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.”

Full Article: Supreme Court Rules States Can Bar Judicial Candidates From Soliciting Donations - WSJ.

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.”

Full Article: Supreme Court Upholds Limit on Judicial Fund-Raising -

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.”

Full Article: Casting Early Presidential Vote Through Facebook by Clicking ‘Unfollow’ -

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.

Full Article: Digital Democracy Or 21st-Century Electioneering | TechCrunch.

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.

Full Article: Of Politicians and Girl Scouts: First Thoughts on the Supreme Court's Judicial Campaign Finance Decision -.

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.

Full Article: Federal appeals court tosses Kentucky's ban on electioneering near polling places | Politics and Government |

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.

Full Article: Voter ID bill clears Maine Senate by 1 vote, faces poor prospects in House — Politics — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.

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.

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.

Full Article: State high court quickly ousts Shirley Abrahamson as chief justice.

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.

Full Article: Government proposes to give voting rights to NRIs - The Economic Times.

Nigeria: Social media helps curb Nigerian election deathtoll, paving future path | PCWorld

The dozens of deaths that marred the recent Nigerian elections would be considered shocking by the standards of most developed nations. Compared to past elections, however, the violence this time around was limited, and many observers say social media and technology such as biometric card readers played a big role in minimizing conflict. Online services are credited with keeping people informed during the runup to the elections, promoting the feeling they could communicate and express their views without resorting to violence, and other technology helped to ensure cheating would be kept to a minimum. Nigeria’s experience suggests that tech can play a role in reducing election-related violence in other countries.

Full Article: Social media helps curb Nigerian election deathtoll, paving future path | PCWorld.

South Korea: Vote counting broadcast live online | The Korea Times

The whole process of the by-elections, from voters entering polling stations to ballot-counting, was broadcast live online Wednesday. To improve transparency of the four by-elections in Seoul, Incheon, Seongnam and Gwangju, the National Election Commission (NEC) aired special programs live on its website, YouTube, Naver and Daum. The NEC said this was to earn people’s trust over the nation’s election system.

Full Article: Voting counting broadcast live online.

Togo: Opposition leader disputes vote results, says ‘I’m president’ | AFP

Togo’s opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre on Wednesday claimed he had won a weekend presidential vote, despite the electoral commission pronouncing victory for incumbent Faure Gnassingbe. Fabre denounced the results as “fraudulent” and a “crime against national sovereignty” after the electoral commission said he won 34.95 percent of the vote against Gnassingbe’s 58.75 percent. His party, the Combat for Political Change (CAP 2015), said it “categorically” rejected the results, asserting that they bore “no resemblance to those compiled from reports collected in polling stations by its representatives”. Fabre was asked whether he considered himself the new president of Togo and he replied: “Of course!” The opposition leader went into Saturday’s election looking to prevent Gnassingbe from securing a third term of office and end his family’s nearly 50-year grip on power of the tiny west African nation.

Full Article: Togo opposition leader disputes vote results, says 'I'm president' | Daily Mail Online.

National: Carter: Can’t afford to be president today | The Times-Tribune

Jimmy Carter didn’t hesitate when asked how he would feel about running for president today. “I couldn’t possibly do it, because I have very little money,” the 90-year-old said at a press conference during a recent visit to Wilkes-Barre. “And now it takes $200 million if you want any chance to get the Democratic or Republican nomination.” Since 1976, when Mr. Carter, a Democrat, became the 39th president of the United States, campaigns — and financing them — have changed dramatically. In the early 1970s, individuals and organizations were limited as to what they could contribute to political campaigns. But campaign financing has been reshaped over the past 40 years due to a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

Full Article: Carter: Can’t afford to be president today - News - The Times-Tribune.

