National: Lawyers Seek $2M in Fees from Federal Governemnt in Voting Rights Act Challenge | Legal Times

The lawyers who successfully challenged the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year are seeking $2 million in legal fees from the federal government. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers and attorneys from Wiley Rein, who represented Shelby County, Ala., in the voting rights dispute, are expected to fight over two issues: whether the challengers are entitled to fees in the first place and whether $2 million is too much. The fee request “appears to present novel legal issues,” the attorneys in the case said in a Nov. 4 court filing. The government and civil rights groups involved in the litigation plan to oppose the fee request. U.S. District Judge John Bates will first decide whether Shelby County’s lawyers are entitled to fees before looking at how much compensation is appropriate. In June, a divided U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the voting rights law, which laid out the formula used to decide which states and jurisdictions should have to take special steps before making changes to their voting procedures. Wiley Rein filed its fee request in late October.

California: Probe of campaign donations sheds light on ‘dark money’ | Los Angeles Times

Tony Russo had a multimillion-dollar problem. The Republican consultant and his team had raised piles of cash to use in California politics as last November’s election approached. But a wrinkle in state law meant he couldn’t spend it in the final two months of the campaign without jeopardizing the anonymity he had promised his rich donors. So Russo turned to what he called “the Koch network.” He asked a political consultant who has worked with billionaire Republican contributors Charles and David Koch to shuttle the money through an Arizona nonprofit. That group, which is not required to reveal its donors, could send cash to California causes without names attached. But things went from bad to worse. Although Russo handed over $25 million, only about $15 million ended up back in California. And when the money surfaced, it sparked an investigation by state authorities, who last month[ levied $16 million in penalties against the Arizona group and three others.

Florida: Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Fla. political donor law | Washington Times

A Florida political activist is out of luck after the Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear his challenge to a state law that prohibited groups from donating small amounts of money without first forming a political action committee. The high court has struck down a number of campaign giving restrictions and regulations in recent years, but its decision not to hear the case from plaintiff Andrew Worley means that the 11th Circuit Court’s decision in the case will stand and the Florida restrictions will remain in place. “It is definitely a disappointment, but the fight is not over. There are other courts looking at these issues in similar cases and eventually the Supreme Court will have to take them up,” said Institute for Justice senior attorney Paul Sherman. Mr. Sherman, who was the lead attorney on the case, cited cases in Arizona and Mississippi, where the plaintiffs have won and the states have said they will appeal. He noted that the Supreme Court, which does not disclose typically why it is not hearing an individual case, may have decided not to hear Worley v. Florida Secretary of State while waiting for those other cases will play out.

Kansas: Challenge to voter ID law likely headed to federal court | Associated PRess

Secretary of State Kris Kobach and an attorney challenging a Kansas law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls are locked in a dispute over which court should hear the lawsuit. Kobach said Tuesday that he sought to have the case moved from state court to federal court because Wichita attorney Jim Lawing has raised federal election law issues on behalf of two retired northeast Kansas residents whose votes in the 2012 general election were not counted because neither had a government-issued ID with a photograph. In a court filing, Kobach’s lawyer noted that the lawsuit cites a U.S. Supreme Court decision in an Arizona case this year. “Most voting cases do end up in federal court,” said Kobach, a conservative Republican who pushed for passage of the photo ID law in 2011.

Minnesota: Ranked-choice voting means lots of candidates but not lots of confusion | Pioneer Press

Tuesday’s polls in St. Paul and Minneapolis drew both fans and skeptics of ranked-choice voting — but relatively little confusion despite long candidate slates. The votes, though, did not produce clear winners Tuesday evening in the St. Paul Ward 1 city council race, the Minneapolis mayor race and in three of 13 city council wards in that city. Under the ranked-choice system, only candidates who garner more than 50 percent of first-choice votes emerge as clear-cut victors. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman handily won re-election. For both cities, it was the second go-around with the system, in which voters rank candidates rather than casting a ballot just for their top choices. St. Paul voters elected city council candidates with ranked ballots in 2011. Minneapolis used the system in the 2009 re-election of Mayor R.T. Rybak. At some polling sites, election officials said practice — along with typically light off-year election turnout — made for a smooth process. “We explain ranked choice to those that don’t get it,” said Julia New-Landrum, an election judge in St. Paul’s Ward 1. “Just about 90 percent of people know what it is.”

