National: Senate committee delays vote on FEC nominees | Center for Public Integrity

President Barack Obama’s two nominees to the Federal Election Commission must wait a little longer for the Senate Rules and Administration Committee to vote on their nominations. Only Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appeared at this morning’s scheduled meeting, announcing that the committee had failed to reach a quorum, and therefore, couldn’t conduct a vote. But Schumer, the committee’s chairman, added during brief remarks that a vote on the FEC nominees — Democrat Ann Ravel and Republican Lee Goodman — could come as “early as tomorrow.” Rules Committee staff explained that senators could conduct a vote on Goodman and Ravel without scheduling another formal meeting, instead gathering together during a break in action when the full Senate meets in session. The Rules Committee’s recommendation would be forwarded to the full Senate, which would conduct a final appointment vote.

Voting Blogs: Political Contributions, Conflicts of Interest, and the Role of Ethical Standards | More Soft Money Hard Law

In the fight over contribution limits, litigants argue over how much money, given by whom and in which ways, can push normal politics into corruption or the certainty of its appearance. McCutcheon tests the proposition that corruption can be a byproduct of the total volume of giving, not just how much a donor hands over to a specific candidate or political committee. McCutcheon v. Fed. Election Comm’n, No. 12-536 (S. Ct. docketed Nov. 1, 2012). Other cases bring the courts into the dispute over the relationship between corrupt potential and the size of the contribution, the tipping point at which the sum given exceeds what it is safe to allow. Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC, 528 U.S. 377 (2000). Threading its way through these arguments is the question of whether and how the identity of donors, such as political parties, should be weighed in the bargain. See e.g. Illinois Liberty PAC v. Madigan, Case:1:12-cv-05811 (N.D. Ill.). These arguments are waged energetically but without much precision or consistency.

Colorado: Allegations of voter suppression efforts ignore the reality of recall elections | The Recall Elections Blog

We now have the usual flip side of the “gypsy voter fraud” allegations that we heard yesterday — an equally specious complaint of voter suppression. Part of the complaint is that the mail-in ballot law was tossed out for the recall. Nothing can be said about that — that’s the rules, and you got to play’em. The other, more important claim, is that the turnout is exceptionally low, even for a recall. However, this may not be borne out by facts. With a few, very noteworthy exceptions, recalls usually see lower turnout. Let’s look at another high profile state legislative recall. Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce faced a recall which took place on an election day (albeit a true off year election). Election Day recalls should have higher turnout than a regular special election like in Colorado, and since Pearce was such a lightening rod, you might expect great turnout. Instead, 23,296 people voted, down from 31,023 who voted in the 2010 general election (when it was a safe seat).

Colorado: Democrats Accuse Opponents Of Voter Suppression | Huffington Post

The first recall election in Colorado’s history will determine on Tuesday the fate of two Democratic lawmakers, Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron (Pueblo), who stand to lose their seats after voting for stricter gun laws earlier this year. But while national attention has focused on both recall fights as a referendum on gun control, anti-recall operatives say they’re battling an entirely different issue: Voting laws. Morse and Giron became the target of recall efforts after they supported a comprehensive gun control package that passed the state legislature in March. The reforms included background checks for all firearms purchases and a ban on high-capacity magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. Gun rights advocates, bolstered by the National Rifle Association, initially sought to recall four Democrats but only collected the required signatures to challenge Morse and Giron. But as the recall fight reaches an end, several Democrats working on the ground told The Huffington Post that if either Morse or Giron is defeated, it will be because their opponents were able to suppress voter turnout by making it difficult for constituents to cast their ballots. Turnout is typically low in recall elections, but one Democratic official estimated turnout of less than 15 percent across both counties.

Editorials: Florida leaders wasted time on phantom voter fraud | Orlando Sentinel

It’s time to face reality: There’s no significant problem with voter fraud in Florida. If it did exist, highly trained investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would’ve been able to find it. Late last month, the law-enforcement agency quietly closed two high-profile cases, having found no fraud of any significance. Only one arrest was made. While other cases are pending, there’s nothing to suggest the epidemic of voter fraud hyped by Gov. Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers in advance of the 2012 presidential election. They played on fears at the time to pass a law that reduced early voting days from 14 to eight and restricted voter-registration drives. Both changes made voting harder — especially on groups likely to back Democrats. After Florida was embarrassed by hours-long lines on Election Day, some of those “reforms” were undone in last spring’s legislative session.