Florida: House tightens cyber-security in online voter registration | Palm Beach Post

The Florida House agreed Tuesday to allow online voter registration but tacked on a provision aimed at heightening cyber-security — sending the measure back to the Senate for final approval. Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s top elections official and an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, has opposed the legislation, which sets online registration to begin in 2017. Detzner cautioned that problems could emerge with the measure that has drawn widespread support from lawmakers, county elections supervisors, and voter advocacy groups. The House approved the measure (CS/SB 228) 109-9 Tuesday. But the move came after Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, added a provision that authorizes the Scott administration to conduct a “comprehensive risk assessment” of online registration before the system is made available to the public.

Full Article: House tightens cyber-security in online voter registration | Post On Politics.

Florida: Online voter registration moves forward | Herald Tribune

Florida took another step toward becoming the 28th state to approve some form of online voter registration system Tuesday after legislation cleared the House with broad bipartisan support. The bill is strongly supported by local supervisors of elections, including those in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It tasks the state Division of Elections with developing a secure website for processing new voter registrations and updates to existing voter records. The legislation passed the Senate 34-3 on Monday but must go back for another vote after House Republicans added additional security measures to the proposal Tuesday.

Full Article: Online voter registration moves forward | April 28, 2015 | Zac Anderson | HT Politics.

Illinois: Group starts new bid to put redistricting on 2016 ballot | Associated Press

A coalition of business, clergy and civic leaders has launched a petition drive and fundraising efforts for a 2016 ballot question aimed at changing how Illinois draws political boundaries, an initiative group officials said Tuesday builds on a previous failed attempt. Independent Maps, which wants to take the mapmaking process out of the hands of politicians and give it to an independent commission, said the state’s once-a-decade process of redistricting is too political. The group bills itself as nonpartisan and board members include former Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, the Rev. Byron Brazier of Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God and former Playboy Enterprises CEO Christie Hefner.

Full Article: Group starts new bid to put redistricting on 2016 ballot | The Herald-News.

Kentucky: Appeals court: electioneering law unconstitutional |

A federal appeals court agreed with a lower court’s ruling that Kentucky’s electioneering laws banning campaign signs within 300 feet of a polling place was unconstitutional. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the last year’s federal district court’s ruling. The case was sparked by a Northern Kentucky business that displayed election signs on private property near a polling place. U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman in an October 2014 ruling found Kentucky’s electioneering sign law too broad. The law banned signs on public and private property within 300 feet of polling location. Kentucky’s attorney general and secretary of state appealed the ruling.

Full Article: Appeals court: KY electioneering law unconstitutional.

Missouri: Pleadings due today in Clay Chastain’s legal attempt to get Sly James off Jackson County ballot | The Pitch

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge has told Clay Chastain, April’s distant third-place finisher in the Kansas City mayoral primary, and attorneys for incumbent Sly James to file arguments to the court by the end of the day Tuesday about whether James should be disqualified as a candidate. Tuesday’s deadline is the first major step in Chastain’s bid to remove James from the ballot. Jackson County Judge Joel Fahenstock indicated on Monday that she might hold a hearing on Friday afternoon.

Full Article: Pleadings due today in Clay Chastain's legal attempt to get Sly James off the ballot | The Fast Pitch | The Pitch.

Texas: State Asks Appeals Court to Uphold Voter Photo ID Law | Associated Press

Supporters and opponents of a Texas law requiring specific forms of photo identification for voters faced close questioning in a federal appeals court Tuesday on whether the law was meant to discriminate against minorities and whether there are ways to remedy it. The U.S. Justice Department and others oppose the law as an unconstitutional burden on minority voters. The state of Texas says the law was aimed at preventing fraud. The state is appealing a federal district judge’s ruling last October that struck down the law. Judge Catharina Haynes, one of three judges hearing the Texas case at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, suggested in questioning that the matter should perhaps be sent back to the district court for further consideration. She noted that the Texas Legislature currently has several bills that that could broaden the number and types of ID voters could use to cast ballots.

Full Article: Texas Asks Appeals Court to Uphold Voter Photo ID Law - ABC News.