National: McCutcheon v. FEC’s Other Threat: Case Could Super-Size Joint Fundraising Committees | Huffington Post

The joint fundraising committee may join the super PAC and the “dark money” nonprofit as the new face of big money in politics if the Supreme Court decides to unravel key contribution limits in an upcoming case. A decision in favor of Shaun McCutcheon, the lead plaintiff in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, to be argued Oct. 8, could vastly increase the joint fundraising committee’s cash-gathering capacity. The justices will decide in McCutcheon whether the aggregate federal campaign contribution limits — $123,200 for a single donor in the 2014 election cycle — place an unconstitutional burden on a donor’s rights to free speech and association. In the absence of the aggregate limit, individual donors could donate to as many candidates, political party committees and political action committees as they saw fit.

National: McCutcheon Super PAC Already Busts Limits | Roll Call

An Alabama businessman whose challenge to campaign contribution limits goes before the Supreme Court on Tuesday has already spent well beyond the current limit through an unrestricted super PAC, public records show. Shaun McCutcheon, a conservative activist who runs an Alabama electrical engineering firm, argues in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission that the $123,200 limit on how much he may give to candidates, political action committees and parties per election cycle stifles his free speech and does nothing to curb corruption. But in the 2012 elections, McCutcheon spent close to three times that limit — about $300,000 — supporting his favorite candidates through his personal PAC. McCutcheon set up the Conservative Action Fund PAC in 2010 as “a good way to do political advertising” and “a way to raise money from other donors,” he said. McCutcheon’s ability to spend hundreds of thousands beyond the aggregate contribution limit, even under the current rules, illustrates how wide-open the campaign finance system has already become. The question now is whether the high court will deregulate elections even further.

Editorials: Roberts: The ‘swing’ justice of election law | Joshua A. Douglas/Reuters

Tuesday’s oral argument in McCutcheon v. FEC, the latest high-profile campaign finance case, will likely generate familiar storylines about a fiercely ideological Supreme Court, where one justice drives the outcome of a close 5-4 decision. Public perception of the Supreme Court is that there are four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy in the middle — as the “swing” vote. But that’s wrong — at least where voting rights and campaign finance cases are concerned. Though Kennedy’s vote dictates some outcomes when the court is split 5-4 along ideological lines, another justice has been the driving force behind current election law jurisprudence. In this matter, it is truly Chief Justice John Roberts’s court. Since Roberts became chief justice in 2005, the court has issued 23 written opinions involving voting rights, redistricting or campaign finance. Roberts is the only justice who has been in the majority every time. In addition, he has written twice as many majority opinions in this field as any other justice — six, as compared to Kennedy’s three. Roberts has now written more than 25 percent of the election law decisions handed down since he joined the court.

Editorials: The Hidden Danger in the Supreme Court’s ‘McCutcheon’ Case | Lee Fang/The Nation

If the Supreme Court moves to strike down certain campaign finance limits this term, as many expect the Roberts Court will do, could the conservative majority also pave the way for dismantling a whole host of anti-bribery and campaign finance laws across the country? This week, when the court convenes for its new term, justices will hear oral arguments for McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case that challenges the aggregate contribution limits from individuals to traditional political committees. Conservative legal strategists, including one of the groups that successfully propelled the original Citizens United decision, would like to use the McCutcheon case to go beyond the issue at hand. Just as Citizens United morphed from a case about restrictions on corporate-funded campaign movies into a decision that removed limits on all corporate and union spending on campaign expenditures, right-wing attorneys are hoping to harness McCutcheon to redefine how the government regulates multiple forms of corruption. If the conservative legal groups are successful, the ramifications could be widespread.

Editorials: How Prisons Have Changed America’s Electoral Politics | Heather Ann Thompson/The Atlantic

What has it really cost the United States to build the world’s most massive prison system? To answer this question, some point to the nearly two million people who are now locked up in an American prison—overwhelmingly this nation’s poorest, most mentally ill, and least-educated citizens—and ponder the moral costs. Others have pointed to the enormous expense of having more than seven million Americans under some form of correctional supervision and argued that the system is not economically sustainable. Still others highlight the high price that our nation’s already most-fragile communities, in particular, have paid for the rise of such an enormous carceral state. A few have also asked Americans to consider what it means for the future of our society that our system of punishment is so deeply racialized.

Voting Blogs: On the Eve of Argument: The Trouble with the Court’s Contributions Jurisprudence | More Soft Money Hard Law

It is assumed that if the Court in McCutcheon revises the standard of review for contributions, it will do so to overthrow Buckley and to bring the standards for contributions and expenditures into alignment. Certainly this is a possibility, and it is the outcome being urged by Senator McConnell and dreaded by prominent voices in the reform community. Of course, the Court has other choices. Depending how it goes about the task, the Court could improve on the Buckley jurisprudence without destroying altogether the contribution/expenditure distinction. The Court’s treatment of contributions and expenditures does not have to be same in order for the approach to contributions to be better—more rigorous in construction and more convincing in application—than it is today.

