Arizona: Clean Election Commission asks court to overturn judge’s ruling – quickly | The Verde Independent

Saying a quick answer is needed, the Citizens Clean Election Commission asked the Court of Appeals on Wednesday to overturn a trial judge’s decision allowing candidates to take a lot more money from political supporters. Tom Collins, the commission’s executive director, said his board believes the judge erred in concluding that lawmakers are free to reset the donation limits to whatever they want. The commission believes those limits are linked to the parallel public funding system, which, by virtue of being enacted by voters, is protected from legislative tinkering. Potentially more significant, Collins said last week’s ruling by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain allowed candidates for legislative office to immediately start accepting up to $4,000 from individual donors and political action committees. The old limits — the one Collins is trying to have restored — cap that at $440.

Arkansas: Panel approves rules for voter ID law | Associated Press

Arkansas’ top elections panel on Wednesday approved guidelines for how poll workers should enforce the state’s new voter ID law when it takes effect next year, after it removed a proposal that one member warned could lead to political favoritism. The state Board of Election Commissioners unanimously approved the rules, which closely mirror those outlined in the law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in April despite Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto. Before approving the new guidelines, the panel voted to remove a provision that would have allowed poll supervisors to settle disputes when voters don’t resemble their ID photos. Board member Stu Soffer, who called for the provision’s removal, said the voter ID law didn’t give them the authority to include that step in the rules. He said the voter could cast a provisional ballot even if their identity is challenged, and the final decision could be made by the county election commission.

California: New rules aim for transparency in online campaign material | Los Angeles Times

Under new rules approved Thursday, the state hopes to help Californians determine whether political material they read online is a writer’s own opinion or propaganda paid for by a campaign. Campaigns will now have to report when they pay people to post praise or criticism of candidates and ballot measures on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other websites. “The public is entitled to know who is paying for campaigns and campaign opinions,” so voters can better evaluate what they see on blogs and elsewhere online, said Ann Ravel, who chairs the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Open-government groups endorsed the new rules, which govern “favorable or unfavorable” content — although much of the time that information may come weeks or even months after publication. Bloggers and some others say the rules infringe on free speech. The regulations require disclosure by campaigns that pay someone $500 or more to post positive or negative content on Internet sites not run by the campaigns. In periodic spending reports required by the state, the campaigns would have to identify who was paid, how much and to which website or URL the posting was made.

Florida: State wants to scrub voter rolls again | Highlands Today

Ken Detzner wants to counties to purge voter rolls again. After last year’s fuss, however, Florida’s secretary of state is touring the state to explain Project Integrity. Penny Ogg will listen, but Highlands County’s elections supervisor isn’t convinced another state-led purge is necessary. “Through transparency and the statutory due-process protection afforded to every voter, we can ensure the continued integrity of our voter rolls while protecting the voting rights of eligible voters from those who may cast an illegal vote,” Detzner said in a press release last week. “I am going to the roundtable discussion with Secretary Detzner in Orlando on Oct. 7,” Ogg said. “After that meeting, we hope to have better information regarding this issue since we, as supervisors, have not been given details of how they plan to roll out this new phase.” More meetings are scheduled in Panama City, Jacksonville, Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale. Nearly all the 67 elections supervisors scrapped last year’s purge – requested by Gov. Rick Scott – after they discovered the majority of 2,600 voters flagged by Detzner’s office were eligible. Most were minorities or had Hispanic-sounding surnames. Last year’s Florida crossmatched dataset included the names of naturalized citizens and even some who were born in the U.S.

Michigan: Cost of recounts soars in legislation passed by Michigan House | Detroit Free Press

Asking for a recount of an election could get a whole lot more expensive under a bill passed by the state House of Representatives on Thursday. Currently, a candidate requesting a recount must pay $10 per precinct to get a recount underway. Under the bill passed Thursday on a 95-9 vote, that amount would increase to $25 per precinct. And for candidates who lost by more than 50 votes, it would cost them $125 per precinct if they asked for a recount. The bill was drafted long before the election mess in Detroit, where the votes have been counted multiple times by city, county and state officials.

Ohio: Counties cutting back on polling locations | The Columbus Dispatch

The head of the Licking County Board of Elections knows she’s in for a bumpy November after nearly half of the county’s voting locations were eliminated. “People are going to be upset, and I understand that,” said Director Sue Penick. “But we’re playing with their money and trying to ultimately be fiscally responsible with it. Hopefully, we’ve done that.” Most central Ohio counties have streamlined their precincts in recent years, and Licking County became the latest by announcing on Tuesday that it is eliminating 30 precincts and more than 20 polling locations. The move is expected to save about $20,000. Licking County will go from 125 precincts to 95, and consolidate 47 voting locations into 24 or 26 for the November election. The impetus, besides cost-cutting, was efficiency, Penick said. Seven precincts that served villages with fewer than 200 voters were consolidated into locations that now will serve a village/township split.

