Fears rose Saturday of yet another disputed election in Albania after the commission tasked with certifying the vote remained defunct a day before the Balkan country goes to the polls. Since the fall of communism two decades ago, elections in Albania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, have been disputed or marred by violence and allegations of irregularities. Tirana desperately needs to prove to its Western partners that it is able to hold fair polls that meet international standards if it is to have a shot at joining the EU. But on the eve of the polls, the Central Electoral Commission remained inoperational.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Tuesday that he and two campaign finance watchdog groups would sue the IRS, challenging regulations that allow nonprofit groups to be involved in politics if they’re “primarily” devoted to a social welfare purpose. Van Hollen said he and watchdog groups Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 would sue to clarify an IRS regulation that he said was at odds with the law, which requires certain groups to “exclusively” engage in social welfare to earn nonprofit status. The IRS regulation permitting groups “primarily” engaged in social welfare allows the organizations to participate in an undefined amount of political activity, said the congressman, a leading advocate of campaign finance reform and ranking member of the House Budget Committee.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday said he would offer an amendment to the Senate immigration bill to counteract a Supreme Court decision striking down state laws requiring voters to prove their citizenship. Cruz’s amendment, which he plans to attach to the bipartisan Gang of Eight bill being debated this week in the Senate, would allow states to require IDs before voters register under the federal “Motor Vehicle” voter registration law. The high court on Monday overturned an Arizona law requiring people to prove their citizenship if they wanted to register through that law. In a 7-2 vote, the court ruled in the case of Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. that state law was trumped by federal law and Arizona could not require voters to provide additional information.
The House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat on Tuesday released the full transcript of a congressional interview that he said “debunks conspiracy theories” about the IRS targeting controversy. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the committee, produced a complete interview transcript in which an IRS manager in Cincinnati said he elevated the first tea party case that led the agency to begin singling out conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Cummings released partial transcripts from the manager’s interview last week, prompting warnings from committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) about releasing full interviews.
A Supreme Court decision Monday that struck down an Arizona law requiring people to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote was hailed by voting-rights advocates as a big win. But several legal scholars say the ruling, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, could in fact set back the voting-rights cause in cases to come. As Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University writing inThe Huffington Post, put it, Scalia “may have implanted today’s opinion with a virus that may hamper federal voting protections in the future.” In his opinion, Scalia found that the Constitution’s “Elections Clause” gives Congress the authority to set the “times, places, and manner” for holding congressional elections. As a result, Scalia ruled, Arizona’s law, known as Proposition 200, is pre-empted by the federal National Voter Registration Act, which requires states to accept a federal form that makes people attest under penalty of perjury that they’re citizens, but doesn’t make them show proof. So far so good for voting rights. But Scalia also ruled—and six other justices agreed—that the Elections Clause does not give Congress the power to set voter qualifications.
Editorials: Gift or Gotcha: What to Make of Scalia’s Arizona Opinion | Janai S. Nelson/Huffington Post
On Monday — just over twenty years to the day that President Bill Clinton signed the National Voter Registration Act (affectionately known as “Motor Voter Law”) into law — the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona’s attempt to tack a proof-of-citizenship requirement onto the federal voter registration form was in violation of the Act. Given Arizona’s racial and ethnic demographics, the burden of this requirement fell heavily upon the state’s Latino and Native American voters. However, Arizona residents were given a reprieve — at least for now — by Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the Court’s staunchest conservatives, who authored the opinion in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.
June arrived with two election law cases at the Supreme Court. One is still pending: a highly anticipated decision on section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The other, more frequently overlooked, was decided yesterday. And there are some quirks of the opinion that seem to depart from the swiftly congealing conventional wisdom that the states might actually have “won,” and now need only run out the clock. The case is called Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., but it has bounced through the courts under various names for seven years. In 2004, Arizona voters passed Prop 200, increasing identification requirements at the polls (one valid photo ID or two non-photo documents with name and current address) and requiring new voters to submit documentary proof of citizenship with a voter registration form.
Voting and civil rights groups cheered a decision by the Supreme Court Monday that struck down an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voting. The court’s 7-2 ruling said Arizona’s voter-approved Proposition 200, which required proof of citizenship for voter registration, was trumped by the federal “motor voter” law that only requires a potential voter to swear to their citizenship. Justice Samuel Alito, in one of two dissenting opinions, said the court’s ruling “seriously undermines” the state’s interest in preserving the integrity of elections. And Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said late Monday that the state is not about to give up the fight, saying the state would pursue appeals with the Election Assistance Commission and the courts. But Proposition 200 opponents think it is too late for the state, now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the case.
Libertarians and Green Party candidates would be virtually cut off from running for office under new nominating-petition requirements in a bill now on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk. Meanwhile, the legislation eases the number of signatures needed for Republican and Democratic candidates. On Tuesday, critics of the law said it’s a valentine for Republican candidates, who see third-party candidates, particularly Libertarians, as spoilers in races. The provision was tacked onto a wide-ranging election bill, House Bill 2305, one week before the Legislature adjourned. It passed on largely partyline votes in the closing hours of the session with the support of most Republicans and solid opposition from Democrats. On Tuesday, the minor-party officials said the bill, if signed, would cement the two parties’ hold on Arizona elections.
