National: Why dark money is likely to keep flowing in campaigns, in 1 Senate hearing | Washington Post

A Senate Rules committee hearing opened Wednesday with a big announcement: This year, Senate Democrats plan to hold a floor vote on a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to overturn Citizens United and other controversial Supreme Court campaign finance decisions. The next two hours illustrated why the bill has little chance of success in a divided Congress. The hearing was set to examine the influence of political groups financed by secret donors, but it did more to expose the current chasm between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to regulating money in politics. Those on the left – along with independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who chaired the session – spent the morning bemoaning the flood of unregulated money into campaigns. “I’m deeply worried about the future of our democracy,” said King, who later held up a chart showing a dizzying web of nonprofits that make up the political network backed by Charles and David Koch and other conservative donors. Those on the right used the session to decry campaign finance restrictions as attempts to curtail free speech. “Let’s stop pretending more speech somehow threatens our democracy,” said Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. He had his own chart: a blown-up text of the First Amendment.

Arkansas: Supreme Court stays portion of Voter ID ruling | Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Supreme Court today issued a split ruling on staying Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s ruling last week invalidating the state’s new Voter ID law. The effect seems to mean that, barring an uncommonly fast ruling, early voting could begin next week with the Voter ID law in effect. The court granted an expedited appea. Briefs are due by noon Friday and no motions for extension will be granted. The court granted a temporary stay of the portion of Fox’s ruling declaring Act 595 unconstitutional. Thus, a photo ID will be required of in-person early voters until and unless the Supreme Court upholds Fox. Early voting begins Monday. But the Supreme Court denied a stay of the part of the order also declaring rules promulgated by the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners unconstitutional and. These rules were adopted to fix a flaw in the law that didn’t give absentee voters an equal ability with in-person voters to produce identification to qualify a provisional ballot if the ID wasn’t submitted with the absentee ballot. In-person voters have a week to take an ID to a county clerk. Absentee voters who fail to include a valid ID in a mailed ballot don’t have that option.

Editorials: Judges dismantle voter ID laws while voting rights ‘advocates’ dither | Michael Hiltzik/Los Angeles Times

The saddest spectacle on the voting rights front lately has been the sight of progressive voting rights “reformers” giving up the fight against photo ID laws. In the front ranks of these sunshine patriots (to cadge a phrase from Thomas Paine) have been former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and former President Bill Clinton, who recently came out in favor of forcing the Social Security Administration to issue photo IDs to citizens who request them. The argument is that Republican-sponsored voter ID laws are here to stay, so we might as well just make it easier for people to get photo IDs so they can exercise their right to vote. (The argument is also advanced by political scientist Norman Ornstein, co-founder of a voting rights group called WhyTuesday, which is chaired by Young.) We’ve described the numerous drawbacks of this sort of capitulation here and here. We called the Social Security photo ID thing “a terrible idea,” which got Young’s troupe of loyal supporters all upset.  Now it turns out that photo ID laws may not, indeed, be here to stay. Over the last week, judges in three states have tossed them out, two of them on grounds that there’s no evidence that voter impersonation, the problem they supposedly address, even exists, and they’re plainly designed by the GOP to discourage voting by minorities and the poor. In other words, likely Democratic voters.

Arizona: Court upholds legislative district lines | Arizona Daily Sun

In a 55-page opinion, the three-judge panel acknowledged that some of the lines drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission created districts that were larger or smaller in population than others. And they said the evidence shows that “partisanship played some role in the design of the map.” But the court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to U.S. Constitution does not require that legislative districts have precisely equal population. Instead, the judge said, there can be “divergencies” that are necessary to achieve other goals. And in this case, they said, that the commission’s decision to manipulate the lines were “primarily a result of good-faith efforts to comply with the Voting Rights Act” and its prohibitions against diluting minority voting strength, and not primarily to give Democrats a political leg up.

Hawaii: Same-Day Voter Registration Approved | Maui Now

Hawaiʻi voters will soon have the opportunity to register to vote at early voting sites and polling places, under a measure that gained final passage in the Hawaiʻi Legislature. Representative Kaniela Ing of South Maui who introduced House Bill 2590 celebrated the bill’s passage saying in a press release announcement, “Hawaiʻi was number one for voter turnout during the 1960s. 50 years later, we are dead last.  This bill moves to end this shameful distinction and foster a stronger public voice. We need to take our turnout and turn it around.” Under the election reform measure, residents would be allowed to register to vote at early voting locations in 2016 and at all election day polling places in 2018.

Wisconsin: Voter ID law a burden to poor, minority voters, federal judge rules | Associated Press

A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law on Tuesday, declaring that 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. He said the law appeared too flawed to fix with legislative amendments. Adelman’s decision invalidates Wisconsin’s law and means voter ID likely won’t be in place for the fall elections, when Republican Gov. Scott Walker runs for re-election.

Wisconsin: Legislature cannot fix voter ID law before November election, leader says | Wisconsin State Journal

The leader of the state Senate said Wednesday that the Legislature will not go back into session to fix Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which was struck down Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said in an interview that although he supports the planned appeal of Adelman’s decision, Tuesday’s rejection of the law left little room for lawmakers to act. “I don’t see it (Legislature) coming back,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not going to be resolved for the November election.” Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, echoed that sentiment, saying that calling lawmakers back to Madison would be “an exercise in futility.” Any new law would have to be approved by Adelman, who not only struck down the voter ID law but also blocked the state from enacting any similar requirement, said John Ulin, an attorney who represented civil-rights groups and individuals challenging the law. “This pretty much ends the idea that we could come in and do something through a legislative effort that would make sense at this point,” Fitzgerald said.

