Political groups independent of candidates spent more than $814 million to influence congressional elections last month, a record for the midterms and nearly twice the spending in 2010, Federal Election Commission records show. The most obvious explanation for the rapid increase is the effect of the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court and the rise in spending by super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and unions. This year the groups jumped into Democratic efforts to maintain control of the Senate, and into the ultimately successful campaign by Republicans to retake it. The total includes Democratic and Republican party committees for House and Senate candidates, which are not permitted to coordinate with their candidates when making independent expenditures, but even excluding those four committees the amount ($605 million) would still be a midterm record. It does not include some groups, mostly non-profits, that spend money to influence elections without explicitly calling for the election or defeat of a candidate.
Arizona election law lies broken and in disarray after a federal judge’s decision. But it can be fixed easily. U.S. District Judge James Teilborg found that Arizona’s definition of a political committee is “vague, overbroad and consequently unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment.” With the definition tossed out, the rest of campaign law tumbles. You can’t place reporting requirements, contribution limits or deadlines on committees that no longer legally exist. That creates the potential for an election in which people can contribute as much as they want to candidates and issues, with nothing revealed to voters. That runs counter to a generation of law and policy that holds that transparency protects against corruption.
The voters couldn’t decide the race, so now it will be left up to chance. After a recount of all ballots today, the race for an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner race in Columbia Heights has ended in a rare tie, sending the two candidates to a casting of lots that by law has to occur at noon of a day designated by the D.C. Board of Elections. The race between incumbent Dyana Forester and challenger David Gilliland for the 1B06 seat was separated by a single vote after the Nov. 4 election results were certified last week, triggering a recount of the 582 ballots cast. But after that recount, which took place today, the two emerged tied, 204 to 204. (The remaining votes were for write-in candidates, and over- and under-votes.) One board official said it could be the first-ever tie for an ANC race in the city’s history, though that could not be immediately confirmed.
Indiana: Court hears appeal of ex-Indiana secretary of state, who’s fighting voter fraud convictions | Associated Press
An attorney for former Secretary of State Charlie White faced tough questioning Tuesday from Indiana’s three-judge appeals court during White’s latest bid to overturn the voter fraud convictions that forced him from office. Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik interrupted attorney Andrea Ciobanu only seconds after the attorney began her oral arguments and asked Ciobanu what her “strongest argument” was in White’s appeal of his convictions on six felony counts. Ciobanu said her most substantial argument in seeking to overturn White’s 2012 convictions is that the trial court in central Indiana’s Hamilton County failed to apply Indiana’s residency statute “at all” as his case played out. She said that left White unable to convey to jurors where his actual place of residence was as they heard evidence and eventually convicted him on three counts of voter fraud, two counts of perjury and one count of theft. “I think it’s difficult for the jury to make that decision based on the evidence they were presented and the limited information they were given and the misapplication of the law,” Ciobanu told the appeals court.
Maine: Mystery solved? Election officials say there may have been a mistake during recount | Portland Press Herald
There may have been a big mistake during the recount of the state Senate District 25 race. The Senate panel reviewing the contest on Wednesday opened the sealed containers containing ballots from Long Island. Here’s what happened when they did: A possible double-counting of ballots. The recount from Nov. 18 showed that there were 21 more ballots than voters who were checked off by the Long Island election clerk, Brenda Singo. All of those ballots were counted in separate lots of 50 ballots or less. On Wednesday, state officials opened the locked box for the first time since the recount found that one lot had 21 fewer ballots than it should have, while another had 21 more ballots than recorded on Election Day. Julie Flynn, the Deputy Secretary of State, said it was possible that the 21 ballots in dispute were double counted. “I’m chagrined to say so,” said Flynn, acknowledging that there could have been mistake by recount officials. She added, “I believe we made an error at the recount. I have not seen this happen in 26 years.”
Editorials: Our View: Long Island ballot recount triggered hasty claims of fraud | The Portland Press Herald
It had all the makings of the rarest of rare events – a political scandal in Maine. The recount in a hotly contested state Senate race with a razor-thin winning margin found that there were more ballots cast than voters who showed up to cast them in the small town of Long Island. The disputed votes were enough to snatch victory from Democrat Cathy Breen and give it to Republican Cathy Manchester, the last indignity of an election that had many of them for Democrats. Critics wanted a thorough investigation. Some wanted to see subpoenas issued, voters canvassed, ballots dusted for fingerprints. They wanted an inquiry that got to the bottom of the controversy, not just some quickie review. And they got part of their wish. The committee did get to the bottom of the controversy Tuesday, but it certainly didn’t take very long. It turns out all the panel had to do was open the box of ballots and look inside.
