Kansas: State won’t require citizenship proof for driver’s license renewals | Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas no longer plans to require people renewing driver’s licenses to produce proof that they are living in the U.S. legally, Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said Monday, confirming a policy shift with implications for the state’s administration of a separate proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters. Jordan said in an interview with The Associated Press that the Department of Revenue, which oversees licensing, will develop a program in coming months in which drivers renewing their licenses can voluntarily present birth certificates, passports or other citizenship documents and have it noted on their licenses. Kansas law already requires people obtaining a new license to provide proof of their lawful residency. State officials previously had planned for such a requirement to be extended to all license renewals under a 2005 federal anti-terrorism law designed to make states’ licenses more secure. But federal officials recently declared that Kansas is among 20 states complying with the federal statute, even without requiring proof of legal residency to renew a driver’s license.

New Jersey: Appeals court orders more review of voting machines | Associated Press

A state appeals court on Monday upheld New Jersey’s use of electronic voting machines, but the judges expressed serious concerns about possible human error and ordered further review of the state’s safeguards. Monday’s ruling, which upheld a lower court decision, is the latest in a legal battle dating back to 2004 when state Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and others sued over the state’s use of the machines. The lawsuit claimed the touch-screen systems, called direct recording electronic voting machines, were unreliable because they didn’t produce a paper backup and were susceptible to hacking. Then-Gov. Jon Corzine signed legislation in 2005 that would have required all machines to be retrofitted with a paper backup system by January 2008, but that deadline wasn’t met and in 2009 lawmakers suspended it indefinitely over a lack of funding.

National: FEC Nominees Win Rules Committee Endorsement | The Center for Public Integrity

President Barack Obama’s two nominees to the Federal Election Commission — an agency rife with ideological discord and often gridlocked on key issues before it — today won unanimous approval from the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. The nominations of Republican Lee E. Goodman and Democrat Ann Ravel now move to the full Senate, which must confirm Goodman and Ravel before they’re appointed to the FEC. The Rules Committee had originally scheduled a nomination vote for Monday but delayed it because it failed to reach a quorum. “The Commission is designed to play a critical role in our campaign finance system,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Rules Committee chairman, said in a statement. “It is my hope that, once confirmed, Mr. Goodman and Ms. Ravel will work hard to restore the agency to a fully functioning independent federal watchdog for the nation’s campaign finance laws.”

National: Former FEC chairman Donald McGahn resigns from panel | The Washington Post

Donald F. McGahn, the controversial former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, resigned from the panel on Tuesday to return to private law practice, ending what campaign-finance reform advocates and political practitioners called one of the most consequential tenures in the commission’s 38-year history. McGahn, a Republican who had served on the FEC since 2008, clashed frequently with Democrats as he helped push a conservative interpretation of campaign-finance laws and persistent skepticism about government oversight of political campaigns. McGahn will leave to become a partner at Patton Boggs, which has one of Washington’s leading election law practices.

Editorials: A call for a right-to-vote amendment on Constitution Day | Janai S. Nelson/Reuters

Are today’s liberal politicians willing to go to the mat for a seemingly old-fashioned, civil-rights era throwback like the right to vote? If they care about preserving access to the franchise in the face of the many newfangled voting restrictions that conservatives are now aiming at minority, young or poor voters, they will. And, if they care about advancing the ideals of an inclusive American democracy, they must. When the members of the Constitutional Convention signed the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, the democracy we have now was unfathomable. Today, the right to vote is not determined by property ownership, skin color, gender or wealth — as it was legally at the birth of our Constitution and for many decades after.  What has remained constant during America’s democratic metamorphosis, however, is the absence of an affirmative right to vote. On this Constitution Day, I echo the call to amend our Constitution so that it includes an affirmative right to vote. Proposals to amend the Constitution to include an affirmative right to vote are usually taken most seriously at the time of general elections, especially for the presidency.  That’s when the public is most aware of the frailties of our democracy. However, as we celebrate the founding document that has served as a model for democracies the world over, we must consider how to fill its hollow areas.

Editorials: It’s Time To End Our Failed Affair With Campaign Finance Laws | Paul Sherman/Forbes

It’s an old cliché that appearances can be deceiving, but, in the upside-down world of campaign finance law, appearances are all that the government needs in order to criminalize peaceful political activity.  That’s because nearly 40 years ago, in the U.S. Supreme Court’s first major campaign finance decision, the Court held that such laws are justified as a means of avoiding even the mere “appearance” of corruption.  Since then, lower courts across the country have taken this principle and run with it, upholding limits and sometimes even outright bans on the financing of political speech based on only the flimsiest of evidence. That might be about to change.  Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court reconvenes this October, it will hear argument in McCutcheon v. FEC, a major challenge to federal campaign finance law.  And although the issue in the case is narrow, its repercussions could be widespread.

