Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen are asking a federal court to reinstate Wisconsin’s voter ID law, but they have not finalized a plan to comply with a different court’s decision requiring the state to provide IDs to people who don’t have birth certificates. The state Supreme Court last month upheld the voter ID law, but the requirement to show photo ID at the polls remains blocked because a federal judge has found it violates the Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution. A new court filing suggests the voter ID law is unlikely to be put in place for the Nov. 4 election, when the GOP governor faces Democrat Mary Burke. She opposes the voter ID law. State officials say they need to know soon whether the law will be in effect so they can retrain poll workers and send out absentee ballots with the proper information. But the federal appeals court has said it won’t rule on reinstating the voter ID law until at least Sept. 12 — around the time absentee ballots will be mailed out. “I just can’t imagine that this could be implemented by the November election without creating a huge mess,” said Daniel Tokaji, an election law professor at Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. “I think it would be imprudent to put it mildly to try to implement this law pursuant to an order issued after Sept. 12. I think that’s just asking for trouble.”
National: Ballot initiatives become pricey playgrounds of parties and corporations | The Washington Post
In a midterm election season when control of the United States Senate hangs in the balance, Democrats are increasingly turning to ballot measures to get otherwise reluctant voters to the polls. Big Business is, too: Some of the most expensive races in the country this year will be ballot measures written by, and for, major corporations. Some the hardest-fought ballot battles of 2014 won’t involve candidates at all. They’ll be questions that come with big implications for corporate bottom lines — or promise big benefits to political strategists, especially Democrats, looking to drive turnout for other races. For the first time in history, spending on the approximately 125 ballot questions facing voters in 41 states is likely to top $1 billion in campaign spending this year — and perhaps much more: Oil and gas companies in Alaska spent more than $170 for every vote they won in a successful campaign to reject higher taxes earlier this month.
Editorials: People hate politics. So why is nobody talking about campaign finance reform? | Jaime Fuller/The Washington Post
After more than a year of campaigning, New Hampshire Senate candidate Jim Rubens (R) has decided on his closing message: the “disconnect between voters in New Hampshire and politicians in Washington, D.C.” He was campaigning in Groveton, a small town of about 1,000 near the Canadian border, when he walked into a diner (as all candidates in New Hampshire inevitably do). “The entire room erupted,” the former state senator said. “People were ready to vent their frustrations. I’ve been involved with politics in this state for 20 years, and I’ve never felt the dissatisfaction more than I do now.” His anecdotal evidence is backed up by empirical data; when Gallup asked Americans what the top problem facing the nation was, many of the top answers have been variations on grumbling about the state of government today.
The interim county elections director and two independent monitors of the elections office believe they may have narrowed down where things went wrong during Tuesday’s Primary Election, which resulted in erroneous data being added to the Secretary of State’s election results. After the polls close, data is transferred electronically via modem from the ballot counting machines to the elections office. That data is then received and tabulated by an Election Systems & Software program, placed on a thumb drive, transferred from the thumb drive to a server, which then sends the data on to the state. “Somehow, when the information on the server went to the state elections system, that number got corrupted,” said Jim Vlahovich, interim director of the Cochise County Elections Office. … Elections office staff first noticed that something may be wrong on Tuesday night, when the print out of the results reported an abnormally high voter turnout of 62 percent. Then, this morning, calls to the elections office prompted further inspection, resulting in the discovery that the server used to transfer the voting data to the state had crashed.
Guam: Plebiscite appeal heard: 9th Circuit judges take on political status vote | Pacific Daily News
The Office of the Attorney General yesterday defended Guam’s Decolonization Registry against claims that it discriminates along racial lines. A panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit yesterday heard arguments in that case and two other cases during a special hearing at the U.S. District Court of Guam in Hagåtña. It was the first time since 2002 that a panel of judges from the appellate court heard arguments here. The court has jurisdiction over federal courts in nine states, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. Among the cases judges heard yesterday was Davis v. Guam, which challenges the constitutionality of the Guam Decolonization Registry.