The recount in the race for New Mexico land commissioner is a step closer to getting underway. The state canvassing board met Tuesday and signed off on an agreement that spells out how the recount will proceed. At issue was how many ballots would be used to test the tabulating machines that will be used in the recount. The agreement came after several days of negotiations. Incumbent Democrat Ray Powell said Tuesday evening that his attorney was reviewing the agreement and he planned the drop his case before the state Supreme Court on Wednesday. That will clear the way for the recount to begin Thursday. “Our intention is to ensure an open and transparent process and that every vote is counted,” Powell said. The latest totals provided by the secretary of state’s office show Republican Aubrey Dunn leading Powell by several hundred votes, a margin so small it triggered an automatic recount under state law.
A Multnomah County judge on Tuesday rejected an effort by supporters of Ballot Measure 92 to prevent the state from certifying the results of a recount. Judge Henry Kantor denied supporters’ request, as part of a lawsuit filed Monday, for a temporary restraining order. That leaves the Secretary of State’s Office on track to certify results from a recount early next week. Most counties have finished their recounts — with no sign of changing the measure’s failure in the Nov. 4 election — and the rest have been asked to turn in results by Friday. Supporters of the measure to require labeling of genetically modified foods argued in the lawsuit that the state and Multnomah County unfairly rejected about 4,600 valid ballots because the signatures on the ballots didn’t match voter card signatures on file. Because the GMO labeling measure failed by just 812 votes out of 1.5 million cast — and is headed for a similar result in the recount — supporters argued that the ballots could change the outcome.
US Virgin Islands: Judge grants restraining order forcing Elections Board to let public watch recount | Virgin Islands Daily News
A judge on Monday granted a temporary restraining order and an injunction requested by The Virgin Islands Daily News and ordered the St. Croix Board of Elections to allow public access to the recount process. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said Monday afternoon that the board will get whatever measures are necessary to accommodate the public in place before resuming the recount. A press release will be issued to notify the public when the recount will continue, she said. The Daily News on Friday filed a complaint in V.I. Superior Court, petitioning the court for the temporary restraining order and emergency injunctive relief, after the St. Croix Board of Elections on Thursday booted the public and the media out of the conference room where a recount of votes for certain candidates was starting.
By law, Canada’s next federal election will take place Oct. 19, 2015. But taking no chances, Elections Canada will be election-ready on March 1. The “readiness date” appeared in an Elections Canada tender last week for multimedia kits — including USB keys preloaded with information about political financing — for distribution to federal political parties. But that doesn’t mean the agency necessarily expects an election to occur before next Oct. 19, as called for in Canada’s fixed date election law, spokeswoman Diane Benson said. “That’s a regular part of planning,” Benson said. “You need to have readiness dates, because our mandate is to be ready.”
With the formal start of electioneering at midnight Monday for the Croatian presidential election set for 28 December, the presidential candidate of the strongest opposition Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, began her whistle-stop tour in her hometown of Drazice, where she promised that if she won the election she would complete the job which the first president, Franjo Tudjman, had started steering the country towards prosperity, while the incumbent head of state, Ivo Josipovic, embarked on his hustings tour at noon Tuesday in downtown Zagreb where he boarded a bus that will transport him and his team through Croatia in the next 18 days of campaigning. Josipovic, who was seen off by Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic, said he was starting the tour from the same place, the square outside the law school and the Croatian National Theatre, from where he started the campaigning for his first term five years ago.
What starts with a tingle of excitement, is followed by a surge of activity, frantic yelling and empty promises, but is quickly spent, leaving you feeling just as empty and unfulfilled as before? Answer: a Japanese election. While it took some Americans well into the second term of President Barack Obama’s “change you can believe in” presidency to realize that voting may be a waste of time, decades of rule by an unchanging coven of bureaucrats and Liberal Democratic Party parliamentarians have given the Japanese more time to become accustomed to the impotence of their own democratic processes. Still, you would be hard-pressed to identify a more flaccid poll than the one that will reach a predictable climax on Sunday. Unleashed abruptly after some desultory denials-as-foreplay, the Nov. 21 dissolution of the Diet was so sudden that it will apparently disenfranchise the crews of long-distance Japanese fishing boats that had already left port when faxable ballots were made available. Of course, even if they had received them, how could the nation’s piscators know how to vote, out there on the empty sea with nary a candidate driving by in a sound truck screaming their name and party affiliation?
Mauritians lined up to vote on Wednesday in a parliamentary election that could lead to more powers being granted to the president if the ruling Labour Party wins. Six hours after polls opened at 7 a.m. (0300 GMT) about 28 percent of the roughly 936,000 eligible voters had cast ballots, the electoral commission said. Polls close at 6 p.m. with results due out on Thursday. Mauritius has expanded as an offshore financial centre, spurring construction of tower blocks in the capital Port Louis, in recent years. But workers in the tourism, sugar and textile industries, the other economic mainstays, often complain they have been left behind. “The biggest challenge for whichever coalition wins this election will be to ensure a better distribution of wealth,” voter Karl Constant said after casting his ballot.