Voting Blogs: The FEC and the Making of Law “Case-by-Case” | More Soft Money Hard Law

A conflict—the latest in the series—has broken out among FEC Commissioners about whether they have made public all relevant material on the General Counsel’s  view of Crossroads GPS and whether it is a “political committee.”  In one report, the GC concluded that the evidence supported further investigation of the question, but the Commission deadlocked, and now a private lawsuit is looming.  Republicans seem to believe that the public record is incomplete and that the missing GC analysis would have a bearing on the legal merits of Crossroads’ position.   Whatever the facts of the matter, this ruckus reminds readers once again of the troubled condition of the Commission’s “case-by-case,” fact-specific approach to determining “political committee” status. In 2007, the Commission adopted this approach because the alternative—a rulemaking with bright lines—could not attract the four votes needed to pass. Instead the agency, with nowhere else to turn, had to decide cases on unique facts after comprehensive inquiry, or invite organizations unwilling to gamble on the outcome to seek an Advisory Opinion before spending their money and running the legal risk of becoming a fully regulated “political committee.” Political Committee Status, 72 Fed. Reg. 5,595-02 (Feb. 7, 2007).  In litigation challenging its failure to promulgate a rule, the Commission defended itself by saying that a rulemaking was “inadvisable.”  See Shays v. Federal Election Commission, 424 F.Supp.2d 100, 112 (2006).  But it was not inadvisable.  It was simply impossible, for lack of a majority position on the Commission on the shape of the law.

Arkansas: State, county election officials at odds over ID law | Arkansas News

A member of the state Board of Election Commissioners filed but later withdrew a complaint Thursday against two Pulaski County election officials for failing to follow the board’s policy on how to handle absentee ballots under the state’s new voter ID law. The actions by Stuart Soffer of White Hall came a day after the the Pulaski County Election Commission and Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane filed a lawsuit challenging the policy. Soffer said Thursday he withdrew his complaint after deciding, on reflection, that it might be inappropriate for him to file a complaint with a board of which he is a member. Instead, he said he will propose at an upcoming meeting that the board as a body file a complaint against Pulaski County Election Commission Chairman Leonard Boyle Sr. and member Chris Burks.

Florida: State takes its time with lists of suspected ineligible voters | The News-Press

Seven months after Gov. Rick Scott announced a new purge of Florida’s voting rolls, county supervisors of elections are still waiting for the state to provide them with lists of suspected ineligible voters. The purge isn’t on hold, the state just isn’t in a hurry. “We do not have a set timeline to start the proposed process,” Florida Department of State spokeswoman Brittany Lesser said Friday. Meanwhile, midterm elections and Scott’s bid for a second term approach. It’s too late for such a purge to affect Southwest Florida’s special election to fill Trey Radel’s congressional seat. Radel resigned Jan. 27 after pleading guilty to cocaine possession and serving a stint in rehab. Ineligible voters would have to be removed by 90 days before a federal election, according to federal law.

Guam: Election Commission Expects New Central Tabulators Just in Time for This Year’s Election | Pacific News Center

Today was the bid deadline on the Guam Election Commission’s RFP for vote tabulators. GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan says a number of bids were received from a variety of companies. She could not say how many or who submitted the bids. Nor could she say how many tabulators will be purchased, since all that depends on the capabilities of the machines being offered, and their cost. And they won’t know that until the bids are opened and examined in the week ahead. Pangelinan said the staff  will start evaluating the bids Monday, and she expects a recommended bidder will be presented to the Election Commission at their next meeting on Thursday, March 20th.

Ohio: Cincinnati case garners attention before SCOTUS hearing | USAToday

What could bring together the American Civil Liberties Union, the Cincinnati anti-tax group COAST and one-time National Lampoon editor P.J. O’Rourke? How about a four-year-old Cincinnati political brawl turned Supreme Court case that touches on everything from abortion to Obamacare to the First Amendment? At its heart, the case is a constitutional challenge to an Ohio law that bars lying about candidates during an election. In arguments set for next month, the Supreme Court will consider a narrower question, but the legal tussle has already generated some surprising twists and turns. So how many Pinocchios does the Ohio law allow?

