A federal judge in Milwaukee struck down Wisconsin’s voter Identification law Tuesday, saying a requirement that voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls imposes an unfair burden on poor and minority voters. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman sided with opponents of the law, who argued that low-income and minority voters aren’t as likely to have photo IDs or the documents needed to get them. Adelman said the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Adelman’s decision invalidates Wisconsin’s law and could set a precedent for similar legal challenges in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere. At least 14 states require voters to show photo ID, and legislation in dozens of other states includes proposals to either introduce new voter ID laws or strengthen existing ones. Just last week, an Arkansas judge struck down that state’s voter ID law; it is being appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Editorials: McCutcheon Restores Power to Congressional Campaigns | Tim Peckinpaugh and Steve Roberts/Roll Call Opinion
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court struck down an aggregate cap on individual contributions to federal candidates, parties and political committees over a two-year election cycle in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Certainly, this is an important holding, but this is not Citizens United II. In fact, in as much as Citizens United increased spending opportunities with outside groups, it’s just the opposite. This decision will have a major impact in national political giving by restoring congressional campaigns themselves — as well as the national parties that support them — to renewed importance by which donors of all political persuasions (and particularly wealthy donors) provide support to a slate of preferred candidates. That shift will, in turn, result in a larger portion of political giving by way of transparent, fully disclosed contributions to federal campaign committees and the Members of Congress they support. Essentially finding that the presence of any cap was arbitrary, and building on its previous free speech analysis in Citizens United v. FEC, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. illustrated the underlying faulty logic of the biennial aggregate limit in operation: “If there is no corruption concern in giving nine candidates up to $5,200 each, it is difficult to understand how a tenth candidate can be regarded as corruptible if given $1,801, and all others corruptible if given a dime.”
Arkansas’ attorney general told a state judge on Friday he plans to appeal a decision that struck down a new voter ID law, while a civil liberties group said it will move forward with a separate challenge to the requirement. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office filed a notice of appeal over Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox’s ruling a day earlier that voided a new law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. McDaniel is appealing the case to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Fox had issued the ruling in a case that focused on how absentee ballots are handled under the new law. A spokesman for McDaniel’s office and the chairman of the state Republican Party both said they planned to ask the court to stay Fox’s ruling. The GOP had been given permission to help defend the state in the absentee ballot case, and has filed a separate notice of appeal. The state’s primary is May 20, and early voting for that election begins May 5.
While the state Legislature was debating the bill that became Arkansas’ voter ID law last year, Rep. Jim Nickels, D-Sherwood, argued that it had to meet a higher vote threshold than other bills. Nickels, a lawyer, said at the time that the bill to require voters to show photo identification at the polls required a two-thirds majority vote to pass because it would change the Arkansas Constitution by adding to the requirements to vote in Arkansas, which are set in the constitution. The bill’s supporters argued that the law would not change the constitution because it would only affect procedures at the polls. They said the eligibility requirements to be a voter would stay the same; the bill would merely require voters to prove they are who they say they are. “I feel vindicated,” Nickels said Friday, a day after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox struck down Act 595 of 2013.
Voting Blogs: Arkansas Judge Declares Republican Photo ID Restriction Law Unconstitutional, ‘Null and Void’ | BradBlog
A Circuit Court judge has resoundingly rejected Arkansas’ new Photo ID restrictions on voting, declaring the law to be “null and void” and in violation of the state’s Constitutional right to vote. Last year, after Republicans took over the Arkansas statehouse for the first time since Reconstruction, they passed an onerous Photo ID restriction law for voting. The Democratic Governor Mike Beebe vetoed the new restrictions, but that veto was subsequently overridden by the Republican legislature. Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Davis Fox’ 2-page Summary Judgement [PDF] finds in favor of plaintiffs in the case, the Pulaski County Election Commission and against both the defendant, the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners, as well as the Republican Party of Arkansas which intervened on behalf of the Board of Election. In his Thursday ruling, Fox found the law to be “unconstitutional in that it violates Articles 3, Section 1 and Article 3, Section 2 of the Arkansas Constitution.”