Mississippi: Lowndes County to buy new voting machine system | The Commercial Appeal

Lowndes County supervisors plan to seek bids to buy new voting machine system that scans paper ballots. Supervisors on Monday approved a request by county purchasing clerk Terry Thompson to solicit bids, The Commercial Dispatch newspaper reported. The equipment would replace a TSX electronic voting system that has been used since 2005 to process votes digitally. Mississippi received federal funding in 2005 for TSX systems as well as maintenance and technical support. County circuit clerk Haley Salazar said in September that money for support and upkeep will not be provided after this year and that going back to paper ballots would be more efficient for voters, poll workers and election commissioners.

Montana: 20,000 Missoula election ballots to be recounted | The Missoulian

A missed step on the last box of ballots sent what otherwise was an uneventful election into a late-night recount. Missoula County Clerk and Recorder Vickie Zeier said the final machine-counting of 359 ballots was recorded but not saved properly to a computer memory disk. Election workers used tracking sheets to re-create the count – checking 12 ballots from one ward, 62 from another, and so on according to the list of what was in that final box.

Texas: Jim Wright gets his voter ID card; local resident not as lucky | Weatherford Democrat

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright was able to resolve his problem obtaining a new Texas Voter ID card in time for Tuesday’s election. A Weatherford resident was not as fortunate. Wright, a former World War II bombardier, Weatherford resident and mayor, Congressman and now a Fort Worth resident, says he’s finally obtained the documents he needs to vote under new state law on Election Day. Wright told The Associated Press on Monday that he received a temporary version of a state ID that proves his identity under Texas’ Voter ID law, which gets its first major test in Tuesday’s election. Wright, 90, was turned away last week when he tried to obtain proper ID with an expired driver’s license or university faculty ID. Weatherford resident Lisa Blevins was not as lucky.

Editorials: Texas holds ’em voteless with new ID law | The Washington Post

Greg Abbott, the Republican attorney general of Texas, campaigned long and loud for the state’s new voter ID law. The law is a transparent effort to tilt elections in the state to Republicans by suppressing the minority vote, which is becoming more important as Texas’s demographics shift. So it was a rich irony that Mr. Abbott, who is running for governor, himself set off alarms as a suspicious voter the other day, along with a state judge, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, former speaker of the House Jim Wright and uncounted and unnamed others who tried to vote on a set of state constitutional amendments. The new law, passed by the GOP-dominated state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, masquerades as a tool to combat election fraud. In fact, as in other states that have enacted similar measures, there is no statistically significant — or even insignificant — evidence of in-person fraud at the polls in Texas.

Virginia: Dead heat in Virginia attorney general’s race; recount expected | The Washington Post

The Virginia attorney general’s race was a virtual dead heat and headed for a recount early Wednesday morning, with Republican State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain clinging to a 778-vote lead over Democratic State Sen. Mark Herring with 2.1 million ballots cast, according to an unofficial Associated Press count. State election law provides for the trailing candidate to request a recount if the margin is less that 1 percent of the total vote. Speaking to reporters just before midnight, Herring (D-Leesburg) said he would request a recount. “The race for attorney general is razor-close, and the commonwealth has a process to make sure all the votes are counted, and we are going to make sure we go through that process. Right now, it’s basically 50-50 and the numbers have been moving in our direction all night. The race is far from over. And we are going to make sure we follow the process and make sure every single vote is counted.”

