Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on a constitutional amendment meant to reverse two recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign spending. Republicans are likely to vote against the amendment on a procedural vote that is expected to occur Thursday. Earlier this week, Republicans supported advancing the measure because they said it deserved debate — that move also tied up the Senate from considering anything else for nearly three days. Democrats have had less time to hold other political votes during the two-week session before adjourning for the midterm elections. Reid has said he also wants to hold votes on Democrats’ political priorities, such as equal pay for women and refinancing student loan rates.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday to debate a proposed constitutional amendment that would let Congress and the states put caps on political spending. But that’s probably the high-water mark for the amendment. When Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) called the vote tally, it looked like a big win for advocates of the constitutional amendment: 79 ayes, 18 nays. That’s a dozen votes more than the 67-vote majority needed to actually move the amendment out of the Senate and over to the House. But it was a strategic move as 25 of the Senate’s 45 Republicans voted aye. It allows the GOP to prolong the debate and spend less time on other measures that Democrats want to vote on before the midterm elections – measures such as equal pay for women and college affordability. Democrats pretty much ignored the stalling tactic and insisted this is an important vote. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said, “There are times when action is required to defend our great democracy against those who would see it converted into one more rigged game where the rich and the powerful always win. This is the time to amend the Constitution.” But setting the political gamesmanship aside, one question lingers. When pollsters ask Americans about the political money system, overwhelming percentages basically say they hate it. So why doesn’t Congress do something?
The state of Alaska is proposing several changes in how they deliver voting information to Alaska Natives whose first language is Yup’ik or Gwich’in. The state is offering the changes after a federal judge issued a decision in a voting rights lawsuit last week. U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason ordered the state to better help voters who speak Yup’ik and Gwich’in understand their ballots. Elizabeth Bakalar is the lead attorney for the state on the case. She says that the state is focused on three areas: “That voters need better information ahead of the election that language assistance is available, that outreach workers need to be better prepared to provide language assistance voters especially prior to election day and to better address certain dialectical differences. So those are the three areas which the interim remedies we’re proposing are meant to target and certainly any long term remedies would probably target those areas as well.” Bakalar explains, the state is preparing different versions of ballot language to send to tribal councils and outreach workers to reflect different dialects. She says they’re looking for feedback from speakers.
Connecticut voters face a question when they head to the polls this November – it’s a constitutional amendment to allow state lawmakers to consider new ways for voters to cast ballots. State Rep. Ed Jutila says Connecticut is currently one of only 14 states in the nation that limits voting to Election Day. He says the Constitution also limits absentee balloting. “Individuals either need to be out of town, sick, disabled,” he points out. “Or the tenets of their religion prohibit them from coming out to vote on that day. So, that’s what we’re faced with.”
Florida: Elections officials muse: Should ‘no selection’ be a choice for voters? | Naples Daily News
With thousands of voters skipping over races on last month’s primary election ballot, some political watchers are privately musing whether it’s time to just put a “none of the above” option on Florida ballots. In fact, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho says election officials have long kicked around the idea of whether to add a bubble for “no selection made.” “I wouldn’t call it ‘none of the above,’ though,” said Sancho, who was a key figure in the state’s 2000 presidential recount. “It’s too negative.” With “no selection made,” voters could signal they chose not to weigh in on a particular race rather than leaving to later interpretation whether they accidentally missed a race. That’s also seen as less contentious than a “none of the above” pick, which is viewed as a protest vote.
Channel 2 Action News has learned Georgia’s secretary of state is investigating allegations of forged voter registration applications and demanding records from a voter registration group with ties to one of the state’s highest ranking Democrats. A subpoena was sent to the New Georgia Project and its parent organization Third Sector Development on Tuesday. The organization is a project of the nonprofit organization Third Sector Development, which was founded and is led by House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. The subpoena demands all documents be turned over to the State Election Board’s investigators by Sept. 16.
Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor filed a legal challenge Tuesday with the Kansas Supreme Court to reverse a controversial decision by the Republican secretary of state preventing the Democrat’s withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race. Taylor, who won the Democratic primary in August, is seeking an emergency restraining order prohibiting Secretary of State Kris Kobach from including Taylor’s name on the Nov. 4 general election ballots. Kansas ballots need to be set by Sept. 18, but it is unclear when the court would convene to hear the case. “This is an important issue, not just for Kansas, but for our nation,” said Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, who filed the petition on Taylor’s behalf. “Because of this importance, I believe the best thing I can do is to reserve my comments and arguments for the Kansas Supreme Court.” In the petition naming Kobach as respondent, Irigonegaray wrote the secretary of state’s refusal to recognize Taylor’s departure from the race would “constitute the unlawful performance of his duties.” Taylor submitted documents Sept. 3 to Kobach’s staff to exit a compelling Senate race among himself, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, independent candidate Greg Orman and Libertarian Randall Batson. Employees in Kobach’s office accepted Taylor’s letter of withdrawal, but Kobach one day later declared Taylor had to remain on the ballot.
Kansas: Taylor asks Kansas Supreme Court to remove name from U.S. Senate ballot | The Kansas City Star
Democratic Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor is asking Kansas’ highest court to remove his name from the ballot for U.S. Senate in a race that could tilt the balance of power on Capitol Hill. Taylor filed a petition with the Kansas Supreme Court late Tuesday, charging that Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach had a conflict of interest when he decided that Taylor’s name should remain on the ballot. Taylor withdrew from the race last week, boosting independent Greg Orman’s campaign against Republican incumbent Pat Roberts in an unexpectedly close race that could decide which party runs the Senate. A new poll out this week showed the Roberts-Orman race tight and indicated that Taylor might draw as much as 10 percent of the vote — much of it away from Orman — if his name is on the ballot.
Mississippi: State Supreme Court sets schedule for Chris McDaniel appeal of election challenge | Associated Press
The Mississippi Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Oct. 2 as a candidate tries to revive a lawsuit that challenged his Republican primary loss to six-term Sen. Thad Cochran. The high court released on Tuesday a schedule for the appeal by state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Justices said they will handle the case quickly, as McDaniel requested. Justices gave McDaniel’s attorneys until Friday to file legal arguments in his appeal. They gave Cochran’s attorneys a Sept. 24 deadline to file arguments. The McDaniel camp must file a response to Cochran’s arguments by Sept. 26. Judge Hollis McGehee dismissed McDaniel’s lawsuit Aug. 29, saying McDaniel missed a 20-day deadline to challenge results of the June 24 runoff.
Attorney Matthew Monforton of Bozeman filed a federal lawsuit Monday, in District Court on behalf of the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee. It names Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and Ravalli County’s election administrator as defendants. Monforton is a State House candidate who successfully pushed the state Republican Party this spring to add support of closed primaries to its platform. Monforton said he filed the lawsuit with the 2016 elections in mind. He said he expects other county political committees to join it. McCullouch declined to comment, as did Ravalli County Elections Supervisor Regina Plettenberg. Ravalli County Republican Chairman Terry Nelson referred questions to Monforton.
North Carolina: Federal appeals court to weigh in on voter laws before November elections | News Observer
The NAACP and others challenging the sweeping changes to North Carolina election laws in 2013 will have an opportunity to make arguments to a federal appeals court that the November elections should be held under old laws. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set Sept. 25 as the date for oral arguments on the pros and cons of an emergency appeal filed in late August by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, registered Democrats in North Carolina and others. The hearing will be in Charlotte, according to documents filed in federal court Tuesday. Nearly a month ago, U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder rejected a similar request from the organizations and Democrats challenging the election law overhaul. Schroeder ruled the challengers had failed to make the case that voters would suffer “irreparable damages” if elections were held under the 2013 rules.
