The money hunt for the 2016 election cycle is in full swing, and there is no surer sign of it than the first complaints recently filed by reform organizations. While, as in the past, there is intense interest in the likelihood of record-breaking sums and innovative spending strategies, this year, perhaps more than in the past, attention has turned to transparency. “Dark money” is dominating the campaign finance lexicon. Current conversations on this topic have a Groundhog Day quality, and it seems that they are stuck between the dreary and the dreadful. Part of the problem is that nearly 40 years ago, the Supreme Court limited the objective of campaign finance regulation to the prevention of corruption or its appearance, and decades of debate ensued about what is and what is not corruption. And all this in the service of identifying when candidates and political parties come under the “undue influence” of money.
What’s good for Arizona Republicans could spell trouble for their California counterparts if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit over political redistricting. Before its term ends in June, the high court is expected to issue a ruling in a case brought by Arizona’s GOP-controlled legislature, which is challenging the legality of the state’s redistricting commission. The plaintiffs contend the U.S. Constitution gives legislators the sole authority to approve congressional district boundaries. The commission’s supporters maintain that Arizona’s voters, who approved the commission at the ballot box, have the right to choose who draws those districts.
Connecticut: Judge To Rule Tuesday On Whether Hartford Council Can Remove Registrars | Hartford Courant
A Superior Court judge is expected to rule Tuesday on whether the city council has the authority to remove Hartford’s three registrars of voters. Judge Constance Epstein will also decide whether to grant an injunction, sought by attorneys for the registrars, that would stop the removal hearings from going forward. The hearings are scheduled to begin Tuesday at 3 p.m.. A decision by Epstein on whether the hearings may move forward is expected by 2:30 p.m., the judge has said. The council in January began the process of seeking to remove the registrars — Democrat Olga Vazquez, Republican Sheila Hall and Working Families Party member Urania Petit — following problems on Election Day that caused some polling places to open late, delaying voting.
Illinois: Woodford may also ask Aaron Schock to help defray cost of special election and primary | Peoria Journal Star
Woodford County could become the second county in the 18th Congressional District to ask former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock to pony up for special election expenses. The county finance committee approved Monday a measure that will be taken before the full board next month that, if approved, will make a request to Schock to reimburse the county up to $125,000 in costs for a primary and election to replace him. Schock’s resignation became effective April 1, vacating the seat the Peoria Republican held in Congress for six years. His replacement must be selected by his constituents in a costly election not planned during the last budget cycle.
In the Mississippi Senate, elections bills aren’t sent to the Senate Elections Committee for debate and passage. They’re sent there to die. Senate Elections didn’t even hold a meeting this legislative session. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Senate Elections Chairman Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, have been at political odds for years, and McDaniel has been back-benched. When Reeves routes a bill to Elections, it’s “double-referred” to other committees first. The bills don’t clear those committees, so McDaniel’s doesn’t even get a crack at voting on them. If there is by chance an elections measure that Reeves might consider, he routes it to another committee.
Usually, a 2 percent response rate is not considered a success, but it is for a Texas pilot program that allows soldiers in combat zones to cast ballots via email. State lawmakers passed a bill in 2013 directing the secretary of state to allow one county in Texas to allow soldiers in hostile fire zones to cast email ballots. Then-Secretary of State John Steen chose Bexar County, home of San Antonio and the 50,000 enlisted military members of Joint Base San Antonio, to be the first for the program.
Voting in Arlington will go back to the future this year when the county introduces paper balloting to replace the touch-screen boxes it has been using for years. The paper ballots will be digitally scanned and allow more voters to vote faster, and provide a hard copy of ballots in case of technical malfunctions, Arlington County said in a press release. It’s the first time the county has used paper ballots since 1950, county General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com. The county was forced to make the purchases by a ruling by the Commissioner of Elections recommending the electronic WinVote machines be decertified and prohibited.
Virginia: Lynchburg-area election officials ‘very concerned’ over report critical of touchscreen system | News & Advance
Local election officials were taken aback by a new report that could lead to the elimination of a touchscreen voting system used in nearly 30 Virginia localities — including Appomattox County, Nelson County and Lynchburg. “We are very concerned,” said Mary Turner, secretary of the local electoral board in Appomattox. “… We’ve been using these machines for many years, and we’ve not had any problems with them.” The report, released last week by the Virginia Department of Elections, questioned the security and reliability of the WinVote touchscreen voting machine. It specifically found that a WinVote’s wireless network — a feature unique to this model — may make it prone to crashing and vulnerable to cyberattack.
New elections will be held for all seven Yakima City Council seats this year regardless of whether the city appeals a federal judge’s order requiring a new election system, council members said Monday. And the council will see at least two new faces. Councilmen Rick Ensey and Dave Ettl said Monday that they won’t seek re-election. With Friday looming as the deadline for appealing the judge’s ruling in the voting rights case with the American Civil Liberties Union, the City Council has scheduled a special meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday to decide on an appeal. If the city does appeal, the new system could eventually be thrown out, but council members said the city won’t stop the judge-ordered election.
