure of the government to reform the country’s electoral process, a party spokesman said Sunday. CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that a boycott of the national election is still “an option” and that party leaders would announce their final decision on whether to participate in the July 28 vote at a press conference on Thursday. “We cannot make a decision now…. We have to decide what our M.P.s [members of Parliament] want because they [the CPP] disrupt our meetings and destroy our sign boards, so this contributes to a very unproductive environment for elections,” Mr. Sovann said, adding that a decision by the CNRP not to participate would lead to increased international scrutiny on the ruling CPP.

Editorials: Why permanent residents should get the vote in Toronto | Metro

When activists started tossing around the idea of giving permanent residents in Toronto the right to vote in municipal elections, I came to the issue as a skeptic. Citizenship as a natural prerequisite to voting rights is one of those things that just seems intuitive. But by the time Toronto City Council got around to approving a formal request to the provincial government to extend the municipal vote to non-citizens, three things had changed my mind. The first was the work of writer and activist Desmond Cole, who selflessly championed the issue all the way up to last week’s council vote. His relentless drive and super convincing arguments in favour of the idea made him into a kind of city hall rock star, proof that all you need to affect change at city hall is an advocate who isn’t prepared to back down.

Germany: Colours of the rainbow – A guide to Germany’s federal elections | The Economist

Like much of Germany’s democratic machinery, its voting system is designed to avoid past mistakes. A combination of proportional representation and first-past-the-post majority voting fosters stable coalitions and discourages small fringe parties. When Germans go to the polls on September 22nd, they will elect the members of the Bundestag, or lower house of Parliament. Whichever coalition of parties can muster a majority of members will form the federal government. (Members of the Bundesrat, the upper chamber, are delegates of Germany’s 16 states, or Länder). Germans have two votes. One is for a candidate to represent the local electoral district (of which there are 299), chosen by simple plurality of votes. The second vote is for a party. Any party receiving 5% or more of the total is entitled to seats in the Bundestag, whether any of its candidates have won a district or not. If a party gets more seats through direct election than its share of the overall vote merits, it can keep some of these “overhang” seats. Thanks to a recent change in the electoral law, the other parties then get “compensatory” seats to restore the balance among the parties. These provisions mean the precise number of Bundestag members will not be known until after the election, but it could reach 700.

Guinea: Opposition Leader: Delayed Guinean Elections Unlikely this Month | VoA News

A key opposition leader in Guinea has said it is unlikely that the country’s long-delayed parliamentary elections will take place on June 30th as planned by the country’s Independent National Elections Commission (CENI). But, Sidya Toure of the Union of Republican Forces party said there has been significant progress on some of the key areas of disagreement during talks mediated by Ambassador Said Djinnit, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa. Toure said it could be another month or two before the long-delayed parliamentary elections are held.

Iran: President-elect Hassan Rouhani hails win | BBC

Hassan Rouhani has hailed his election as Iran’s president as a “victory of moderation over extremism”. The reformist-backed cleric won just over 50% of the vote and so avoided the need for a run-off. Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran when the result was announced, shouting pro-reform slogans. The US expressed concern at a “lack of transparency” and “censorship” but praised the Iranian people and said it was ready to work with Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged continued international pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear programme. “The international community must not give in to wishful thinking or temptation and loosen the pressure on Iran for it to stop its nuclear programme,” Mr Netanyahu told his cabinet, according to a statement released by his office.

Kuwait: Court Dissolves Parliament; Elections Ahead | Associated Press

Kuwait’s constitutional court forced new parliamentary elections Sunday, dissolving the current chamber on the basis of flaws in the election law, the state news agency reported. The decision may set the stage for a new wave of political showdowns in the Gulf nation. The ruling follows objections to the voting law in December’s election, which was boycotted by opposition groups and others who claimed the new rules favored Kuwait’s ruling family and were imposed without public debate.