Editorials: A Federal Judge Searches for Voter Fraud in Wisconsin and Finds None | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic

A long and bitter Wisconsin trial ended Tuesday afternoon with a sweeping defeat for supporters of a voter-ID law designed to make it more difficult for citizens to cast ballots. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman declared in a 90-page order that the state’s new voting restrictions violate both the equal-protection clause of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The law unduly burdens minority voters, he ruled, without sufficient justification for doing so. Adelman’s ruling will be appealed by the Republican officials who enacted it in 2011. It is far from certain that the ruling will withstand review by the very conservative 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or the even more conservative Supreme Court, which in 2008’s Crawford v. Marion County declared that state voter-ID laws could be constitutional. In the meantime, the law—which required all voters to present photo identification to vote—is enjoined from enforcement.

Editorials: Voter ID – Judge gets it right: strikes down voter ID law | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Wisconsin’s voter ID law suffered another welcome blow Tuesday when a federal judge struck it down, ruling that it violated the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. The law, ruled Judge Lynn Adelman, “results in the denial or abridgment of the right of black and Latino citizens to vote on account of race or color.” As we’ve argued for years, Adelman found that there really isn’t any voter fraud in Wisconsin that a voter photo ID could address — one of the key arguments of supporters of the law. Instead, a photo ID law places an undue burden on low-income people. A “substantial number” of the 300,000 eligible voters in the state who lack an ID are low income, the judge found, concluding that many of them “will be deterred from voting. Detecting and preventing in-person voter-impersonation fraud is a legitimate state interest,” he wrote. “However…because virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin and it is exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation will become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future, this particular state interest has very little weight.”

Fiji: Election official confirms polling will be more than one day | Islands Business magazine

The 2014 election will include a two week pre-polling period for voters in the remote parts of Fiji. Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem confirmed in a press conference in Suva today (Wednesday) that there could be a fortnight pre-polling period before September 17 to cater for voters who live in remote areas. “For instance you may seen that we have listed 174 venues for the eastern division and you have been hearing over past few days and months that there may be situation where pre polling could be done for remote locations. “We will go in advance of 17 September to conduct polling for voters in remote areas so it does not become an operational issue on September 17. “Pre polling is going to work in favour of those voters and assist the Fiji Elections Office in providing proper access for everybody.”

Iraq: Voters oblivious to attacks | Middle East Online

Braving the daily bombings that have scattered his 12 grandsons across Europe, Jawad Said Kamal al-Din, 91, hobbled to a Baghdad polling station on Wednesday to vote for “change”. At a VIP polling station in the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where reporters and photographers far outnumbered voters, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki proclaimed “certain” victory as he cast his ballot. But at the west Baghdad primary school where Kamal al-Din cast his vote, he and others queueing were adamant they wanted change after eight years of Maliki’s rule. They accused the premier of doing little to improve public services, curb rampant corruption or tackle the country’s worst violence in years. The threat of car bombs prompted authorities to impose a polling day ban on all vehicle traffic in and around the capital, forcing voters to walk to the polls.

South Africa: Expats’ troubled vote | Times Live

Hundreds of South African expats will be unable to vote in this year’s general election because of an alleged government communications botch up. Voters living abroad will go to the polls tomorrow, exactly a week before citizens at home do so. The miscommunication has been attributed to a failure by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and by the Independent Electoral Commission, to tell the expats that they must complete a form if they want to vote. The error, according to South Africa’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Jeanette Ndhlovu, has created a “problem everywhere”. “I’ve been in touch with my colleagues at other embassies and many other expats also failed to submit the VEC10 forms on time. It will not be possible for them to vote,” Ndhlovu told The Times. The form is a required notification to the IEC of intention to vote. It specifies where the voter wants to cast his ballot. The deadline for filling in the form was midnight on March 12.

Thailand: Prime Minister, Election Commission agree new vote in July, opposition defiant | Reuters

Thailand’s Election Commission and the prime minister agreed on Wednesday to hold a general election in July, but anti-government protesters who disrupted a vote in February said they still wanted to see electoral reforms before a new poll. The protesters have been trying to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra since November, part of a long-running crisis that broadly pits Bangkok’s middle class and royalist establishment against the mainly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. “The prime minister and the Election Commission agree on a July 20 election,” Puchong Nutrawong, secretary-general of the commission, told reporters after a meeting with Yingluck. He said the commission would ask the government to issue a royal decree and get the king’s endorsement for the vote. The cabinet, which must also sign off on an election, would probably consider the decree next week, he said.

District of Columbia: Elections officials change story on lags in April 1 primary tally, say big upgrade is needed | The Washington Post

D.C. elections officials offered an entirely new explanation Tuesday for the major vote-counting delays that plagued the city’s April 1 Democratic primary: The issue was not five mishandled electronic voting machines, but a broad computer network failure. The network failure was a mystery to elections officials as it unfolded, said Clifford D. Tatum, executive director of the Board of Elections. But its effect was abundantly clear to all involved on election night, when vote-counting — including ballots the city had accumulated during weeks of early voting — did not begin until almost 10.  Deborah Nichols, chairwoman of the elections board, said that at least $2 million in new electronic voting machines and server upgrades — and perhaps another $2 million in computers and other office improvements — would be needed to ensure timely reporting of results in future citywide elections.