The Senate on Monday confirmed President Barack Obama’s two nominees to the Federal Election Commission, giving the panel its first new members since the George W. Bush administration. Democrat Ann Ravel and Republican Lee Goodman were approved by unanimous consent in a brief voice vote on the Senate floor. The commission — a six-member panel that regulates political spending on campaigns and elections — has been operating with just five commissioners since the spring when chairwoman Cynthia Bauerly departed for the private sector. Last week, Bauerly’s successor as chair Donald McGahn also left the commission to return to practicing law at Patton Boggs.
National: In a new campaign funding case, the Supreme Court may lift a lid on the total the wealthy can give to all candidates and parties | Los Angeles Times
In what may be Act 2 in the decline and fall of campaign funding laws, the Supreme Court appears poised to lift the lid on the total amount the wealthy can give directly to all candidates and political parties. Increasingly, the money that funds election races for Congress and the presidency comes from a small sliver of the very rich, what the Sunlight Foundation called the “elite class that serves as gatekeepers of public office in the United States.” The nonpartisan group has tracked how a growing share of election money comes from the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans. In the first major case of its new term, the court could give those donors even more clout with lawmakers and their parties. The issue is whether federal limits, not on contributions to individual races but on how much a donor can give to all candidates for Congress or party committees in a particular election cycle, violate the right of free speech.
Americans will be able to register to vote when applying for insurance through Obamacare, a White House official told TPM Tuesday, despite reports to the contrary and outcry from congressional Republicans. Mother Jones reported earlier Tuesday on a report from progressive groups, which asserted that the Obama administration was planning to back down from its plan to offer voter registration on the federal marketplace, which will cover 36 states. The source of the claim is unclear, which the Mother Jones article acknowledged, but it sparked some panic among liberal activists. Not to worry, a senior administration official told TPM: Voter registration through the health insurance marketplaces will continue as planned. The official said any reports to the contrary were “inaccurate.” Insurance applications filed under the health care reform law are required by law to have a section for voter registration. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act mandates that any government agencies providing government services must also provide people with access to voter registration.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday he’ll move up the national convention, shorten the primary season and hand-pick debate hosts to improve the chances of a Republican winning the White House in 2016. “This is what we need to do to protect our party,” said Priebus, speaking to Michigan Republicans at the Grand Hotel. Before the dinnertime crowd, Priebus outlined his high profile effort to transform the primary calendar in wake of brutal and protracted primary season in 2012 that ended with a loss for GOP nominee and Michigan native Mitt Romney. Priebus wants to move the national convention from August to June. By choosing the nominee earlier, the candidate can spend general fund campaign dollars against the Democratic opponent well in advance of the November election.
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. A new state law allows people like Sergio Garcia, brought to the United States illegally as a child, to become licensed lawyers. 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.
The final results are in for the recall election of Senate President John Morse — and it was a squeaker. With additional ballots counted, it turns out that Morse lost by just 319 votes. With the deadline for receiving military and overseas ballots passed, all possible remaining legal votes in the Senate District 11 Recall Election have been collected and tabulated. The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office announces the official final result of the election as follows: The final results include an additional 76 ballots from military and overseas voters and 22 polling place provisional ballots that were counted after signatures were verified.
A federal judge Monday gave himself until Oct. 3 to decide whether to issue an injunction in a court fight over the planned move of a Duval County elections center.
“I understand the need to be prompt,” U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan said, but added, “I must be sure I have the right amount of time.”
DES MOINES — Two civil rights groups will proceed with their lawsuit challenging Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s authority to pass emergency voting rules in the months before an election.
It comes after a judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit over the weekend. Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg said in a ruling Saturday that since there is nothing to stop the secretary of state from attempting to pass voting rules again prior to an election, the court must hear the case and resolve the issues.
Michigan: Board dismisses dozens of Detroit mayoral primary ballot fraud complaints | The Detroit News
Detroit— The Wayne County Board of Canvassers on Monday shot down dozens of complaints by former Detroit mayor candidate Tom Barrow alleging ballots were fraudulently filled out at the August primary. Barrow questioned an estimated 40-50 ballots covering several districts. His accusations that the writing on many of the ballots matched prompted canvassers to hire a handwriting expert to compare 19 ballots. The results, which canvassers received Monday, showed it was “highly probable” different people filled out the ballots Barrow questioned. The findings prompted Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, the legal counsel for mayoral candidate and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan, to ask the canvassers to throw out all of the handwriting-related complaints from Barrow.
“We have a ruling by your expert,” Hollowell said to the board. “We should be allowed to rely on that expert.”
Michigan: Handwriting experts see differences in Detroit absentee ballots from August | Detroit Free Press
The Wayne County Board of Canvassers will continue going through challenged ballots today with hopes to wrap up a recount of the City of Detroit’s election before the week is out. At Monday’s board meeting, the findings of a handwriting expert hired by the board to examine ballots from the election was shared with the public. The expert, who was hired to check for similarity in handwriting, reportedly found “significant differences” in the writings examined, according to the board’s chairwoman. At least one challenger has said that some absentee ballots appear to have been been filled in by the same person. The expert, Robert D. Coleman with East Lansing consulting firm Speckin Forensic Laboratories, also said in his report to the board, dated Sunday, that he examined the writing for naturalness, formation of the words, pen lifts from the ballots and how hard the pen was pressed to paper when writing the response, among other things, said Chairwoman Carol Larkin. “My microscopic examinations of handwriting features of each entry on each of the 19 ballots and my side-by-side comparisons of like letters and letter conbinations between the 19 ballots revealed … there are a number of significant differences between the 19 ballots,” Larkin read from Coleman to the board.