Michigan: Recount starts in Detroit primary races | The Detroit News

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers Tuesday began a recount of Detroit’s Aug. 6 primary election that was certified a week ago. A total of eight recount petitions were filed and accepted, including a request by Tom Barrow who said he seeks to uncover fraud in the effort. Barrow has raised a number of issues, including challengers who claim to have seen similar handwriting on a number of ballots. The Wayne County Clerk’s Office is not sure how long the recount will take, but by law it must be finished within the next 20 days, spokeswoman Jina Sawani said Tuesday. Barrow spokesman Geoffrey Garfield said things are “going on fine” so far, but he is not ready to say whether fraud will be discovered. In November 2009, Barrow requested a recount after losing to Mayor Dave Bing 58 percent to 42 percent and claimed voter fraud. The recount resulted in a change of few votes, but 60,000 regular and absentee ballots could not be recounted because of irregularities.

New York: Mayoral primary plagued by voting machine problems | Associated Press

As New York City’s contentious primary campaign drew to a close Tuesday, some voters – including one leading mayoral candidate – encountered problems with the city’s decades-old voting machines. Turnout appeared light, but the city’s complaint line received several thousand voting-related calls. Many reported jams and breakdowns in the antiquated lever machines, which were hauled out of retirement to replace much-maligned electronic devices. In some sites, the broken machines forced voters to use pen and paper to cast their ballot. Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota presumably wrote his own name when his machine broke at his Brooklyn polling place.

South Dakota: Native voting rights group seeks county’s help | The Argus Leader

Minnehaha County commissioners Tuesday received a second visit from a voting rights activist who wants the commission to censure the county’s insurance cooperative. Bret Healy, consultant for the Four Directions voting rights group, reiterated a request that the county formally express its disapproval of the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance seeking to recover costs from plaintiffs in a federal voting rights lawsuit against the state and Shannon and Fall River counties. U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier dismissed the suit after the state and counties agreed to use federal Help America Vote Act funds to set up satellite voting on the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Pine Ridge reservation.

Australia: How Voting For The Senate Works In Australia | Lifehacker Australia

The record large Senate ballot papers have probably already annoyed many early voters. Their great length — over a metre in NSW and Victoria — will soon annoy many more voters. However, the real annoyance will come if new senators with very little popular support get elected. The reason why this might happen is a distortion of the Proportional Representation system, where, by voting “above the line”, it is the party — not the voter — that decides the preferences. In this election, more than ever before, large numbers of parties that we have never heard of are on the ballot paper. Preference deal strategies might even lead to some of them getting elected. Back in 2004, Labor and Australian Democrat preferences in Victoria went to Family First ahead of the Greens. Almost no Labor or Democrat voters knew this when they voted above the line, but this led to Family First’s Steve Fielding’s election to the Senate. This can happens because the above the line option — where the preferences are decided by the party you vote for, not by you the voter — was introduced for Senate polls in 1983. These preferences are listed in the Group Voting Tickets.

Editorials: Independent Cambodian Election Inquiry Needed | Thomsen-Reuters

The Cambodian government-controlled National Election Committee (NEC) has failed to address credible allegations of voter fraud and other irregularities or systematic unfairness in the election process. The NEC announced official election results on September 8, 2013. The NEC results give the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) 68 seats and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), led by Sam Rainsy, 55 seats. Earlier the ruling party-dominated Constitutional Council dismissed all meaningful complaints about the conduct of the July 28 election.

Guinea: Opposition gives election commission 72-hour deadline to fix electoral roll | The Washington Post

Guinea’s opposition has announced that they are giving the country’s election commission 72 hours to fix the nation’s roll of registered voters, or they will pull out of the elections and start street protests. The opposition charges the just-released voter roll is deeply skewed in favor of the ruling party. The ultimatum, issued by opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla, comes just weeks before Guinea is expected to hold a much-delayed parliamentary election on Sept. 24. The poll has been repeatedly rescheduled, as the opposition and the ruling party wrangle over the preparations for the vote. The delays mean that this West African nation has gone years without a functioning legislature. “If in these 72 hours — which expire on Thursday — we don’t get what we asked for, which is the publication of a new electoral list that fixes the various anomalies we have pointed out … we are going to announce a schedule of street protests, and we are going to pull out of the electoral process,” said Sylla by telephone on Tuesday to The Associated Press.

