Editorials: Obama winning war on voting rights | DeWayne Wickham/USAToday

President Obama is winning this war. I’m not talking about the lingering conflict in Afghanistan, that distant fight against what remains of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization and the Taliban, a feudal band of religious zealots that threatens to overturn the Hamid Karzai government that the Obama’s administration is propping up. No, the war in which Obama has just scored a major victory is being waged inside this nation’s borders. It’s the fight over voting rights — a combat that has impacted the outcome of every presidential election, and many lesser contests, for longer than U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan, which is America’s longest war on foreign soil. Obama scored this domestic victory in an unusual way: He put Republican Benjamin Ginsberg, one of his opponents’ most successful field commanders, at the head of his effort to beat back attempts to restrict the voting rights of a lot of people — many of whom are widely thought to be Democrats.

Voting Blogs: Coordinating with a Super PAC, Raising Money for It, and the Difference Between the Two | More Soft Money Hard Law

How much can a candidate do for a Super PAC without illegally “coordinating” with it? Recent proposals would answer that she has to keep her distance—no publicly (or privately) stated support and no fundraising for the independent committee. A bit of a surprise has developed in the debate. While questioning how far these restrictions can go, Rick Hasen concludes that as a matter of constitutional law, Congress may prohibit the fundraising, and on this point, he sides in theory with Brad Smith of the Center for Competitive Politics. Richard L. Hasen, Super PAC Contributions, Corruption, and the Proxy War Over Coordination, Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy (forthcoming), 16-17, available here; Bradley A. Smith, Super PACs and the Role of “Coordination” in Campaign Finance Law, 49 Willamette L. Rev. 603, 635 (2013). Rick Hasen and Brad Smith are not often found in the same jurisprudential company.  So it is interesting to consider how they may have arrived there and why, in their judgments about the regulation Buckley would allow, they appear to have erred.

Colorado: Democrats nix GOP bills dealing with mail ballots | Associated Press

Democrats on Monday rejected proposals from Colorado Republicans that would make mail ballots optional and allow anyone to challenge votes cast by mail. The bills failed Monday on 3-2 party-line votes in a Senate committee. Last year, Democrats passed an election-law overhaul that, among other things, allowed voter registration on Election Day and required mail ballots for every registered voter. Republicans have criticized the election changes and have expressed concerns over possible fraud. They have pledged to try this year to address portions of the new election rules or try to undo them. But with Democrats controlling both legislative chambers, they will be facing long odds. That was apparent Monday with a couple of the bills they argued for, and the Republican sponsors saw the fate of their proposals coming.

Florida: Special election for Radel seat to cost thousands | WINK

WINK News has confirmed that Governor Scott will call for a special election to fill Radel’s seat, but how much could it cost you the taxpayer? As Radel steps down, many are wondering when we could see a new representative in office. The Collier County Supervisor of Elections says that’s up to the governor. “The challenge here is once the date is determined, just getting everything in motion,” said Edwards. Edwards says the election will be treated like any other. Qualifying rounds, a two party primary if necessary, and a general election.

Michigan: $80,000: Estimated cost for Grand Rapids to hold special election for streets tax | MLive.com

A May ballot proposal for a streets tax would cost more and likely get less participation than if it were put on the November ballot along with county and state elections. But a special election would give Grand Rapids more time to change tax forms if the proposal fails. City Commission on Tuesday, Jan. 28, will consider calling a special election for May 6. Grand Rapids voters, who in 2010 authorized a 5-year income-tax increase, will be asked to continue that increase for another 15 years and earmark the money for streets. Acting City Clerk Darlene O’Neal said holding an election in May will cost Grand Rapids an extra $75,000 to $80,000.