Arizona: State to have two-track voting system | AZ Central

Arizona elections officials are preparing to use a dual-track voting system in next year’s elections that would require the use of two different ballots, depending on how a voter was registered. Under the system, voters who registered with federal registration forms would be allowed to vote only in federal elections, while those who used state forms and showed proof of citizenship would be allowed to vote in federal, state and local contests. The move is expected to affect 900 people and cost an extra $250,000 in Maricopa County alone. The shift, triggered by an opinion Monday from state Attorney General Tom Horne, was immediately labeled as a restriction on voting rights. But Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett said the move is necessary to comply with an Arizona voter mandate as well as federal law. The new procedure singles out the several thousand Arizonans who registered to vote using the federal registration form, which does not require documents to prove U.S. citizenship. Those voters are eligible to vote only in federal elections, Horne wrote, with the next opportunity being in August, when all nine congressional seats are on the ballot.

Arizona: State to Trim Voting If Citizenship Proof Lacking | Associated Press

Arizona officials will seek to ban residents from voting in statewide races if they can’t prove citizenship — a move that critics called vindictive in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the state couldn’t require such documentation to cast ballots for federal offices. The change was announced Monday by Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, both Republicans. “Because Arizona law requires a registration applicant to provide evidence of citizenship, registrants who have not provided sufficient evidence of citizenship should not be permitted to vote in state and local elections,” Horne wrote in an opinion that was intended to give guidance on how to conduct the 2014 elections. The Supreme Court in June struck down part of a 2004 voter-approved state law that required proof of legal U.S. residency to vote in any Arizona elections.

Florida: A new push to purge Florida voter rolls | Herald Tribune

Florida’s latest effort to purge noncitizens from the voting rolls comes to Sarasota today. Secretary of State Ken Detzner will meet with area elections supervisors and local citizens to talk about “Project Integrity,” which is aimed at identifying and removing ineligible voters from the rolls. The two-hour meeting will be hosted by Sarasota Elections Supervisor Kathy Dent. Project Integrity follows a controversial effort by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls before the 2012 elections. But that move was widely condemned and proved highly ineffective.

Editorials: Why Florida’s renewed purge effort should stop | Tallahassee Democrat

The United States prides itself for its egalitarian democracy, a democracy inwhich the weight of one’s vote is the same whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, and regardless of race. No right is more fundamental to American citizenship than the right to vote. Yet if voting is a right for all eligible citizens, then it should not have to be earned, and re-earned, over and over again. This is exactly what Florida risks, however, with Gov. Rick Scott’s renewed call for categorically removing alleged noncitizens from its voter rolls. Secretary of State Ken Detzner is creating a new list of suspected noncitizen voters by cross-checking the Department of Homeland Security System Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) database with the state voter data. Given the long lines of citizens waiting to vote, Florida officials should know by now that voting is taken very seriously here. Yet this renewed call for another purge of alleged noncitizens shows the rest of the country that Florida is where rights become privileges.

Minnesota: GOP leaders call for probe of new online voter registration tool | Politics in Minnesota

Top Republican leaders want the state’s legislative auditor to examine a move from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to allow online voter registration in Minnesota. In a letter sent to Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles‘ office on Monday, GOP minority leaders Kurt Daudt and David Hann, along with Republican election committee leads Rep. Tim Sanders and Sen. Scott Newman, said Ritchie “unilaterally” started the program without vetting the proposal in committee hearings. The program allows new voters to register online or returning voters to update their information.

Mississippi: Groups say Mississippi needs lessons on fair voting laws | The Advertiser

Voting rights advocates say there’s a message for Mississippi in lawsuits the Justice Department has filed over the last two months to block voting-law changes in Texas and North Carolina. The suits claim the changes, including new voter ID laws, would suppress the minority vote. Mississippi is moving ahead with its own voter ID law, and voting rights advocates say the recent legal actions by the Justice Department should put the state on notice that it may be next. “The battle in North Carolina, Texas, they’re not just state fights,” said William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP. “They are state battles that have national implications. If you don’t stop it here, it has the potential like a virus to spread across the country.”

Montana: Northern Cheyenne reservation fighting to secure voting rights |

Mark Wandering Medicine has sacrificed more than most for his country. He served six years in the US marines, fought through the bloodiest years of the Vietnam war and almost lost a leg when his scouting unit was ambushed near the North Vietnamese border in 1972. Since he returned home to the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana, however, he has received scant thanks for his service. He spent 13 years battling government bureaucrats before receiving his first disability payment. Like many Native Americans raised on desperately poor reservations in remote parts of the country, he has never lived far from the poverty line. Now he is fighting once more, this time to overcome a century and a half of disenfranchisement and secure voting rights for his fellow Native Americans. He has barely voted over the past 40 years, not because he hasn’t wanted to but because it is too difficult. The only sure way to register to vote, he says, is to make a 157-mile round trip from his home to the nearest county seat. There is no public transport, and most people can’t afford the trip – even assuming they have a working car with valid license plates and insurance, which is rarely the case. The few who do make the journey have to run a gamut of racism and hostility that, they say, can often land them in jail on charges of drunkenness and public disorder.