Illinois: Christie Slams Effort To Boost Voter Turnout For 2014 Election As Democratic ‘Trick’ | International Business Times
During a campaign stop in Illinois on Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decried efforts to simplify voter registration. He suggested that the higher voter turnout produced by such efforts is harmful to Republican candidates, and that Illinois’ new same-day voter registration statute is a Democratic “trick.” Referring to Illinois joining other states — including many Republican-led ones — in passing a same-day voter registration law, Christie said: “Same-day registration all of a sudden this year comes to Illinois. Shocking. It’s shocking. I’m sure it was all based on public policy, good public policy to get same-day registration here in Illinois just this year, when the governor is in the toilet and needs as much help as he can get.” … Christie, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, denounced the effort to boost voter turnout as an underhanded Democratic tactic. (The Illinois State Board of Elections is composed equally of Democrats and Republicans, according to the Chicago Tribune.) Referring to the same-day voter initiative, Christie said Quinn “will try every trick in the book,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Christie said the program is designed to be a major “obstacle” for the GOP’s gubernatorial candidates. In fact, most of the 11 states with same-day registration laws currently have Republican governors.
Disgraced politician Charlie White is seeking to reinvent himself — as a tell-all political blogger. His target: His Republican colleagues, among others. The former Indiana Secretary of State recently launched The Indy Sentinel, a new website about “pols and media who are fair & those who live to serve the elites in both parties to the public’s detriment,” according to his Twitter account. White, who was convicted of theft and voter fraud in 2012, said he plans to ramp up the website in the coming weeks — as soon as he finishes a reply brief for one of his ongoing legal cases. Right now, the site has just two articles, including one about campaign donations to Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and the state’s Stellar Communities grant program.
The attorney representing five people who allegedly voted despite having felony convictions is asking the court to throw out the cases. The five — Ricco Cooper, Robert Earl Anthony, Harold Redd Jr., Rosa Wilder and Glen Tank — are charged with election misconduct for allegedly voting in the 2012 general election without having their voting rights restored. On Monday, the five watched in Black Hawk County District Court as a judge set deadlines for the legal challenges.
After years of fierce debate, the battle over whether to build casinos in Massachusetts is finally being taken to the people. Barbara Anderson is the executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, a group that has pushed to get a number of initiatives on the ballot over the years. “We go in to vote, and we have to think about is ‘is this a good idea or is this a bad idea? Legislators, they have to think about all kinds of stuff when they’re voting. How does the leadership want me to vote, how can I trade this vote with somebody else’s vote, am I raising money on this issue and what side does the money want me to vote on,” Anderson said. The power to collectively make state law is not something all American voters have. Half the states in the union allow it. Half don’t. Remarkably, here in New England, the bastion of direct democracy, Maine is the only other state where it happens. “At least the voters have a voice. In other states there’s nothing they can do about anything except elect leaders who promise they will deal with these issues.”
Incumbent Thad Cochran is on the November ballot as the GOP U.S. Senate candidate unless a court orders otherwise, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said, and voting will start in September. The Board of Election Commissioners – Hosemann, Gov. Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood – approved a ballot for Nov. 4 with no discussion of Chris McDaniel’s lawsuit challenging his primary loss to Cochran. The ballot includes Democrat Travis Childers, Reform Party Shawn O’Hara and Republican Cochran for Senate. A subordinate filled in for Hood at Tuesday’s meeting. McDaniel’s lawyers last week asked for an injunction preventing Hosemann from sending out general election ballots until McDaniel’s challenge is decided. The judge declined.
Editorials: End of straight-ticket voting in North Carolina tinged with racial, age bias | Bob Hall/News Observer
Tucked deep inside North Carolina’s election revision law that has stirred great passion is a provision that barely gets noticed. It’s not part of any lawsuit, but it eliminates a method of voting that affects more people than nearly any other part of the new law. This change also illustrates how lawmakers can manipulate rules to harm one group of voters but wind up harming a large number of their own supporters, too. In 2012, a solid majority – 56 percent – of North Carolina voters marked one box on their ballots to indicate their choices in more than a dozen races, from governor to county commissioner. It’s called straight-ticket voting, and in 2012 it involved 1.4 million ballots for Democratic candidates and 1.1 million for Republicans. In an ideal world, our schools, TV stations and other media would teach people about civics and citizenship, the importance of voting, the candidates and offices on the ballot, and how to determine who’s a goat, not just a donkey or elephant. Instead, voting is discounted, and contests are covered like a horse race – who’s ahead in the polls and who’s got the most money behind him.
US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas Elections Board finally officially certifies primary results | Virgin Islands Daily News
Uncertain of the legality of the board’s initial “certification” last week of the St. Thomas-St. John District primary election, the board certified the election again during a meeting Monday. Still, one board member, several candidates and several members of the public, at least, are questioning whether the election was legitimate – despite two rounds of certification. “Anything after the deadline makes it illegal,” said board member Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, the single board member present to abstain from voting to approve the official certification of the election on Monday. Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr., Vice-chairman Harry Daniel, Secretary Claudette Georges, member Lydia Hendricks and member Larry Boschulte were also present and voted to certify the election. The board initially convened in a special meeting Monday to ratify the original certification actions taken by the board, in which Daniel, Georges and Boschulte voted to certify the election a week ago, along with member Alecia Wells, who attended the meeting via teleconference and cast her vote via an electronic signature sent over a fax machine.