An international monitoring group declared on Tuesday that last year’s election in Fiji was “credible”, but called for restrictions on the media and civil society groups to be eased. The September 2014 vote was the first election in the coup-plagued Pacific nation since military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama seized power in 2006. A multinational observer group (MOG) said it was satisfied the poll, which resulted in a landslide victory for Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party, was carried out correctly. “While the MOG notes areas for improvement of Fiji’s electoral process, it deems this a credible election,” said the group, which has 92 members from 13 countries around the world as well as the European Union, in its final report. “The MOG believes the election broadly represented the will of the Fijian voters. The MOG congratulates the people of Fiji on taking this important step in their return to democracy.”
A major Indian political party called for the voting rights of Muslims to be revoked in an editorial published Sunday, a statement that was slammed across the board and left its leadership red-faced and hastily backtracking. The editorial was published in Saamana — the mouthpiece of the right-wing Shiv Sena party — and reiterated a statement from its late founder Balasaheb Thackeray that advocated the withdrawal of Muslim people’s right to vote, the Indian Express reported. “If Muslims are being used … to play politics, they can never develop,” the editorial reads. “Balasaheb had once said voting rights of Muslims should be withdrawn. What he said is right.”
In confirmation of the Yachad – Ha’am Itanu and Otzma Yehudit accusations that Shas activists committed mass voter fraud in invalidating the two parties’ joint list ballot slips, recordings reveal Shas activists instructing how to invalidate the slips. IDF Radio on Monday morning published recordings of a Shas activist from Jerusalem guiding his friends on how to harm Yachad on elections day – Yachad wound up less than 11,000 votes short of getting past the recently raised threshold percentage. “Everyone who goes to vote – let them remove the slips of ‘ketz,’ let them put them in their pocket and put in its place Shas,” the supporter can be heard saying in the recording, referring to the letters on the slip representing Yachad.
While Luxembourg is pondering whether to give foreign nationals the right to vote, in New Zealand the measure has become a “non-issue” since it was introduced some 50 years ago, according to a legal expert. Out of 193 officially recognised states currently only four allow non-nationals the right to vote in parliamentary elections. Aside from New Zealand, these include Chile, Uruguay and Malawi. Criteria vary widely. While in Chile foreigners need to have lived in the country for five years, in Malawi this rises to seven, while Uruguay has a residence requirement of 15 years. New Zealand first introduced voting rights for all residents in 1975, amending legislation in 1993 to state that only “permanent residents” who have lived in the country for over two years are eligible to vote. Compared to Luxembourg’s proposal of a 10-year residence period this seems comparatively low. In return, immigration criteria are somewhat stricter than in the Grand Duchy, although in many areas similar policies apply, for example employment.
A spokesman for Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) of colluding with security agencies in deciding last Saturday’s gubernatorial elections in some PDP strongholds in favor of the All Progressives Congress Party (APC). Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary of the PDP, said INEC officials and security agencies aided APC supporters in Abia, Imo, Plateau, and Zamfara states. Election commission officials were not immediately available for comment. Of the results announced so far, the APC has won 21 of Nigeria’s 36 states to 12 for the PDP. The results in Abia and Imo states have been declared inclusive.
Website crypto problems on the Spanish online voting registration website are causing it to generate all manner of security warnings. Attempts to visit the sede.ine.gob.es site – run by Spain’s National Statistics Institute and introduced this year for municipal/regional elections – typically lead to users being confronted with a security warning. However, the warnings vary depending on the operating system and browser a surfer is using. Such website problems are sadly common, but the flaws in the Spanish voter registration website are more than normally important, since the site requests that users upload personal information, including copies of passports, ID cards and marriage certificates. El Reg learnt of the problem from reader Kulvinder Singh, who blogged about the topic.
Amid widespread public apathy and calls for a boycott from opposition groups, polling stations in Sudan opened on Monday for an election that many believe is guaranteed to give President Omar Hassan al-Bashir another five years in office. “It’s a comedy,” said Abdulhafeez Abdullah, 35, a law school graduate. “The president is certainly going to win.” Mr. Abdullah has a big poster of Mr. Bashir in the back window of his minibus, but he said he was not going to vote. “The poster just helps with traffic police,” he said.
Sudanese voters headed to the polls in sparse numbers on Monday at the start of a three-day election boycotted by the main opposition parties, with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on course to extend his quarter century in power. The presidential and parliamentary elections are the first since Sudan saw its south secede in 2011, losing a third of its land and nearly all of its oil production. Bashir has cast himself as a guarantor of stability as his security forces tackle insurgencies in the western territory of Darfur and along the border with South Sudan. He has warned against a change in government while the wider region is embroiled in violence from Libya to Yemen. His campaign speeches have also addressed improving the economy, in which inflation and unemployment remain high.
In an aim to boost the number of voters before the registration closes on 20 April, UK’s Electoral Commission has began to tap Twitter as a new medium, reminding people to register to vote in the General Election. The commission, through Twitter, sends a reminder to users in the UK through their timelines, stating the remaining seven-day timeframe to register. It also provides a link with the hashtag #RegisterToVote. The Electoral Commission also sent a tweet that provided a link to to the GOV.UK website, which provides additional information on online registration.