Over the weekend, the New York Times published a sobering interview with the head of the Federal Election Commission, who confirmed that she had largely given up on the agency playing a meaningful role in restraining fundraising and spending abuses in the 2016 campaign. The commissioners are deadlocked, FEC chair Ann Ravel said, because Republican members of the commission think the FEC should exercise less robust oversight, meaning the agency has become “worse than dysfunctional” at a time when outside money is poised to play an even larger role than it did in the last two cycles.
Over the weekend, I received a link to a new Youtube video by Princeton undergraduate Kyle Dhillon, who created a 4-minute presentation on the topic of Internet voting as part of his coursework in a class taught by Princeton’s Andrew Appel. He also produced a paper, which is available here. Kyle starts out by saying how much he dislikes standing in line to vote – he waited over two hours in the last election – and so he was interested in the feasibility of casting votes over the Internet. After reading the literature and talking to experts, however, he concluded that the current threats to the process are so great that we are not yet at the point where Internet voting is ready for use in American elections.
Voting Blogs: FEC Conflicts: the Choices of the Chair and the Responsibility for Non-Enforcement | More Soft Money Hard Law
In op-eds and interviews, FEC Chair Ravel has chosen a particular course for her one-year term as the agency’s leader. She is making use of the pulpit she now commands to express her view that the law is going unenforced. It is question of Republican intransigence, she argues, and the consequences are “destructive to the political process.” Commissioner Weintraub has advanced the same position. Republicans inside and outside the FEC have strenuously objected to this conclusion and the manner in which she has expressed it. And they have added to their complaint the allegation that, in a “listening tour” on dark money and a forum organized on the role of women in politics, the Chair has acted outside her mandate and invited the appearance of partisan bias.
Looking to boost voter turnout, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly will consider an ordinance creating a system to vote by mail in borough elections. Assemblymen Lance Roberts and Karl Kassel are backing the ordinance, which will be considered this month and could take effect in 2016, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. “Voter participation within the borough is not the greatest,” Kassel said. “I am hoping that we can get more people to participate by making it easier for them.”
Colorado’s bid to boost its national profile and create a presidential primary will cost $1.7 million, according to a new legislative analysis. But who will pay for the extra election remains unclear. The newly filed bill doesn’t specify. Right now, the Colorado Secretary of State pays for elections from money it collects from filing fees — a method being challenged in the courts, in fact. To cover the $1.7 million price tag, Secretary Wayne Williams would need to increase fees against businesses and charities who file documents with his office.
A bill has been passed by the New Hampshire state Senate that would require voters to reside in the state for 30 days before becoming eligible to vote. Senate Bill 179 was passed by the Republican-controlled state Senate in a party-line vote, and is currently in committee in the House. New Hampshire law currently permits same-day voter registration. The legislation would amend the way the state defines “domicile” to require that a voter reside in the Granite State for “no less than 30 consecutive days” before they become eligible to cast a ballot.
The architects of the state’s electoral maps want more time to respond to a Supreme Court-imposed review. It’s just the latest twist in a long-running dispute over how North Carolina’s political districts are drawn. Now the state officials responsible for drawing the maps have asked the court not to expedite the schedule, saying they need more time to prepare. They argue justices should allow at least two months to file opening briefs and replies.
At least three protesters have been killed and 45 wounded in Burundi, according to the Red Cross, as demonstrations against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office entered a second week. Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a veteran member of the civil society groups which called for the rallies on Monday, had earlier said two protesters were shot dead in the capital, Bujumbura. The police had no immediate comment but said they would issue a statement later, the Reuters news agency reported. Leading opposition figure, Agathon Rwasa, who threatened to boycott the coming presidential election unless Nkurunziza withdrew his candidacy, condemned the country’s police over the violence. “It’s a shame President Nkurunziza goes on killing innocent and unarmed people…our police are more partisan than professional and discredit our nation,” Rwasa told Al Jazeera.
Youths, defying a government ban on demonstrations, clashed with security forces in Guinea’s coastal capital Conakry on Monday as opposition leaders called for nationwide protests against the timing of elections. A government statement said 14 people including 12 security officers were wounded. Opposition leader Mouctar Diallo said 30 people were wounded including seven shot, one of whom is in critical condition. Some youths erected barricades of logs and burning tyres, others threw stones and fired catapults at security forces who were trying to clear them out with tear gas.
The Italian Lower House on Monday definitively approved a new electoral law, which was seen as a keystone of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s reform agenda. The new legislation will grant 55 percent of seats in parliament to the winning party in future elections, thus making it easier to produce a stable political majority. “We have kept our commitment, the promise has been fulfilled,” Renzi wrote on his twitter account, soon after the vote. The final approval from the Lower House came through a secret ballot after a daylong tense debate, and the bill was passed with 334 votes in favor, and 61 votes against.
After the initial extension of the deadline for updating the national voters register, the Electoral Commission (EC) has re-extended the exercise by seven days, ending on May 11. The update process which started on 7th April 2015 up to 30th April was extended to the end of Monday but before the close of business, EC considered re-extending with the aim of generating a fresh voter’s register, ahead of the 2016 polls. EC deputy spokesperson Paul Bukenya while confirming to New Vision said that the move is meant to capture more legible voters to update their details ahead of the elections.