Editorials: Why Germany’s Politics Are Much Saner, Cheaper, and Nicer Than Ours | Olga Khazan/The Atlantic

It’s the day before the German election, and Stefan Liebich, a member of the Bundestag for the far-left Die Linke party, is standing on the sidewalk at a busy intersection, smiling and shaking hands. He has a boombox and an assistant who fills up crimson balloons that say “Really Red” — to differentiate them from the slightly-less-red balloons being inflated by their rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD), who have a similar setup just a few feet away. He’s in peak campaigning mode, yet he takes a 45-minute break to talk to a group of foreign journalists, including me, who can’t vote and don’t speak German. Liebich’s casual arrangement seems fitting for someone running for, say, student council in the U.S., but he’s actually just a few thousand votes from losing his seat in parliament if Die Linke doesn’t garner a large enough percentage in the upcoming election. He says he is “excited” to see whether or not he makes it in. It may seem barebones, but this is a typical last-day campaign event for a parliamentarian in Germany, where campaigns get government funding, parties are allocated TV advertising time, and microtargeting of voters is unthinkable.

National: Justices to Weigh Key Limit on Political Donors | New York Times

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision reshaped American politics by striking down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But it did nothing to disturb the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on individuals’ direct contributions to candidates. Shaun McCutcheon wants to change that. He has built a thriving engineering firm here, and he wants to give some of the money he makes to conservative political candidates. But a federal law limits the overall amount he can contribute to all candidates in an election cycle, and that does not sit right with him. “I think we need to spend more money on politics, not less,” he said. “I think we need to improve it.” The Supreme Court will hear his challenge to the overall limits next Tuesday. Some critics of Citizens United say the new case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, has the potential to destroy what is left of federal campaign finance regulation.

National: Government shutdown shrinks FEC to just four employees | Center for Public Integrity

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub isn’t required to stay home today in the midst of a government shutdown. But there’s hardly a point to her visiting the agency’s office at 999 E. St. NW in downtown Washington, D.C. “I’d literally be the one turning the lights on,” said Weintraub, one of just four FEC employees among 339 the government has deemed “essential” during the shutdown. “My entire staff has been furloughed, so working — it’s what I can do on my own, along with my three colleagues on the commission.” And that’s not much. Phone calls to agency workers ring to voicemails, emails go unreturned and audits and enforcement cases and investigations are on ice until further notice. As Tuesday afternoon arrived, the FEC also appeared to stop uploading documents for public consumption, from candidate income and expenditure reports to notifications of political action committee formations.

Editorials: Voter suppression? – States move to tighten rules | Columbia Daily Tribune

The expected is happening. After the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed a key provision in the Voting Rights Act, a number of GOP-led states quickly moved to restrict access to the polls by passing or strengthening voter identification laws. Critics say the new rules disproportionately affect minorities, including the elderly. Supporters say they are protecting the integrity of elections against fraud. On paper, both are legitimate goals, but as staked out in this debate, both can’t coexist legally. It’s a job for federal courts. If I had judicial authority, based on what I know now the decision would be easy. The new rules in Texas and North Carolina and Florida are an unconstitutional interference with voting rights.

Editorials: How to save money and reduce rancor in campaigns | Krist Novoselic/Salon.com

While Bill de Blasio’s win in the Democratic contest for mayor was the big story out of New York on election day earlier this month, there were other national implications: one of our greatest cities showcased why it’s time to leave 19th century democracy behind. Election officials had to haul old lever machines out of storage, with highly predictable troubles involving broken machines and frustrated voters. In an equally outdated voting rule, voters could only indicate support for one candidate in each race, rather than rank them in order of preference — meaning that instead of a primary winner being determined on election day, there now needs to be an additional run-off election held in the city a few weeks later. When you can only choose one person in a multi-candidate field, the candidate with the most votes can earn well under 50 percent. (On Tuesday, Boston had a mayoral race in which the top vote-getter had just 18 percent; that city will have a runoff between the top two finishers.)

California: Palmdale elections halted as a result of California Voting Rights Act lawsuit | SCV Signal

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled this week that Palmdale cannot hold its scheduled citywide elections in November. The decision was made on a ruling he handed down earlier this year that those same elections are a violation of the California Voting Rights Act. Judge Mark Mooney granted a preliminary injunction against the planned City Council elections on Nov. 5. The injunction was sought by the plaintiffs in the case after Mooney ruled Palmdale’s at-large voting system — wherein voters can cast ballots for all seats up for election, not just one within a single district — prevented minority voters from electing candidates of their choice. Doing so is a violation of the California Voting Rights Act, Mooney ruled.

Michigan: Wayne County judge schedules hearing on Detroit’s absentee ballots | The Detroit News

City Clerk Janice Winfrey must appear in court Wednesday to respond to allegations that absentee ballots for the November election have been printed and distributed without the approval of the city’s election commission. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Fresard entered an order late Tuesday requiring Winfrey to appear for a 9 a.m. show-cause hearing to answer questions under oath about the printing and distribution of the ballots, union activist Robert Davis said. Davis, of Citizens United Against Corrupt Government, along with D’Etta Wilcoxon, who is Winfrey’s challenger for city clerk in the Nov. 5 election, asked the judge for a temporary restraining order on claims the ballots that Winfrey is sending out to absentee voters ballots that are “unlawful and illegal” and have not been approved by the city’s election commission, as called for under state election law. Davis said the absentee ballots were distributed after the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified the election on Thursday.