Wisconsin: Federal trial challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID law underway | Journal Sentinel

Minorities and senior citizens testified Monday about costly and time-consuming difficulties they faced in getting photo identification as they pressed their case to permanently invalidate Wisconsin’s voter ID law. The federal trial that kicked off Monday involves two cases and is expected to last two weeks. A Dane County judge in a different case has already blocked the law, but opponents of voter ID are pursuing the federal litigation in an attempt to ensure the requirement never goes back into effect. Assistant attorneys general defended the law in court, saying requiring IDs was a reasonable way to curb fraud and maintain public confidence in the way the state runs elections. “Voter fraud is real,” Assistant Attorney General Clayton Kawski said. “It is not a myth.” The trial began with a string of people describing the problems they had in trying to secure IDs for themselves or family members. Some of them have yet to be successful. “I cannot express the amount of time, energy and frustration it required” to get a license for her mother, Debra Crawford testified. Crawford’s mother, Bettye Jones, was the lead plaintiff in one of the cases before the court Monday. Jones died in October 2012.

Australia: Missing votes a rare event in Australian Electoral Commission history | Sydney Morning Herald

This year’s election hasn’t been a great one for the Australian Electoral Commission. First, there were reports of ”missing” ballots in the seat of Indi. Then Clive Palmer has remained a vocal critic and made frequent attacks questioning the AEC’s integrity. Finally, last week came the revelation that 1375 votes have gone missing from the West Australian Senate recount. The first two events are less substantive. In the case of Indi, the ”missing” ballots were never missing. There was a transcription error that made it appear the ballots were missing when they never were. In the case of Palmer, the rhetoric about the AEC ”rigging” elections is unsubstantiated and so contrary to what we know about the AEC and how it operates, that I don’t know of a single political scientist or an official or politician from either major party who supports that allegation. And the major parties have long histories of witnessing how the AEC and its predecessors operate.

Canada: Candidates have until Monday to request a recount | Montreal Gazette

Montreal’s elections office issued the official results of Sunday’s municipal elections on Tuesday afternoon, which means the period for requesting official recounts has begun. After a municipal election, officials double-check that the ballot counts filled in on forms at each polling station correspond to the numbers that were reported to the Elections Montreal office by telephone immediately after counting the votes at each polling office, Elections Montreal spokesperson Pierre G. Laporte said. The process takes a couple of days, at which point the official election results are posted, he said.

Kosovo: Vote count for northern Kosovo yet to begin | B92

Roberto Gualtieri said on Tuesday that the vote count for polling stations in the four municipalities in northern Kosovo and Metohija has not begun yet. Gualtieri is chief observer of the EU Election Observation Mission. The election materials are in Priština, and our job is to monitor and analyze the process. In relation to that, the Central Electoral Commission should assess the situation and deliver a decision, Gualtieri said at a press conference. The EU Election Observation Mission condemns the attacks on the three polling stations in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, Gualtieri said, underlining that the attempts at sabotage failed. The EU mission assessed positively the electoral process in Kosovo, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) offered key assistance to the process, despite great challenges, he said.

Australia: Australian Electoral Commission apologises for lost senate votes | ABC

The Australian Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn, in his first interview since the AEC lost 1375 ballot papers in the Western Australian senate recount, has admitted that the public’s confidence in the AEC has been damaged as a result of the debacle. Speaking with RN’s Breakfast, Mr Killesteyn said that the ‘gravity of the situation’ had not been lost on him. ‘Nearly 1400 Western Australian electors have had their Senate vote disenfranchised and I apologise unreservedly to all those electors,’ he said. ‘We’re left with a nagging and almost irreconcilable doubt about the outcome of the WA Senate election.’ Mr Killestyn added that a shift to electronic voting, where a vote is registered straight away and can’t be tampered with, was ‘inevitable.’

Kosovo: Disrupted Kosovo vote to be repeated in some Serb areas | Europe Online

“Voting material from three election centres in Mitrovica was totally unusable and the central election commission decided to annul and repeat the vote there,” commission member Nenad Rikalo said. The date for the repeat vote will be announced later, he told Serbian state television RTS. Electoral committee members prepare for voting in the municipal elections at a polling station in the ethnically divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo, 03 November 2013. Voting was cut short Sunday in Mitrovica when masked Serb extremists attacked officials and smashed ballot boxes. Other violations, such as intimidation of voters, also marred the day.