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National: Supreme Court Rules States Can Bar Judicial Candidates From Soliciting Donations | Wall Street Journal

A divided Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states can prohibit judicial candidates from soliciting campaign donations, rejecting arguments such bans violate the free-speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court’s majority in a 5-4 opinion, said judges aren’t politicians, even when they join the bench by way of an election.“A state’s decision to elect its judiciary does not compel it to treat judicial candidates like campaigners for political office,” the chief justice wrote. “A state may assure its people that judges will apply the law without fear or favor—and without having personally asked anyone for money.” Read More

National: Supreme Court Upholds Limit on Judicial Fund-Raising | New York Times

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that states may prohibit judicial candidates from personally asking their supporters for campaign contributions. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority. “A state’s decision to elect judges does not compel it to compromise public confidence in their integrity,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia said the decision was a disguised attack on judicial elections that “flattens one settled First Amendment principle after another.” Read More

National: Casting Early Presidential Vote Through Facebook by Clicking ‘Unfollow’ | New York Times

The arguments on Facebook regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s announcement that she was running for president began politely at first but slowly grew more vitriolic with each back and forth. Eventually, Madison Payne, a 27-year-old from Tyler, Tex., had had enough. So she took revenge against the Clinton opponents, simply clicking “unfollow.” “If I see somebody that is just so hateful, then of course I’m going to unfollow them,” said Ms. Payne, whose “friend” count on Facebook has dwindled since Mrs. Clinton’s announcement. “I’ve lost touch with many great childhood friends of mine due to social media providing a platform for political discussion.” Read More

National: Digital Democracy Or 21st-Century Electioneering | TechCrunch

It’s fair to say that Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential bid marked a watershed moment for political campaigners. This was a campaign covered in Silicon Valley’s fingerprints, characterized as it was by its widespread use of technology to capture and record data to deliver targeted messages to voters. As one former Obama campaign manager said: “We stopped thinking in terms of ‘soccer moms’ and started thinking instead about ‘Mary Smith at 37 Pivot Street.’” What was once done with pen and paper is now being done in real time and at a staggering pace, providing politicians and their election teams with a far richer picture of voters than previously possible. Next month will see the UK head to the polls for its first general election since 2010, which has been described as one of the most unpredictable in living memory. Throughout Westminster, political parties are putting their faith in technology to gain an edge over their rivals, defend vulnerable seats and better connect with the electorate. Both Labour candidate Ed Miliband and Prime Minister David Cameron have hired former Obama advisers to head up their campaign teams, which look to replicate the success of Democrats in securing key votes. Read More

Voting Blogs: Of Politicians and Girl Scouts: First Thoughts on the Supreme Court’s Judicial Campaign Finance Decision | More Soft Money Hard Law

The Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence has come under just criticism for its incoherence, and today’s decision on judicial campaign finance does not mark a step toward improvement. There is much to be said about the case, but a good starting point is the question of whether Chief Justice Roberts is right to say—in fact, to assert flatly—that “judges are not politicians.” Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, No. 13-499, slip op. at 1 (2015). The Chief Justice is joined in this view, quite emphatically, by Justice Ginsburg, who argues, as she has before, that judges do not participate in representative democratic processes—and so are not properly seen to be politicians. Over a decade ago, in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, Justice Scalia, then writing for the Court, had countered that the distinction drawn between judicial and other elections had been exaggerated: “the complete separation of the judiciary from the enterprise of “representative government”…is not a true picture of the American system.” 536 U.S. 765, 784. In the case today, the Court doubles down on the contrary proposition. Read More

Kentucky: Federal appeals court tosses Kentucky’s ban on electioneering near polling places | Lexington Herald-Leader

Three weeks before Kentucky’s May primary election, a court ruling Tuesday means the state no longer has a ban on electioneering near polling places. The ruling by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld, in full, an October ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky that declared unconstitutional a state law that bans electioneering within 300 feet of polling places. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office said it was reviewing the latest ruling. Conway has said a buffer zone from electioneering is an important safeguard against abuse. Read More

Maine: Voter ID bill clears Senate by 1 vote, faces poor prospects in House | Bangor Daily News

By a single vote, the Maine Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would require voters to produce a photographic identification at the polls when voting. The 18-17 vote followed a lively floor debate in which Republican supporters of the bill argued protecting the integrity of the state’s voting system was their primary objective. If the bill, LD 197, were to pass into law, Maine would become the 32nd state to require some form of photo identification at the polls. The bill’s sponsors said that voting should be treated the same as other activities that require proof of identity, including buying alcohol, cigarettes or being allowed to vote in a union election. Read More

Missouri: Expanded voting rights, registration for military voters sent to governor | Associated Press

Military voters returning from service would have a longer window to register to vote in Missouri elections under a measure headed to the governor’s desk. The Missouri Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow military and overseas voters to participate in elections for statewide offices, the state Legislature and statewide ballot initiatives. Currently those voters are allowed to vote only in federal elections. Read More

Wisconsin: State high court quickly ousts Shirley Abrahamson as chief justice | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court picked Justice Patience Roggensack as their new leader Wednesday, dumping longtime Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson after voters approved changing how the head of the court is selected. Four justices on the seven-member court voted to put Roggensack in charge just hours after state election officials certified the April 7 referendum results, allowing court members to choose the chief justice. For the past 126 years, the state constitution had the most senior member of the court serve as chief justice. The vote for Roggensack comes at a time when the court has been roiled by ideological and personal differences, and as Abrahamson has pursued litigation to remain chief justice until her elected term ends in 2019. Read More

India: Government proposes to give voting rights to Non-Resident Indians | The Economic Times

The government today agreed to convene an all-party meeting to discuss its proposal to give NRIs the right to exercise their franchise by e-postal ballots or through proxy voting. Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda accepted the demand of opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha that their views should be taken into consideration while enacting a legislation to grant voting rights to NRIs and domestic migrant labour. Replying to a calling attention motion moved by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Law Minister made it clear that the government was acting on the Election Commission report regarding voting rights of over one crore NRIs and not as directed by the Supreme Court. Read More