Dallas County commissioners voted 4-1 along party lines Tuesday to spend up to $275,000 fighting the state’s controversial voter ID law. But how equitable that contribution is compared with the amounts other plaintiffs chip in may never be known. The county is one of 15 parties, including the U.S. attorney general’s office, suing Texas over its photo identification requirement. That means Dallas County residents’ local, state and federal taxes are being used on both sides of the legal battle. Tuesday’s legal contract with Brazil & Dunn was the first time the public caught a glimpse of the potential cost of the lawsuit since commissioners narrowly agreed to join it last month. Commissioner Mike Cantrell, the court’s lone Republican, cast the only vote against the legal contract. Democratic Commissioner Elba Garcia voted against the lawsuit in August because potential costs weren’t yet disclosed. But Garcia joined her fellow Democrats on Tuesday and voted to support spending the money. The county will pay up to $275,000 to cover legal expenses that Brazil & Dunn incurs in the suit. It will not have to pay for any legal fees, such as the hours attorneys spend working on the case. If the county and its co-plaintiffs win the lawsuit and their attorneys are awarded legal fees and expenses, the county can recoup its $275,000.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that the Justice Department will continue its efforts to protect voting rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision which gutted the Voting Rights Act earlier this summer. During remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus, Holder explained that the lawsuits filed to stop Texas’s discriminatory redistricting and voter ID laws are “just the beginning.” “Thanks to the hard work of our Civil Rights Division, we are continuing to refine and re-focus current enforcement efforts across the country,” he said. “And while the suits we’ve filed in Texas mark the first voting rights enforcement actions the Justice Department has taken since the Supreme Court ruling, they will not be the last.”
Officials begin a three-day period of testing Estonia’s e-election system today, and voters can also participate. The testing comes in light of the fact that the upcoming local government elections will be the first in which Internet voters will be able to verify that they have voted – a sort of electronic receipt, reported ETV. Those wishing to vote online, as has been possible in Estonia since 2005, must download the voting software and log in with their national ID card or mobile ID. Despite its reputation as an Estonian success story, e-voting has been a controversial issue that has been challenged by political opposition, claims of security vulnerabilities and an ensuing Supreme Court case.
Vote-counting is under way in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, following regional parliamentary elections on September 21. Officials have put the turnout at 73.9 percent in voting that transpired without major incident. One man was reported shot to death in the capital, Irbil, after polls closed. And Hiwa Mohammed, an election monitor in Irbil, told Reuters that difficulty with the voting procedure may have kept some residents from casting their vote
“Germany’s election process is quite transparent,” said Klaus Pötzsch of the electoral committee responsible for the organization and running of any federal or EU election in Germany. The committee is trying to make sure that nothing goes wrong. “For instance you could look at the situation in the polling stations. In each station we have eight to nine volunteers helping out.” Around 630,000 such volunteers will be at polling places for the federal elections on Sunday. Anyone 18 or older can volunteer, but local authorities might also recruit you to help – and you can only turn down their request if you have a very convincing reason. Before polling stations open, the volunteers will check to ensure ballot boxes are indeed empty. During the election they’ll make sure that everybody has an ID with them and can show the documents every citizen receives by mail proving that they are eligible to vote.
The Maldives Supreme Court has postponed the second round of the country’s presidential election, due to have taken place on Saturday. The court says a new run-off date will be set once it has ruled on the case. Qasim Ibrahim, who came in third in the first round of voting, asked the court last week to annul the results, alleging electoral fraud. Mohammed Nasheed, who was forced from office in an alleged coup last year, won 45% of the vote in the first round. Mr Nasheed, who won the first free election in the Maldives in 2008, needed more than 50% to avoid a run-off against his nearest rival, Abdulla Yameen, who got 25% of the vote. Mr Yameen is the half-brother of the Maldives’ former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who led the country for 30 years. “We order the Elections Commission and other relevant state institutions to delay the second round of the presidential election scheduled for 28 September 2013 until the Supreme Court issues a verdict in this case,” the court said.
A Moscow courthouse on Friday upheld the results of mayoral elections in which the Kremlin-backed incumbent narrowly avoided a run-off with opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Russian news outlets reported. The judge rejected Navalny’s claims that the campaign was marked by abuse of government finances and selected voter fraud, ruling that there were no grounds for a recount. Navalny’s success in the elections proved an embarrassment to his Kremlin-backed opponent, incumbent Sergei Sobyanin. Sobyanin got 51 percent of the vote, just avoiding the 50 percent cut-off that would have forced him into a second round against Navalny. Independent election monitor Golos also criticized the election result, saying that there had been no evidence of widespread vote-rigging but that isolated violations could have tipped the close election. Also Friday, another court that Navalny’s appeals trial will begin on Oct. 9. Navalny was sentenced in July to five years in prison for embezzlement in a case that he and his supporters describe as legally dubious and a punishment for his exposure of high-level corruption.