Nobody is more passionate about the need for campaign finance reform than a presidential candidate about to campaign using unreformed finances. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said recently, between mouthfuls of money, that we need to “fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all — even if it takes a constitutional amendment.” I suppose that constitutional amendment will be her first order of business as president, following a campaign that will reportedly raise up to $2.5 billion and accept donations from lobbyists and political action committees.
When the Supreme Court badly weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, it described the landmark civil rights law as outdated. The formula that Congress had used back in 1965 to decide which areas of the country should have their voting laws placed under federal supervision no longer matched modern patterns of discrimination, Chief Justice John Roberts claimed. “If Congress had started from scratch in 2006, it plainly could not have enacted the present coverage formula,” Roberts wrote for the majority, explaining why that formula was being struck down. But a comprehensive new study by a renowned historian and expert in voting discrimination suggests what voting rights advocates have been saying all along: that Roberts got it wrong.
Editorials: The Next Era of Campaign-Finance Craziness Is Already Underway | Jim Ruthenberg/New York Times
There may be no political adviser closer to Rand Paul than Jesse Benton. Benton was integral to Paul’s Senate run in 2010 and was a top strategist for both of Ron Paul’s Republican presidential campaigns. When a fellow Kentuckian, Senator Mitch McConnell, needed help with his re-election campaign last year, Rand Paul lent him Benton. Benton also happens to be married to Paul’s niece. So it would have been natural to expect Benton to move into Paul’s campaign headquarters as soon as he declared his candidacy for president. Not going to happen. On April 6, the day before Paul made his formal announcement, National Journal reported that instead, Benton will be running with several others America’s Liberty PAC, the principal Paul-supporting super PAC — the class of technically independent campaign organization that is free to spend as many millions of dollars as it can raise, without all those nettlesome regulations that limit donations to formal presidential campaigns to $5,400 a person.
The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday listed which felony convictions will cause a person to lose voting rights, an issue that’s been the subject of debate, disagreement and at least one lawsuit. The Alabama Constitution dictates that people convicted of felonies involving “moral turpitude” are not able to vote. However, courts and state officials have wrestled with exactly what crimes are crimes of moral turpitude. House members voted 99-1 for the bill that lists 40 offenses that will strip a person of their right to vote. The disqualifying offenses range from capital murder to second-degree theft. A person would not lose voting rights for drug possession.
Arizona’s nearly 1.2 million political independents will be able to continue to influence who Republicans nominate for office, at least for the foreseeable future. The executive committee of the Arizona Republican Party on Saturday rejected a proposal to try to close future primaries and limit participation to the 1.1 million who are officially members of the Grand Old Party. Party spokesman Tim Sifert said committee members concluded it made no sense to try to challenge a 1998 voter-approved measure which paved the way for independents to vote. That vote came despite a recommendation from state precinct committeemen to shut out the independents. But Sifert said such a legal move might cost $75,000. And he said only the executive committee can spend party money.
California: Bill to Make Voting Materials More Comprehensible Approved by Senate Elections Committee | California Newswire
The Calif. Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee today approved SB 505 authored by Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). The bill will ensure that California’s Voter Bill of Rights and other election materials are provided to voters in plain, accessible and easily understandable language. The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. “Citizens deserve clear communications during elections because it is vital that voters understand their eligibility to vote and how they can receive help with polling place problems,” said Senator Tony Mendoza. “Improving election materials by using plain language techniques is common sense,” added Mendoza.
The city council won’t appeal a judge’s decision that bars it from removing the registrars of voters, who came under fire after problems on Election Day caused some city polling places to open late. Council members voted unanimously Monday against seeking the appeal, saying the move would be expensive and time-consuming. The city was paying the attorneys fees for its three registrars of voters, and the council had hired Ross Garber to act as a prosecutor at hearings it planned to conduct before a judge ruled that it can’t oust the elected officials.
For the next round of elections, voters might be able to cast their ballots with a cell phone in hand. Current state law prohibits voters from having their cell phones within 100 feet of the voting area, but the State House of Representatives on Monday heard and initially passed a bill that would allow voters to use their cell phones in polling stations, with certain limitations. The bill, authored by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), permits voters to “access information that was downloaded, recorded or created on the phone” before the voter enters his or her polling place.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Wisconsin’s voter ID law, thereby upholding it, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin aims to expand the list of identification acceptable on Election Day. Chris Ahmuty, executive director of ACLU of Wisconsin, said ACLU is focusing on two forms of ID in particular: two-year technical college student IDs and veteran IDs.
For a country less than a week away from a presidential election, it’s awfully quiet in Kazakhstan. According to current President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan is a “paradise,” but Central Asia watchers are skeptical about the lack of competition and lack of policy debate. “There is not much currently being said about the election in Kazakhstan, mostly because there is nothing to say,” Luca Anceschi, a lecturer in Central Asian Studies at the University of Glasgow told The Diplomat. The early election, scheduled for April 26, didn’t come as a surprise. Nazarbayev also arranged early polls in 2011, 2005, and in 1999 (even though a 1995 referendum, shortly before scheduled elections in 1996, extended Nazarbayev’s term as president to 2000). Despite coy statements made in March that “[m]aybe it’s time for a change of scenery,” Nazarbayev chose to stand for election, again.
Prior to earlier concerns of a bloated electoral register, Major Stakeholders in Togo’s elections say they are satisfied with the cleaning process and are ready to go to the Polls on Saturday April 25. They expressed the satisfaction when ECOWAS Chair President John Mahama, met with them in a follow up visit to ascertain their level of preparedness.