California: Campaign finance bills fare poorly in California Legislature | Los Angeles Times

After an anonymous $11-million donation from Arizona sent shock waves through California politics last year, the state Capitol seemed primed for new measures to tighten campaign finance rules. But several proposals fell by the wayside as lawmakers finished their work last week. Bills that would have increased the power of California’s campaign finance watchdog, boosted fines for violations and forced greater disclosure of donors — among other measures — stalled in the Legislature. Just one bill was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, SB 3, by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). It would require new training for campaign treasurers and mandate that officials study the possibility of replacing the state’s outdated website for tracking campaign finance information. Lawmakers said they would revisit the topic when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

Connecticut: In Bethel and elsewhere, minority parties knocked off ballot | NewsTimes

The CT Tea Party in Bethel is knocked off the ballot for the November election because of a filing technicality based on a two-year-old election law, leaving former First Selectman Robert Burke the option of running as a write-in candidate. In Westport, a local minority party lost its ballot line for the first time in 20 years. In Ridgefield, the local independent party line was bounced from the ballot because of the same law. However, Ridgefield’s and Westport’s cross-endorsed candidates will appear on the ballot. Local officials in recent days learned that minority parties in Middletown, Simsbury and Fairfield may have problems related to the 2011 law, which requires minority party candidates to sign certificates of endorsements filed with town clerks. Signatures are not required of Republicans and Democrats.

Editorials: Broken system – plan to move citizenship information from the Kansas Department of Revenue to election officials falls apart | Lawrence Journal World

So much for the “seamless” system of moving citizenship information from the Kansas Department of Revenue to Kansas election officials. The demise of the system touted by Secretary of State Kris Kobach when he pushed for passage of a law requiring new Kansas voters to provide proof of citizenship was confirmed in a recent interview in which Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan said Kansas no longer plans to require people obtaining or renewing driver’s licenses to produce proof they are living in the U.S. legally. If people voluntarily present birth certificates, passports or other citizenship documents when getting their licenses, that will be noted on their driver’ licenses, but the Revenue Department apparently will take no responsibility for gathering or forwarding that information to facilitate voter registration in the state. The federal “Motor Voter” law requires that people be allowed to register to vote when they get a driver’s license, but it includes no provision for proving citizenship. State officials originally had planned to require additional information on drivers licenses to conform to a 2005 federal anti-terrorism law. However, after learning recently that Kansas already complies with the federal law, the Revenue Department decided to shift its policy. The driver’s license offices have had problems of their own serving customers in a timely fashion, and, as Jordan noted, the primary purpose of those offices is to issue driver’s licenses, not collect voter registration data. “(P)eople are coming in for a driver’s license,” he said, “and we want to move them through.”

Kentucky: Senate Republican Leader Open to Giving Felon Voting Rights a Second Look | WFPL

A day after U.S. Sen. Rand Paul called on Republican lawmakers in the Kentucky General Assembly to give restoration of felon voting rights a second look, a prominent GOP state senator says the caucus might be open to the idea. Speaking at the Plymouth Community Renewal Center earlier this week, Paul said U.S. drug laws disproportionately effect racial minorities. One of the consequences, Paul said, is voter disenfranchisement for African-Americans. The senator told west Louisville residents he would lobby leaders in the Republican-controlled state Senate to seek a compromise on House Bill 70. The bill would automatically give certain felons their rights back and passed the state House in a bipartisan 72-25 vote. But it stalled in the state Senate this year.

Michigan: Canvassers in Detroit mayoral recount send some ballots to prosecutor, judge | Detroit Free Press

Six weeks after Detroiters cast their votes for mayor, City Council and clerk, ballots are still being examined, counted and analyzed as the Wayne County Board of Canvassers looks into allegations of fraud. The board spent Tuesday poring through ballots at Cobo Center and made some interesting discoveries. Among them: Some absentee ballots in which Mike Duggan’s name had been typed onto the ballot, some absentee ballots were cast using pencil, and some absentee ballots in which corrective fluid was used. The board voted to send the ballots that had Duggan’s name typed in to the Wayne County prosecutor and the chief judge at the Wayne County Circuit Court for investigation.