Editorials: Ohio Mistrusts Democracy | New York Times

Ohio Republicans must not think their political candidates can win a fair fight against Democrats. They’ve decided to rig the state’s election system in their favor, deliberately making voting harder for people who tend to vote Democratic, particularly minorities and the poor. After years of debate and litigation on this issue, Ohio lawmakers know full well that there is no history of electoral fraud in the state and no pattern of abuse by any voters or groups. The sole reason for a series of recently passed bills is that Ohio is a perennial swing state, and Republicans want to give themselves every possible advantage in sending party members to Congress later this year, and putting electoral votes in the Republican column in the 2016 presidential election.

South Carolina: Lawmakers seek fix for election law to avoid ‘catastrophic’ problems | The Greenville News

State lawmakers are warning that another flawed election law could make the debacle of 2012 that knocked hundreds of candidates out of primaries seem tame by comparison. Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Senate on Wednesday that the office of state Attorney General Alan Wilson has issued an opinion concluding that a 2008 law under which most of the state’s counties combined election and voter registration boards is unconstitutional. The reason, state Solicitor General Robert Cook explained in the opinion, is that under the state’s Constitution, the Legislature is prohibited from passing laws that are customized for certain parts of the state but not others. “Act No. 312 is simply an amalgam of laws, each for a particular county,” Cook wrote.

Editorials: Let South Carolina Election Commission oversee county offices to safeguard everyone’s vote | The State

The main reason the Legislature has spent more than a year not fixing the election system that brought us Lillian McBride and Howard Jackson and now Sam Selph — and eight-hour waits to vote and uncounted ballots — is that legislators in the rest of the state don’t understand that Richland County is the canary in the coal mine. They insist that those endless lines and ballots that turn up a year after the fact, uncounted, are unique to Richland County. They’re not, but let’s pretend for argument’s sake that the problem is unique to Richland County. It still isn’t a Richland County problem.

Editorials: Bills should fix problems, not elections | Tom Barrett/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin has, for decades, achieved one of the highest rates of voter participation in the country during presidential elections. That’s something we should celebrate. Unfortunately, since 2011, Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature have rewritten election laws with the primary purpose of ensuring that they remain in power. These actions do not represent democracy. And they certainly don’t reflect the spirit of the first three words of our Constitution, “We the People.” The most recent change restricts the hours for early voting for every municipality in the state, regardless of size. For the city of Milwaukee, city of Madison and other large municipalities, this removes their ability to offer the evening and weekend hours that have existed to accommodate large populations. This legislation further exacerbates a longstanding problem for Milwaukee: the state Legislature’s previous decisions to limit municipalities to one early voting site, regardless of population.

Australia: Uncertainty continues after South Australia poll | The Australian

South Australia’s election outcome remains uncertain as the major parties continue to lobby two key independents amid the likelihood of a hung parliament. It could be the end of the week before the count is finalised with the Australian Electoral Commission only beginning to tally up to 260,000 pre-poll, postal and absentee votes on Tuesday. Independents Bob Such and Geoff Brock have again vowed to take time to decide who they will support, either individually or collectively, if neither of the major parties can secure a majority. With 69 per cent of the vote counted, Labor is on course to win 23 seats in the 47-seat lower house, the Liberals 22, with the independents to hold two. But there remains 10 seats where the margin is less than 1000 votes, suggesting the situation could change quite dramatically.

Bulgaria: State election commission announces preliminary results | B92

According to preliminary results of the Election Commission (RIK) only four coalitions and lists of ethnic minorities will have seats in the new parliament. These preliminary results were announced during a news conference held at midnight in Belgrade. RIK President Dejan Đurđević told reporters that the results, based on ballots from 65.37 percent of the polling stations (50.51 percent of the electorate), showed the SNS-led coalition had won 48.44 percent (156 mandates), followed by the coalition gathered around the Socialists (SPS), with 14.05 percent (45 mandates). Boris Tadić’s New Democratic Party (NDS) and its coalition received 5.86 percent (18 mandates), while the one led by the Democratic Party (DS) had 5.46 percent (17 mandates).