Wisconsin: Advocates quietly challenging voter ID law | Florida Courier

The first legal challenge to an elections law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), since the United States Supreme Court shot down preclearance protections under Section 5 of the VRA in June, is under way with little to no fanfare.  On Nov. 4, 2013, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman will hear a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter identification law brought by Advancement Project, a civil rights advocacy group, and pro bono counsel Arnold & Porter. In 2011, the state’s Republican-led legislature passed a law that would require voters to present a government-issued ID in order to cast a ballot in local, state and federal elections. The new measure would have counted Wisconsin among nearly three-dozen states with voter ID laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Germany: The SPD election campaign: Getting out lost voters | Policy Network

The Länder election that took place in Bavaria, Germany´s second biggest state, last Sunday added flavour to what was previously a dull election campaign on federal level. According to Allensbach Institute, the share of people talking with others about the election rose from 29% to 49% recently. While the Christian Social Union (CSU) – sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – came out on top, chancellor Angela Merkel´s coalition partners the Free Democratic Party (FDP), who had also been part of the governing coalition in Bavaria, received only 3.3% of the votes, thus clearly failing to get over the 5% threshold that dictates whether a party can enter parliament. The liberals now fear they could miss entering the federal parliament next Sunday too. This would make Merkel´s “dream coalition” history. The liberals immediately started to aggressively beg for conservative voters to step in and help them. If successful, this strategy would take voters from the CDU/CSU. Indeed, at the Länder election in Lower-Saxony in January, “pity votes” for the FDP prevented a victory for the CDU. Only 8.6% of Bavarians voted for the Greens on Sunday, which is in line with the negative trend in the polls on the federal level that is lowering the prospects for a Red-Green coalition government. Even the “Free Voters of Bavaria” superseded the Greens – a local organised party with a strong base in Bavaria which plays no role on federal level. It will be interesting to see where the votes for the Free Voters move to next Sunday.

Guinea: Guinea opposition leader seeks poll delay, threatens protests | The Star Online

Guinea’s main opposition leader on Thursday threatened to call supporters onto the streets if authorities push ahead with a parliamentary election due on Tuesday without fully addressing complaints over preparations. Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of the largest opposition party and arch rival of President Alpha Conde, said it would be impossible to fix problems linked to voter lists and polling stations on time so a delay of a few weeks was needed. The poll, meant to cap Guinea’s transition back to civilian rule, has been repeatedly delayed since Conde was elected three years ago, sowing doubts amongst Guineans, investors and donors over political progress in the world’s top bauxite exporter. Dozens of people were killed in protests during months of wrangling over the election earlier this year.

Iraq: Kurds vote for first time in Kurdistan in more than four years | Middle East Online

Iraq’s Kurdish region goes to the polls on Saturday, grappling with a swathe of disputes with the central government while fellow Kurds fight bloody battles across the border in Syria. The legislative election also comes amid questions over the future of the Kurdish nation, spread across historically hostile countries that have more recently either shown a willingness to discuss Kurdish demands, or have suffered instability, allowing Kurds to carve out their own territory. The September 21 vote is the first to be held in Kurdistan, a three-province autonomous region in north Iraq, in more than four years. It will see three main parties jostle for position in the Kurdish parliament, with long-term implications both domestically and farther afield. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional president Massud Barzani is widely expected to garner the largest number of seats.

Maldives: Supreme Court orders Elections Commission to hand over original voter list | Minivan News

The Supreme Court has ordered the Elections Commission (EC) to hand over the original voter lists of all ballot boxes placed during the recent first round of Presidential Elections held on September 7. A Supreme Court battle between the EC and Jumhooree Party (JP) ensued this week after the latter announced its decision to dismiss the outcome of the presidential poll after narrowly missing out a place in the run-off election with 24.07 percent of the vote. The party accused the EC of electoral discrepancies and irregularities that altered the results of the poll to the JP’s disadvantage.

eSwatini: Voting in a ‘monarchical democracy’ | Al Jazeera

Voters in the tiny mountain kingdom of Swaziland are voting to elect a new parliament in an election dismissed by critics as a rubber stamp for King Mswati III’s absolute rule. About 415,000 of the country’s 1.2 million citizens are registered to cast their ballots for 55 parliamentarians on Friday. However, of the 65 seats in the parliament, 10 are allocated by the king when he selects his cabinet and prime minister. Political parties are not formally banned, but are restricted, and the  country remains sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Election candidates are hand-picked locally by traditional chiefs, who are loyal to the king. Mswati holds ultimate sway over the government: he can veto new laws, dissolve parliament and may not be sued or charged.  Opposition groups including the banned Pudemo party and South Africa-based Swaziland Solidarity Network have called for a boycott of the poll. The king recently described the system as a “monarchical democracy”.

California: State Gives Expanded Rights to Noncitizens | New York Times

California is challenging the historic status of American citizenship with measures to permit noncitizens to sit on juries and monitor polls for elections in which they cannot vote and to open the practice of law even to those here illegally. It is the leading edge of a national trend that includes granting drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition to illegal immigrants in some states and that suggests legal residency could evolve into an appealing option should immigration legislation fail to produce a path to citizenship. With 3.5 million noncitizens who are legal permanent residents in California, some view the changes as an acknowledgment of who is living here and the need to require some public service of them. But the new laws raise profound questions about which rights and responsibilities rightly belong to citizens over residents. “What is more basic to our society than being able to judge your fellow citizens?” asked Jessica A. Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, referring to jury service. “We’re absolutely going to the bedrock of things here and stretching what we used to think of as limits.”