Missouri: Senate considers voter identification laws again | Associated Press

A Missouri Senate panel heard legislation Monday that would require voters to show photo identification at polling places amid warnings from the state’s top election official that 220,000 registered voters would no longer be able to cast ballots if the measure passes. Similar measures have been passed in other states, but they have faced legal challenges. And Missouri’s previous efforts have failed in the courts. The measure’s sponsor told the Senate Elections Committee that Missouri needs to require voters to show a government-issued ID to preserve the integrity of state elections. “We need to make sure everyone’s vote counts. It should be one person, one vote and without an ID requirement we can’t make that happen,” said sponsoring Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit. Opponents contend there’s no evidence of massive voter fraud and that such measures disenfranchise voters.

Nebraska: Online voter registration in Nebraska? | KMAland

A bill before the Unicameral would enable Nebraskans to register to vote online, 24-7. Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale, who oversees the state’s elections, says he’d support the move onto the Internet and once the website is created, it would be a relatively quick, simple process for the user to get registered. “You have to have a driver’s license and that driver’s license has to be a Nebraska license that’s identifiable through the Department of Motor Vehicles,” Gale says. “From that information, we can capture accurately the exact legal name, the driver’s license number, and the signature. It’s so critical that we have the signature for purposes of comparison when people go to vote.” The bill, LB 661, is being sponsored by Senator Bob Krist of Omaha.

New Hampshire: 8,200 Manchester residents could be cut from voter rolls | Union Leader

Officials in the Queen City could remove up to 8,200 people from its voter rolls in the coming months as part of a citywide “checklist verification” process. Starting on Thursday, the Office of the City Clerk will send postcards to 8,200 residents who have not voted according to its records since the 2008 election. City Clerk Matt Normand said the goal was to keep the voter list as up to date as possible to avoid a large and complicated state-mandated purge in 2020. “Periodic verification avoids a major purge of tens of thousands of voters during the state-mandated 10-year checklist purge, which stresses the office and ward officials for those looking to re-register once in any of the subsequent eight citywide elections held at Manchester polls,” Normand said in a statement announcing the move.

Editorials: New York Needs To Bolster Its Voting System | Blair Horner/WAMC

During the 2012 election, far too many Americans voters had to stand in long lines for hours in order to cast their ballot.  Voters who were stuck waiting were all too frequently lower-income and non-white.  The President promised to act, in order to ensure that such a disgraceful situation would never happen again. The President convened a blue-ribbon panel jointly headed by the top lawyers for the Obama and Romney campaigns.  Last week, the panel issued its findings.  The report, The American Voting Experience: Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, called for – among other proposals – expanded early voting, online registration, and a goal of ensuring that no voter waited on line for more than 30 minutes to cast their ballot. The report was the result of a six-month-long study.  The panel held public hearings as well as meetings with experts and election administrators. The report’s findings came as New York is once again debating how to strengthen its democracy.  And while most of that debate has been over weak ethics laws and a “pay-to-play” political culture, the state’s obstacles to voting is another big problem.

North Carolina: No more straight-party option in 2014 election | Elkin Tribune

Voters heading to the polls in 2014 will see a missing option when they begin casting their ballots, with no opportunity to elect a straight-party ticket for partisan seats. “There is no straight party anymore,” said Angie Harrison, deputy director for the Surry County Board of Elections. “You actually have to go down the ballot and pick the offices individually.” Voters already had to do that for any nonpartisan seats, such as school boards, municipal boards, judges and for the partisan presidential office, but in the past they had an option to select either Republican or Democrat for all other partisan seats without having to go through each office at stake one by one. This included posts for county commissioners, senators, state and federal representatives, sheriff and others. This is one of many changes being implemented during the next few years after the state Legislature passed the Voter ID law, formally known as House Bill 589, which went into effect Jan. 1.

Pennsylvania: Governor asks court to reverse decision on voter ID | Associated Press

A judge made a host of mistakes in deciding to throw out the Pennsylvania’s requirement that voters display photo identification, lawyers for Gov. Tom Corbett argued in a court filing Monday. The team of private lawyers and the attorney general’s office asked in 39 pages of post-trial arguments that the law be reinstated, the decision revised or a new trial ordered. The filing says Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley wrongly decided the law was unconstitutional because of how it was implemented, and took issue with his rejection of a Department of State-created ID card. “The statute cannot be declared facially unconstitutional based solely on flaws found in the executive’s reading or administration of the statute,” Corbett’s lawyers argued.