Ohio: Libertarians, ACLU team up to oppose “The John Kasich Re-election Protection Act” | Columbus Dispatch

Last week it appeared as if Sen. Bill Seitz and the Libertarian Party of Ohio were on the verge of a deal that would garner the party’s backing for a bill from the Cincinnati Republican revamping state law on minor political parties. But this afternoon the party issued a release saying it and the ACLU – brought on board earlier today — would be testifying against the measure Tuesday during a hearing of Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. The Libertarians dubbed the bill “the John Kasich Re-election Protection Act.” “This is machine-style politics at its very worst,” said party Chair Kevin Knedler in the release. He noted the bill was introduced on the same day Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl kicked off his campaign last month. “Kasich has stabbed fiscal conservatives, tea party activists, and libertarian Republicans in the back several times, and he’s scared to death he’ll be out of a job when they exercise their democratic right to vote for a candidate they can trust to do what’s right for Ohio.”

Virginia: Thousands stricken from voter rolls ahead of vote |

Ebony Wright, a 37-year-old paralegal from Suffolk, has voted in the past three Virginia general elections and in two Democratic primaries. Yet on Sept. 27, Suffolk Registrar Susan Saunders sent Wright a letter saying her name had been stricken from the voting rolls because she’d moved to another state. Wright’s was one of 57,293 names on a list sent by the state Board of Elections to voter registrars across Virginia 10 weeks before the Nov. 5 election for governor, House of Delegates and city offices. State officials told registrars that simply being on the list was sufficient grounds for removal from the voting rolls. But they added that as a safeguard, registrars should carefully examine voting history and other information to make sure that the voter in question hadn’t returned to Virginia. In a lawsuit filed last week, the Virginia Democratic Party claims that the list is riddled with errors – that thousands of people on it live in Virginia and are legally entitled to vote here. The party also claims that the state failed to set uniform standards for how to handle people on the list, so local election officials are using widely different practices in deciding who to remove and what to do if they show up at the polls in November. The party holds up Wright as a prime example of the problem.

Azerbaijan: Ready for presidential elections | AzerNews

Azerbaijan is on the threshold of an important and historic event. Azerbaijani citizens will go the polls on October 9 to elect their president for a five-year term through general, direct and equal elections, by free, private and secret voting. The election campaigning of the presidential candidates will end on October 8, 24 hours before the polling starts at 08:00 on election day. The Central Election Commission (CEC) is taking a number of important steps to improve the election system and ensure the conduct of democratic, transparent, free and fair elections in Azerbaijan. It has installed web cameras in 1,000 polling stations across the country. Some countries require registration to obtain permission to follow the voting process through web cameras. But there are no restrictions in Azerbaijan in this regard. Any citizens will be able to follow the voting process online by accessing the following websites:;; It will also be possible to follow the voting process via smartphone mobile devices.

India: Election Commission agrees in principle to voting machines with printouts | IBN

The Election Commission on Friday told the Supreme Court that it was in principle ready to introduce voting machines which give a printed record to voters once they exercise their franchise. The election panel said it had placed an order for 20,000 machines with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) facility and these will be introduced in a phased manner. The apex court bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi accepted the commission’s stand on limitations in procurement of the new machines and said: “You try. We realise your problem. You can’t implement it in entire country (in one go).”

Maldives: Court annuls 1st round presidential vote | Associated Press

The Supreme Court of the Maldives on Monday annulled the results of the first round of voting in the country’s presidential election, agreeing with a losing candidate’s claim that the election was flawed. Four judges of a seven-member panel decided that some 5,600 votes cast in the Sept. 7 first round were tainted, making it unclear which candidates qualified for a runoff. The court ordered revoting to be completed by Nov. 3. Former President Mohamed Nasheed led the vote with more than 45 percent but failed to get the needed 50 percent. Yaamin Abdul Gayoom—brother of the South Asian country’s longtime autocratic leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom—finished second and was to face Nasheed in the second round scheduled for Sept. 28.

Mauritania: Opposition parties to boycott legislative election | DefenceWeb

Mauritania’s main opposition parties announced a boycott of November’s legislative election on Friday after talks with the government over preparations for the vote collapsed without agreement. The Coordination of the Democratic Opposition (COD) said after three days of talks with the government that 10 of its 11 member parties had decided to boycott the vote. The talks were the first between the two sides in over four years. President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz seized power in a 2008 coup in the Islamic republic, which straddles black and Arab Africa on the continent’s west coast.