It was a crisp mid-February day in the nation’s capital, but a hot topic at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee had a distinctly Sunshine State feel. A handful of Democratic political operatives, many of Florida’s congressional Democrats, and Nancy Pelosi, the House’s top Democrat from California, huddled in the offices of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2012 meeting to discuss an ongoing Florida redistricting lawsuit. On the agenda was an overview of the newest version of Florida’s congressional map, which was drawn as part of a lawsuit in a Tallahassee court challenging the redistricting process. Court documents and emails that are part of the redistricting lawsuit show that the map was drawn and paid for by Democratic consultants in consultation with the Florida Democratic Party, which is no longer involved in the lawsuit.
Guam: Center ensures accessible voting: Voters with disabilities are encouraged to vote | Pacific Daily News
The Guam Legal Services Corporation-Disability Law Center has a vested interest in accessible voting. Our office works to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to polls and cast private and independent ballots. The right to vote is an important issue for all citizens because it is our way of guaranteeing that the government hears our voices and provides for the needs of all individuals. This was the movement behind the American with Disabilities Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act, and the Help America Vote Act.
In the 1960s, Hawaii had the highest voter turnout in the nation. Fifty years later, it is now 50th among the 50 states. Now, state lawmakers are considering a measure to reverse the trend by allowing same-day voter registration. According to the State Elections Office, only 42 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2012 primary election. Just under 62 percent turned out in the general election. House Bill 2590 would allow voter registrations at early-voting sites in 2016, and same-day registration in 2018. Same-day voter registration is already allowed in eleven states and the District of Columbia.
Maryland’s top elections official expressed confidence Friday that the state will deliver absentee ballots to voters smoothly and on time despite a change in plans ordered just two months before the June 24 primary. The State Board of Elections decided this week not to move forward with a system that would have allowed voters who receive an absentee ballot through the Internet to mark their choices on a computer screen before printing the ballot and mailing it in. Linda H. Lamone, administrator of the elections board, said the agency will do what is needed to comply with the decision of the five-member panel. … Lamone and her staff have interpreted the board’s action as preventing them from offering the ballot-marking function — which had been eagerly anticipated by advocates for the disabled — but allowing them to go forward with the part of the system that would let any voter go online to ask for and receive an absentee ballot over the Internet. If that interpretation stands, the board decision will be a hollow victory for election security advocates who had opposed both parts of the system. Michael Greenberger, a University of Maryland law professor, said the delivery system opens the door to election fraud much wider than the marking tool would have. Greenberger contends that the two systems are inseparable and that the board’s decision to offer online delivery is inconsistent with state law. He said he does not plan to sue.
Utah: Grand and San Juan Counties switch to vote by mail system for all elections | Moab Times-Independent
Local voters who show up at the polls on June 24 will be in for a surprise. Both Grand and San Juan counties are switching to a vote-by-mail process this year, so primary and general election voters will no longer be able to cast their ballots in person. Anyone who is currently registered to vote should keep an eye out for official-looking letters from the counties, since those notifications will include important information about the vote-by-mail process. Grand County will be asking active voters to return signature verification cards. At the same time, it will also be mailing out separate notices to inactive voters who have not participated in the last two elections, according to Grand County Clerk Diana Carroll. Those who have not voted in the past two elections will be required to renew their voter registrations, according to information from the clerk’s office. Local residents can verify their voter information online at www.vote.utah.gov or by calling the Grand County Clerk’s Office.
Wisconsin may soon be in a minority of states that don’t allow voters to register online. The state, long considered a model for its high voter turnout and election administration, seems stubbornly old-fashioned as it sticks to paper registration while others move to online systems that are simpler, cheaper and less prone to errors, elections experts told lawmakers recently. Legislators from both parties have expressed interest in online registration, but progress has been stymied by a long-standing fight over same-day voter registration and other party divisions. Two bills that would have allowed online voter registration have failed to pass in the past four years, frustrating elections officials. “Online registration is no longer cutting-edge innovation. It is a well-established and essential tool,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board, which oversees Wisconsin’s elections. “We already have in place what we need to do. We need the legislative authorization to do this.” Eighteen states have already adopted online registration, with Arizona pioneering the approach in 2002 and others following since 2007. Four states have approved the method and are working on the systems. Fifteen more states, including Wisconsin, are considering legislation, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Afghan presidential race is set for a June runoff between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani, according to official results released Saturday. The preliminary tally showed Abdullah winning nearly 45% of the 6.9 million votes cast, and Ghani 31.5%. Election officials will examine hundreds of reports of voting irregularities before issuing final results on May 14, but the allegations didn’t appear widespread enough to change the results substantially — or to give Abdullah the absolute majority needed to avoid a runoff. The two men, both polished technocrats well known to the international community, had been regarded as the favorites in the April 5 election. Both have pledged to sign a security agreement that would allow some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014, a strategic priority for the Obama administration.