Virginia: Democrat wins Virginia Senate recount, giving McAuliffe’s agenda a crucial boost | The Washington Post

State Del. Lynwood W. Lewis Jr. has won the recount for a Hampton Roads Senate seat, throwing control of the Virginia Senate to Democrats and giving Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s first-year agenda a crucial boost. Lewis’s slim lead over Republican Wayne Coleman grew from nine to 11 votes over the course of the recount Monday, which Republicans and Democrats had watched closely given its outsize importance to the balance of power in Richmond. Although the candidates were still awaiting an official ruling from a three-judge panel, Coleman acknowledged the outcome just after 4 p.m. Monday. His victory gives Democrats new leverage in the General Assembly, where the House of Delegates is overwhelmingly Republican — and overwhelmingly opposed to several of McAuliffe’s priorities. The new Democratic governor is trying to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but many other issues, including increased public school funding, gun control and gay marriage are also being examined.

Egypt: Presidential Election Set Amid Worry Over General’s Power | Wall Street Journal

Egypt’s military-backed government said it would hold presidential elections before a parliamentary vote, a reversal that stands to give the next president considerable legislative authority. That next leader looks increasingly likely to be the military’s chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who has indicated he is considering a bid for the nation’s highest office, buoyed by massive popular and political support. Few other potential candidates have emerged. Sunday’s decision changes the electoral schedule set by the military after it ousted Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in July. The new sequence will put the nation’s next leader in a position to influence voters to back the parliamentary candidates he supports. The decision sets the stage for more clashes with the Muslim Brotherhood, the now-outlawed Islamist group from which the deposed president hailed. The Brotherhood on Sunday called for more demonstrations.

El Salvador: Salvadoran Americans vote in national election by mail for first time | KPCC

It took years for El Salvador’s legislative system to give Salvadorans living abroad the right to vote by mail in national elections. The law was passed last year, and on Sunday, Feb. 2, the country’s expats will participate for the first time in a presidential election. But the process hasn’t been going as smoothly as some had hoped, with many frustrated by a process they say was rolled out too late, with poor planning and little time for hopeful voters to follow through. Tito Rivera, a Los Angeles restaurant owner, said he registered to vote in the election months ago. But with the election just days away, he still hadn’t received his voter packet. “Most likely I’m not going to vote,” Rivera said. “That’s what going to happen. Because if I don’t send that in time…it’s not going to count. I’m disappointed, because we’ve been fighting for that a long time.”

Thailand: Election delay urged to avoid further bloodshed | CBC News

Thailand’s Election Commission urged a delay in next week’s planned national vote, warning on Monday of more bloodshed after violent clashes at the weekend. That would drag out a festering crisis that risks splitting the country. The military, which has often stepped in to take control in the past, is resolutely staying out of the fray this time, despite appeals from anti-government protesters.  “As election officials, it is our job to make sure elections are successful, but we also need to make sure the country is peaceful enough to hold the election,” Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, an Election Commission member, told Reuters. “We don’t want it to be bloody.” The commission will meet embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday to discuss the vote date.

United Kingdom: Expat Scots demand a vote in independence referendum | Reuters

A million Scots living outside of Scotland should be allowed to vote in a referendum this year on whether their country becomes an independent nation, one of them said on Monday as he sought backing for a legal challenge. James Wallace, a Scottish-born trainee lawyer who lives in England, is among the 1.15 million Scots who are excluded from the vote as they are not resident there. Anyone over the age of 16 living in Scotland – about 80 percent of the 5.2 million population – has the right to vote on September 18 either for independence or to remain part of the United Kingdom alongside England, Wales and Northern Ireland. That means 800,000 Scots living in the rest of the UK and others in large Scottish communities in countries such as the United States, Canada and Ireland will have no say.