Indonesia: Election campaign kicks off | Borneo Post

Indonesia’s raucous election season kicked off yesterday with the promise of a fresh style of leadership in the world’s third largest democracy, whose economic promise has been sapped by rampant graft, confusing policy and weak rule. An uncertain election outlook abruptly changed on Friday when the main PDI-P opposition party named the hugely popular governor of Jakarta as its candidate for July’s presidential election. That lifted even further its chances of dominating the parliamentary election on April 9. Opinion polls suggest the presidency is governor Joko Widodo’s to lose, with old-style contenders ex-general Prabowo Subianto and tycoon Aburizal Bakrie trailing far behind. A hint of the euphoria attached to the nomination of the charismatic Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, was shown in the 3.2 per cent jump in Jakarta share prices after the announcement.

Slovakia: Incumbent Faces Presidential Election Battle – Runoff Vote Set for March 29 | Wall Street Journal

Slovakia’s serving prime minister won the first round of Slovakia’s presidential election Saturday but will have to fight hard ahead of the late-March runoff to persuade enough voters concerned that his ruling left-of-center party is taking too much power. If elected, Robert Fico, 49 years old, and his Smer-Social Democrats would gain control over the presidency, parliament, and government in this small euro-zone country of 5.4 million. No single political party has held all top elected offices in this ex-Communist country formed after a peaceful split of the former Czechoslovak federation in 1993. Mr. Fico won 28% of cast votes, which was well below the expected 35% support indicated by pre-election polls of voters’ preferences.

Ukraine: Declaring victory, Crimean and Russian officials pledge fast integration | Kyiv Post

With one exit poll showing that 93 percent of Crimeans voted to join Russia, and street celebrations under way, the peninsula’s pro-Kremlin prime minister and a Russian nationalist politician pledged quick integration. The bravado and declarations of speedy Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory came after a deeply flawed vote held under the intimidating presence of at least 21,000 Russian soldiers, who invaded in late February. Crimean officials, including Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov, and parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov, showed up at the stage on the main square in Simferopol near the Vladimir Lenin monument. They stood listening to the Russian national anthem and then enjoyed a fireworks show amid shouts of jubilation among hundreds of people. “We have an absolutely legitimate referendum. I have never seen more legitimate event,” Konstantinov told local Crimean 24 TV station.

Ukraine: Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine in ‘illegal’ poll | The Guardian

Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine in a referendum that most of the world has condemned as illegal. Early results – when 50% of the votes were counted – showed that 95.5% of ballots were in favour of joining Russia. Russia’s lower house of parliament will pass legislation allowing Ukraine’s southern Crimea region to join Russia “in the very near future”, news agency Interfax cited its deputy speaker as saying on Monday morning. “Results of the referendum in Crimea clearly showed that residents of Crimea see their future only as part of Russia,” Sergei Neverov was quoted as saying.

Ukraine: Ukraine war already in full swing in cyberspace | GlobalPost

With cyberattacks already launched against Crimean separatists, the Kremlin and NATO, the ground war may not have started in Ukraine but computer warfare is already raging. In recent days — and with increasing intensity on Sunday — a virtual war has commenced in the countries at the centre of the worst East-West diplomatic crisis since the end of the Cold War. The “soldiers” of this war don’t wear uniforms and don’t necessarily swear allegiance to one particular country. Their chosen weapon is the “Denial of Service” attack designed to overwhelm web servers and make their websites unusable. The attacks accelerated as soon as voting booths opened on Sunday for the referendum in Crimea on whether the region will join Russia. The site created by separatist groups to monitor the vote was blocked for an hour on Sunday, with the pro-Russian government accusing hackers from an American university, Urbana-Champaign in Illinois, of being behind the attack.