Voters lamenting that their names were missing from the electoral rolls was again a common sight across many polling stations in the city. Several people who had voted in the last election found their names missing from the voters’ list for no apparent reason. V. Ramesh, an APSRTC employee in Khairatabad constituency said, “I was out of town for a brief period and now my name is not there.” Engineering student Meghna wrote to this newspaper claiming, “I was unable to vote because of the sheer negligence of the government officers. Polling stations don’t have the list of newly registered voters.” Even IAS officer T. Radha found his name dropped from the list. Several people tried calling the toll free number of the Chief Electoral Officer, but it was unreachable. Some 300 voters from Pedda Bazaar, Chinna Bazaar and Veerabhadraiahnagar could not vote as their names were not there on the list, though they have cards.
Egypt: Presidential Election Commission announces presidential candidates, election details | Ahram Online
Hamdeen Sabahi and Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi are Egypt’s final contenders for the 2014 presidential race, the Presidential Election Commission’s (PEC) spokesman Abdel-Aziz Salman said in a press conference on Sunday. PEC – the judicial body supervising the polls – has examined the documents of both contenders and concluded that both candidates meet the eligibility requirements set by the commission, Salman said. Egypt’s elections will be held on 26 and 27 May. Salman also revealed further details of the presidential election process, including the election’s monitoring bodies and the voting process outside of Egypt. The commission has granted approval to six international organisations to monitor the elections and 79 domestic ones who met the requirements. A total of 116 Egyptian organisations applied for monitoring status.
This time, voters in Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency will be able to verify if their vote has been cast right. Once they press the button of their choice, a slip will be generated which will indicate the vote that has been actually cast by the EVM when the voter pressed the button. On a pilot basis, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is introducing ‘Voter Verifiable Paper Auditor Trail’ (VVPAT) system in eight Lok Sabha constituencies across the country and Gandhinagar is one of them. The VVPAT machine will be attached with the EVM and will generate slips like the receipts one gets at ATMs.
Macedonians began voting for a new assembly and president Sunday in a poll expected to cement the conservatives’ grip on power, despite a shaky economy and a stalemate in Skopje’s bid to join the EU. The legislative vote is being held a year ahead of schedule after the ruling VMRO-DPMNE failed to agree with its ethnic Albanian coalition partner, the DUI, on a joint presidential candidate. The run-off for a largely ceremonial post will be held between incumbent Gjorge Ivanov of the VMRO-DPMNE and his Social Democrat rival Stevo Pendarovski. Polling stations opened at 0500 GMT and will close twelve hours later. More than 1.7 million voters will elect a new 123-seat parliament chosing between 14 parties and coalitions. But opinion polls have given a strong lead to both Ivanov and the VMRO-DPMNE. The ruling party is credited with 28 percent of the vote against 15 percent for the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM).
The leading opposition party in Macedonia said Sunday that it will not recognize the result of snap parliamentary elections and a presidential run-off vote, claiming that the ruling VMRO party violated election rules. “The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and its allies will not recognize the election process, parliamentary and presidential,” SDSM leader Zoran Zaev said after polling stations closed. Zaev dismissed the official assessment by the state election commission that the vote was “fair and democratic,” insisting that Prime Minister Gruevski‘s conservative VMRO party abused their authority to secure a win. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski “does not have the elementary will to hold democratic elections,” he said, adding that the opposition will seek a repeat of the elections because violations disqualified Sunday‘s results.