Russia: Navalny demands recount in Moscow mayoral race | Associated Press

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny demanded a recount Monday in Moscow’s mayoral election after official results showed that the Kremlin-backed incumbent barely escaped facing him in a runoff. Russia’s most respected monitoring group also questioned the accuracy of the vote. The Moscow Election Commission said Monday that former Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Sobyanin won just over 51 percent of the vote while Navalny garnered 27 percent in second place, a strong result for a Russian opposition leader. If Sobyanin, 55, had won less than 50 percent, he would have faced a runoff with the charismatic 37-year-old Navalny, who has risen to wide prominence in the past few years with his anti-corruption campaign. “We do not recognize these elections,” Navalny told reporters. “Sobyanin can’t consider himself the mayor of all Muscovites, he can’t consider himself a lawfully elected mayor unless he agrees to our demands and allows a recount of the vote.”

South Africa: Right to vote abroad set to become law | The South African

With South Africa’s next national election coming up in 2014, the right of citizens to vote abroad looks set to be written into law. The Electoral Act of 1998 currently only allows government officials, travelling sporting teams and people on business trips or holidays abroad to cast special votes – if they notify the  Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) within 15 days of the proclamation of the election date. However, in 2009 this stipulation was successfully challenged in court by the Freedom Front Plus, AfriForum and others. The Constitutional Court found in Richter v Minister of Home Affairs and Others that the Electoral Act was unconstitutional and invalid as it prevented South Africans living overseas from voting. This meant that South Africans in the UK and elsewhere were allowed to vote in the 2009 national election. Now the IEC has taken this a step further and proposed amendments to the Electoral Act that would allow people to vote no matter where they are on election day.

Texas: Voting Rights Dispute Enters Another Round | The Texas Tribune

Texas and the Obama administration are at odds over the Voting Rights Act, but all that’s really changed is the venue. In 2011, the Legislature drew new political maps, adjusting congressional and legislative districts to accommodate growth in the population and — since it was a Republican Legislature at the time — to try to ensure a Republican majority for the next decade. Democrats would have done the same thing, if they’d had a majority. We know that because that’s what happened in 1991. Lawmakers adopted a tough law in 2011 requiring Texans to produce state-approved photo IDs before their votes can be counted. Both the maps and the voter ID law got stuck in the federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court unstuck things earlier this summer with a ruling that effectively removed federal oversight over Texas election laws.

Norway: Vote early, vote often: Inside Norway’s pioneering open source e-voting trials | ZDNet

With Norway holding parliamentary elections this week, the country has taken the opportunity to hold its second e-voting pilot. The pilot follows an earlier trial which took place during the local government elections in 2011. According to statistics released by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the ministry responsible for running elections in Norway, the e-voting participation increased significantly compared to 2011. The trial was carried out in 12 municipalities, chosen for geographical and demographical diversity, which play home to 250,000 of Norway’s 3.6 million voters. … Even though the e-voting system with security front and centre, it still has attracted some criticism from security professionals. The first and most discussed issue were concerns raised over the encryption used in the pilot. The encryption software on the voters’ computers was thought to not have a good enough random number seed for the algorithm and, according to the security company Computas which was engaged by the government to control the system, the seed value was “very predictable”.

Russia: Opposition Leader Asserts Broad Problems in Moscow Race | New York Times

The Russian opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, on Thursday submitted to a court more than 50,000 pages of documents illustrating what he said were irregularities in Sunday’s voting in the Moscow mayor’s race in an attempt to prove that he won enough votes to force a runoff against the incumbent, Sergei S. Sobyanin. But the court refused to block the inauguration of Mr. Sobyanin, who barely cleared the threshold for an outright victory with 51.4 percent. He was sworn in on Thursday evening during a ceremony in the city’s World War II museum. According to the official returns, Mr. Navalny placed second with 27.2 percent. Yet, even as Mr. Navalny and his aides lugged 21 boxes of documents to the courthouse, they acknowledged not only that there was little hope of overturning the results, but also that the voting had been relatively fair. So they have adopted a new message: while the vote was generally free of blatant fraud like ballot stuffing, the election itself was rigged from the beginning.