The city’s top elected officials held high hopes that next year’s primary election might be moved from its current date of April 1, via legislation introduced in April by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and subsequently endorsed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D). But with at least three of five members of the council’s Government Operations Committee currently opposing the change, it looks as though next year’s primary day will remain April Fools’. Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), the panel’s chairman and a co-introducer of the bill, confirmed that the measure has insufficient support on his panel. He said Monday that if he can’t get two additional votes by Friday, he won’t move the bill.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that Arizona cannot require voters to document their citizenship before allowing them to cast ballots in federal elections. Arizona voters in 2004 approved Proposition 200, which requires voters to document their citizenship before allowing them to cast ballots in federal elections. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down the law. Rather, the high court said that a 1993 federal law takes precedence. That statute says people may register to vote using a federal form that asks, under penalty of perjury, whether they are U.S. citizens.
Minnesota: Ranked Choice Voting looms large as Minneapolis Democrats fail to endorse mayoral candidate | Twin Cities Daily Planet
A contentious, 12-hour convention Saturday failed to endorse a DFL candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis, increasing the significance of the role that Ranked Choice Voting will play in the November 5 election and giving a crowded field of candidates more room for maneuver. More than 1,400 delegates attended the all-day convention which — like all but one of the previous three such events — did not succeed at giving the party’s endorsement to one candidate. The convention dissipated in confusion after four ballots when supporters of progressive candidate Betsy Hodges left the Minneapolis Convention Center, joined by supporters of fellow progressive candidate Gary Schiff. Schiff had withdrawn his name from contention after the second ballot and urged his supporters to join forces with Hodges. The joint tactics by the two City Council members were aimed at blocking an endorsement for former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew, who was the favorite of many “old-guard” DFLers and came the closest to winning the 60-percent support necessary for endorsement.
New Hampshire: Voter ID talks break down at State House, no compromise expected on changes to 2012 law | Concord Monitor
he Democratic effort to roll back New Hampshire’s voter ID law ran aground yesterday when negotiations between the House and Senate ended almost as soon as they began. Negotiators from the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate could still reach some sort of compromise before Thursday’s deadline for committees of conference to finish their work. But neither side sounds confident that will happen. “I would say the chances are slim,” said Rep. Gary Richardson, a Hopkinton Democrat and the chief House negotiator. Last year, the then-GOP-dominated Legislature enacted a law requiring voters to present photo identification or sign an affidavit at the polls. The law’s second phase will kick in this fall, with a shorter list of acceptable forms of ID that doesn’t include student IDs and a requirement that election workers photograph anyone signing an affidavit to vote.
Government lawyers argued Tuesday that the New Jersey Supreme Court should reject a request to move a special U.S. Senate election that Gov. Chris Christie scheduled three weeks before the state’s regular Nov. 5 election. Christie and all 120 legislative seats are up for election in November. However, the governor set the special election for Oct. 16 — the first legally allowable date — to fill the remaining year of a Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Democrats sued, and an appeals court quickly and unanimously sided with Christie, ruling the governor within his authority to set the special election schedule. The Supreme Court received briefs this week from challengers seeking emergency consideration to invalidate the dates. They say it’s unnecessary to hold a special election so close to regularly scheduled balloting, which will cost taxpayers an extra $12 million. There is no word on when the court might rule. Party primaries are scheduled for Aug. 13. Four Democrats and two Republicans have qualified.
Rhode Island voters who have no photo IDs would be able to continue to show a government-issued ID when they go to the polls, according to a bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday night. The vote was 11-1 with Rep. Doreen Marie Costa casting the lone dissenting vote. The bill (H-5776 Sub A), which was being redrafted until just before the hearing, now heads to the House for a floor vote. Supporters describe the bill as a compromise between those calling for stricter ID requirements for voters and others who have sought to repeal the current Voter ID law, enacted in 2011, with its requirement that voters show photo IDs starting in 2014.
The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) special summit on the Zimbabwe elections went ahead on June 15 in Maputo, Mozambique, despite press reports that Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe had sought its postponement. Mugabe had unilaterally proclaimed that elections would go ahead on July 31, as mandated by the Zimbabwean constitutional court. The opposition parties, led by Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, strongly objected to elections that soon because a package of reforms designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 electoral violence has not been legislated or implemented. SADC, led by South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma, has called for such a Zimbabwe “road map” that would promote free and fair elections. The upshot of the Maputo summit is that Mugabe agreed to ask the constitutional court to allow a delay in the elections for about two weeks. Mugabe also apparently agreed to regularize through parliament some amendments to the electoral act that he had already implemented using presidential powers. In addition, the Zimbabwean security forces are to restate their commitment to the rule of law. SADC further urged the Zimbabwean parties in parliament to agree on legislation concerning a number of proposed reforms that remain outstanding.