North Carolina: Cooper, McCrory disagree about defending lawsuit over voter ID | abc11.com

A war of words between Gov. Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper is heating up over the lawsuit over voter laws. The two disagree on how to respond to Monday’s lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice to block the state’s tough new voter laws. Cooper calls the governor’s decision to hire an outside attorney to defend the state a waste of money. He told reporters Tuesday that he may not personally agree with the new voter laws, but his office is more than capable of defending them. “There are laws that I have disagreed with personally that our staff have defended successfully,” said Cooper. McCrory will not allow the attorney general’s office alone to defend the state against the federal lawsuit to block North Carolina’s new Republican-backed voting laws.

North Carolina: Voter law intentionally discriminates, Holder says | The State

The U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s controversial voter ID law is the Obama administration’s latest forceful response to a Supreme Court decision that critics say gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. By claiming North Carolina legislators “intentionally” discriminated against minorities, the administration has taken up another fight with a Southern state over its voting laws. “We cannot, we must not, and we will not simply stand by as the voices of those disproportionately affected by some of the proposals we’ve seen – including the North Carolina minority communities impacted by the provisions we challenge today – are shut out of the process of self-governance,” Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday.

Pennsylvania: Support grows for PA online voter registration | Philadelphia Inquirer

The fall session will see a renewed push to make Pennsylvania’s election laws more technologically friendly. Senate Bill 37, sponsored by Sen. Llyod Smucker, R-Lancaster, would create an online system to register to vote in Pennsylvania. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate this spring, but it’s stalled in the House State Government Committee, where it hasn’t been taken up for a vote. Smucker called for action on the bill Tuesday morning in the Capitol rotunda, surrounded by two dozen citizens and advocates for the cause organized by the Day of Action for PA Voters. “There’s every reason to do this and to do it now,” he said. Smucker said he wished the bill could’ve passed in time for this fall, but there’s still plenty of time to approve it for next November. Smucker said online voting opens up the eligible pool of voters without being partial to party affiliation.

Canada: Timmins Ontario Council approves online voting | Timmins Press

Timmins residents will be able to vote online in the 2014 municipal elections. Voting from the comfort of one’s own home will be added to the usual in-person, ballot-box method. The move was approved on Monday in a 5-4 vote at city council. With the city needing to replace old vote tabulation machines, council entered into an agreement with Dominion Voting on a contract to provide both new machines and online voting capabilities. Some councillors took issue with the lack of evidence that online voting increases the number of ballots in an election. … Coun. Gary Scripnick did a little quick math to support his opinion that online voting isn’t worth the cost for the city. “If 10% of the people out there, for whatever reason, being away at school, being disabled or not wanting to vote, decided to vote online, that means every vote would cost $30 that would be done online,” suggested Scripnick. “If somebody wants to vote, they will find a way to get to the voting station.”

Guinea: Fraud complaint ‘must wait for final tally’ | Fox News

Guinea’s electoral commission said on Tuesday it would not consider accusations of electoral fraud by the country’s main opposition until a final tally of votes cast on September 28 was finished. “If they (the opposition parties) have results they want to contest, we don’t know anything about it,” said the commission’s top lawyer, Amadou Kebe. “Once we have the votes and they are confirmed by (the commission), only then can we deal with complaints,” Kebe said. An opposition spokesman said Monday it had “alarming reports” of votes being counted multiple times in southern Guinea, overseen by the army, and of “parallel commissions” being set up to falsify voting tallies from polling stations in the cities of Kankan and Siguiri.

Guinea: Election result delayed, opposition warns against rigging | Reuters

Guinea’s electoral commission said on Tuesday results from a weekend legislative election could take days longer than expected to publish, prompting opposition leaders to warn they would not accept any attempt to rig the outcome. Voters turned out on Saturday after months of political haggling and violent protests for the poll – touted as the completion of the mineral-rich West African country’s transition to democracy after a 2008 coup. A spokesman for the national electoral commission (CENI) had originally suggested provisional results would be ready on Tuesday, 72 hours after the long-delayed legislative election. However, CENI Vice President El Hadji Ibrahim Kalil Keita said on Tuesday the commission had until within 72 hours of the arrival of the last voting sheets from polling stations to announce a result. With sheets trickling in from some 12,000 sites across the country, that could take several days.

Hungary: Change Discriminatory Voting Laws | Human Rights Watch

A landmark ruling by a United Nations body found that Hungary’s voting laws are disenfranchising people with disabilities, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling applies to all 137 countries that have adopted the international disability rights treaty. These governments are required to review their laws and practices to eliminate any provisions that prevent people from voting due to their disabilities. The UN Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities, the panel of experts who interpret the international disability rights treaty, ruled that Hungary’s restriction on the right for people with intellectual disabilities to vote violates international human rights law. Under the recently amended Hungarian constitution, people under guardianship are automatically excluded from voting unless a judge determines they have the capacity to vote.   The ruling said that any exclusion of the right to vote on the basis of “perceived or actual disability,” whether as a general rule or following an individual assessment, was discrimination in violation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Instead it said governments were under a duty to ensure all people with disabilities could exercise their right to vote, including in the way they design voting procedures and in providing assistance where necessary.

Italy: President hopes to solve political crisis without new vote | Reuters

Silvio Berlusconi on Monday faced dissent within his People of Freedom Party, complicating his plans to bring down Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s coalition government. But even if Letta survives a confidence vote on Wednesday the prospects for stability and reform in Italy look more fragile than ever as he will face a larger and stronger opposition backed by Berlusconi’s media empire. Letta’s hopes of survival appear to rest on some 20 senators from Berlusconi’s party, who are unhappy with his shock decision on Saturday to withdraw his ministers from Letta’s government. Italian shares and bonds recovered some of their losses on financial markets after a party source told Reuters the group of PDL moderates may be ready to back the government and break away from the PDL if Berlusconi does not soften his stance. However, whether the dissidents are actually prepared to back Letta remains to be seen. They did not speak out at a PDL meeting on Monday where Berlusconi called for unity, repeated that the party must push for early elections and did not open any internal debate, according to lawmakers present.