Democrats in the Ohio Senate on Tuesday called for a minimum number of early voting hours in the swing state, along with the flexibility for local elections boards to make their own schedules. The proposed legislation follows a federal court ruling last week in a dispute over two measures limiting early voting. One measure, a directive from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, established uniform early voting times and restricted weekend and evening hours. The other is a GOP-backed law that eliminates so-called golden week, when people could both register to vote and cast ballots. Without them, early voting would typically start 28 or 29 days before Election Day instead of the prior 35-day window.
A man who tried to vote at the Providence Board of Canvassers was initially denied a provisional ballot Monday — a violation of the voter ID law — according to the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. The man tried to cast an emergency vote, “but he did not have the proper ID, was not given a provisional ballot, but instead was told he was simply unable to vote,” the ACLU alleged in a news release. A witness drew the incident to a supervisor’s attention, and the man was provided with a provisional ballot, the ACLU statement said. “Although the error was resolved for this complainant,” the ACLU called the incident “a warning sign” on the day before the primary.
Wisconsin: Lawsuit Over Scott Walker Recall Election Probe To Be Argued In Appeals Court | Associated Press
Wisconsin prosecutors on Tuesday tried to persuade a federal appeals court to let them to resume their investigation of Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election campaign, in a case that touches on broader issues about just what constitutes constitutionally-protected political activity. In more than 90 minutes of questioning, three judges on a panel at the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago didn’t give a clear indication of which way they might be leaning. But two of the three repeatedly broached questions about whether federal judges should intervene in what appeared to be a state matter. When it comes to federal courts dictating to states about criminal investigations or anything else, Judge Frank Easterbook said, what precedent demands is, “Be modest. Be careful.” The arguments in a downtown Chicago building took place two months before Walker — a Republican seen as a potential 2016 candidate for president — faces a closely contested re-election against Democrat Mary Burke.
A well-known prison inmate and bush lawyer has appeared in court again, this time on a video screen, to fight for the right to vote in the election next week. From behind bars, Arthur Taylor took his fight to the High Court in Auckland today. It’s been many years since Taylor was allowed a say in who governs New Zealand, a country he says is now on the wrong side of history. “Its now one of the only countries in the Western world that is denying all prisoners the vote,” he told the court via video link as he sat at a desk wearing an orange prison jacket.
Sweden, seen for years as a beacon of stability and reforms in a crisis-ridden Europe, may be heading for political deadlock after Sunday’s general election, with polls suggesting that both right and left might be unable to form a stable government. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s center-right coalition is battling an opposition alliance led by the Social Democrats. But neither group looks set to win a majority – putting them at the mercy of more radical leftist or far-right parties. The Social Democrats, campaigning to spend more money on a welfare state that they founded in the last century, were the election favorites for months. But some polls suggest a once seemingly unassailable lead has narrowed, unsettling businesses and investors and even raising the prospect of a new vote. “It could be an Italian situation, something we’ve hardly ever experienced in Sweden,” said Magnus Henrekson, Director of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics. An increasingly likely scenario is that Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven will head the biggest party but struggle to cobble together a majority. Even if he won the support of a former communist party, he could still be in a minority against the far right and Reinfeldt’s coalition.
United Kingdom: Scottish independence: Britain faces ‘constitutional crisis’ at next election | The Independent
Ministers are under pressure to explain how they would respond if Scots vote for independence, as it emerged that Labour is on course to win the general election only because of its strong support in Scotland. The latest “poll of polls” for The Independent suggests that Ed Miliband will win an overall majority of 32 next May. But if Scottish MPs are excluded, there would be a hung parliament, with Labour three seats short of a majority. “Scotland is potentially critical to Labour’s ability to win an overall majority,” said John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who compiled the data. At present, Labour holds 41 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster and could land another five if the latest polls are reflected next May. Labour is on 35 per cent, the Conservatives 31 per cent, Ukip 13 per cent and the Liberal Democrats nine per cent.