South Dakota: Gant forming task force on federal voting money; rights group calls it delay tactic | Associated Press

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant said he’s forming a task force to address whether federal Help America Vote Act funds can be used to open satellite registration and early voting offices on three Native American reservations. But the head of a Mission-based voting rights group is calling Gant’s move a delay tactic. “They don’t need a committee,” O.J. Semans, executive director of Four Directions Inc., said Tuesday. “He has the authority to do it.” The 2002 Help America Vote Act was passed by Congress to address voter access issues identified during the 2000 election. Poverty on South Dakota’s reservations and the long distances to polling places hamper Native Americans’ ability to vote, Semans said. Semans has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to look into the matter, and the American Civil Liberties Union and the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association support the request.

Texas: Hispanic group, NAACP join Texas Voter ID lawsuit | Associated Press

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the Texas NAACP filed a lawsuit Tuesday to overturn the state’s Voter ID law, joining the Justice Department in fighting the law. The two groups filed their petition with a federal court in Corpus Christi, the same court where other civil rights groups and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are fighting the requirement that voters must show a government-issued photo ID card to cast a ballot. All of the law’s opponents are arguing the Republican-controlled Legislature created an illegal barrier to voting for poor minorities and people who live in rural areas. Minorities make up the majority of voters who do not have one of the six forms of ID required. Only the Election Identification Certificate is available for free from the Department of Public Safety.

Guinea: Opposition Says Vote Needs to Be Delayed | Associated Press

Guinea’s opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo said on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the country’s legislative election can be held next week, citing flaws in the voter roll which he says will take too much time to fix. His critical assessment contrasts sharply with that of the United Nations special envoy to the region, who mediated a six-hour-long session Monday between the country’s warring opposition and ruling party, and who told reporters upon returning to Senegal that he remains confident the election will go ahead on Sept. 24. “The date of the election is still Sept. 24,” Said Djinnit said at his residence in the Senegalese capital. “As of today we are a few steps away from the election. Nothing permits me to say otherwise.” The U.N. has so far mediated 13 meetings between the two sides in an attempt to return the West African nation to constitutional rule. The country’s last parliamentary elections were held in 2002, and were first rescheduled in 2007. The repeated delays have spanned three presidents and have left the nation without a functioning legislature.

Rwanda: Kagame’s party scores landslide win in Rwanda | Reuters

Rwanda’s ruling party held onto power with a widely-expected landslide victory in parliamentary elections, provisional results showed on Tuesday, reinforcing President Paul Kagame’s grip on the country. The National Electoral Commission said Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had won 76.2 percent of the vote with all ballots counted. Final results are expected on Thursday. Two decades after the 1994 genocide, the east African country has become a favourite with foreign investors under Kagame’s leadership. The order book for Rwanda’s debut eurobond in April was 8.5 times the $400 million sought, underscoring steady economic growth. But Kagame’s opponents have accused him of cracking down on political opponents and restricting press freedoms – allegations he dismisses.

eSwatini: Anger At Pre-Election Arrest | allAfrica.com

Musa Dube, deputy general secretary of the Communist Party of Swaziland, has been remanded in custody on sedition charges for allegedly distributing leaflets calling for a boycott of the kingdom’s election. He is charged with two counts of possessing and distributing leaflets published by the CPS at Kakhoza in Manzini. He appeared in Manzini Magistrates’ Court on Monday and was remanded to Zakhele Remand Centre and is due to reappear on 25 September 2013, pending committal to the High Court. An application for bail is expected to be lodged.

Texas: Lawsuits pile up over Texas voter ID law | Facing South

This week the NAACP Texas State Conference and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of Texas state lawmakers filed a legal challenge to the state’s photo voter ID law. NAACP and MALC join the U.S. Department of Justice, the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund, the NAACP Legal and Educational Defense Fund, and U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat representing the Fort Worth area, who’ve collectively filed three other suits challenging the Texas law. As with the other challenges, NAACP and MALC claim the law violates Section Two of the Voting Rights Act, which forbids denying voting rights to people of color. All of the challenges want Texas “bailed in” under the VRA’s Section Three preclearance provision, which requires states or counties found to have engaged in intentional discrimination to get federal permission for new election laws before they take effect. The NAACP/MALC suit differs from most of the other cases in that it also argues that the photo voter ID law violates the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment equal protection clause banning racial discrimination. In addition, it claims the Texas law violates the 15th Amendment, which prohibits governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race.