The Attorney General’s Office is reviewing evidence of alleged voter fraud in Fairfax County, where the Virginia Voters Alliance has identified 17 individuals who voted in both Fairfax County and various localities in Maryland during the 2012 General Election. “This office takes all allegations seriously even though incidents of voter fraud are statistically very rare,” Michael Kelly, spokesman for Attorney General Mark R. Herring, said in an email Tuesday. “We will review any evidence and, if further investigation is warranted, will work within our statutory authority with local or federal partners.” The Fairfax County Electoral Board has also referred the allegation to the Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney and the federal Department of Justice for further investigation.
Last week’s federal court ruling ordering Yakima to discard at-large citywide elections in favor of a more representative process prescribes a needed fix, but leaves much of the rest of the state underrepresented at the local government level. The vast majority of Washington cities use at-large voting systems. That’s democracy, but not the most representative democracy. Subtly, and sometimes intentionally, at-large elections leave distinct geographic communities completely unrepresented. It’s why Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The full audit of the about 8 million votes cast in the second round of Afghanistan’s presidential election will continue “without the direct physical engagement” of the two candidates’ observers, the United Nations said Wednesday. The announcement came hours after Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who led April’s first-round vote but reportedly was losing in the initial count from the second round, ordered his team to stay away from the audit. Abdullah’s camp charged in a statement that the review was “built in a one-sided manner” favoring his rival, Ashraf Ghani. Muslim Saadat, a spokesman for the Abdullah team, said there remained “a few points to find solutions to” in the audit process, but that talks between the Abdullah and Ghani camps were ongoing. Nicholas Haysom, deputy special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Afghanistan, announced that the audit would go on without observers from both camps. Haysom said one of the concerns raised by the Abdullah team would be given “serious consideration.” Neither he nor Saadat would elaborate on the unresolved issues. So far, ballots in 72 boxes have invalidated and another 697 boxes have been sent for recount.
Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election was rocked by more turmoil on Wednesday as both candidates vying to succeed Hamed Karzai pulled their observers out of a ballot audit meant to determine the winner of a June runoff. First, Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, pulled his monitors from the audit to protest the process that his team claims is fraught with fraud. Then, the United Nations, which is helping supervise the U.S.-brokered audit, asked the other candidate, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, to also pull out his observers in the interest of fairness. The U.N. team said the audit then proceeded without both candidates’ teams. It was not immediately clear if the pullout meant the two candidates would reject the audit results — and thereby also the final result of the election. That could have dangerous repercussions in a country still struggling to overcome ethnic and religious divides and battling a resurgent Taliban insurgency.
Known for its casinos and conservative society, the city-state of Macau is a magnet for the rich in search of decadent fun. It is rarely the site of political protest. But on August 25th around 1,000 of Macau’s dealers and servers took to the streets to demand pay hikes and better working conditions. They are among those who support an unofficial referendum on Macau’s political future, which began on August 24th at polling stations and online. Jason Chao, a 29-year-old software developer and the president of the Open Macau Society, a local pro-democracy group which helped sponsor the poll, hoped it would “help people draw connections between things like inflation and high cost of housing and the political system.” The poll asked residents if they support universal suffrage by 2019; and whether they have confidence in Macau’s current chief executive, Fernando Chui, who is running unopposed for re-election later this week, on August 31st—the same day the poll results are due to be released.
While most Swedes wait until the elections are on the doorstep, the polls are now open for those who’ve made up their mind already. But early voting has become all the more popular in Sweden, reported the TT news agency. In the 2010 elections, 39.4 percent of voters cast their ballot early, compared to just 31.8 percent in 2006. This year, voting cards have been sent out to 7.6 million Swedes. There are around 3,000 spots around the country where they can cast their early votes, too.
South Dakota’s Libertarian Party asked a federal judge Wednesday to stop Secretary of State Jason Gant from printing November general election ballots without the name of its candidate for the state Public Utilities Commission. Gant last week ruled Ryan Gaddy ineligible to run for the office, saying Gaddy didn’t comply with a state law that requires candidates to be members of the party that nominates them. Gaddy changed his party affiliation from Republican at the Libertarian convention, but the official paperwork wasn’t filed until later. That meant Gaddy was still a Republican at the time of his Libertarian nomination, a violation of state law, according to Gant.