Partisanship at the Federal Election Commission has hamstrung the agency, as deadlocked investigations have skyrocketed since 2008, according to a new report. Before 2008, the FEC only deadlocked on 1 percent of its votes to trigger punishments for allegations of election law violations, according to the report released Wednesday by the Public Citizen Foundation. Since then, the agency has hit a stalemate on 15 percent. The FEC is made up of three Democratic and three Republican commissioners, and action can only be triggered with a majority vote, which means at least one commissioner must cross party lines before the agency can authorize punishment.
Hillary Clinton told supporters on Thursday that if elected she will appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Citizens United, according to a Washington Post report. This is good news for our democracy—but the Court’s role in helping wealthy interests dominate politics goes far deeper than one bad case. In fact, justices appointed by the next president—whoever that is—should look to transform the Supreme Court’s entire approach to money in politics going back to cases starting in the 1970s, just as the Court has reversed course on New Deal economic protections, racial segregation, LGBT rights, and more.
The phones rang. The donations flowed. Former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb in 2006 won one of the most expensive judicial races in American history. Cobb, however, is no fan of the pricey system that got her to be the state’s top jurist. The high-dollar races that have judicial candidates dialing for dollars are tawdry, she said, and the donations that judicial candidates must solicit from law firms and businesses that appear in their courtroom are something akin to “legalized extortion.”
Election officials have a lot to say about few lawmakers’ plan for automatic voter registration. The bill has begun making its way through the capitol. If approved, the bill will do exactly what it sounds like: automatically register voters from the DMV. It’s routine when updating your drivers license or ID card. DMV employee will ask if you want to apply to register to vote. “Instead of being notified that they can register to vote, they will be notified that they are now registered to vote,” said Jackson County Clerk Larry Reinhardt. A new measure recently filed would give employees the go ahead to register people when doing business at the secretary of state’s office. It would allow anyone to decline if they choose. Employees will not be allowed to transmit a person’s identification to the applicable election authority if they say no.
The chairman of the Kansas Republican Party is urging GOP lawmakers to support election law changes that he says are “critical to the Kansas Republican Party.” Kelly Arnold, the state GOP chairman, sent Republican House members an e-mail asking them to support HB 2104. … The bill would push local elections to the fall of odd-numbered years and eliminate presidential primaries in the state. Kansas hasn’t held a presidential primary since 1992 and passing the bill would help solidify the caucus system that the GOP has used in recent presidential elections.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach would gain the power to prosecute election fraud under a bill that the Kansas House narrowly gave first-round approval Wednesday. The measure would stiffen penalties for an array of election crimes and add the secretary of state and attorney general to a list of officials allowed to prosecute the offenses. The House expected to take a final vote Thursday. Kobach has pushed to gain the authority since taking office in January 2011 and if approved by the House, the bill would go to Gov. Sam Brownback for his possible signature.
Kentucky: Republican Gubernatorial Primary Goes Into Extra Innings: What Happens Next? | Election Law
83 votes. That’s all that separates Kentucky GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Matt Bevin and James Comer. What has already been an ugly campaign is about to become even uglier. Kentucky has three levels of post-election procedures: a recanvass, a recount, and an election contest. Comer, who is currently down in the vote count, has already indicated that he plans to invoke the first process and seek a recanvass; it is unclear if he will go further with a recount or election contest. Under Kentucky law, a candidate has a week from Election Day to file a request for recanvassing with the Secretary of State. Comer announced last night that he will file his request this morning. The recanvassing will occur on Thursday, May 28, during which county election boards will recheck each machine and report the figure back to the county clerk.
Nevada: Republicans: Dump caucus, use early primary for presidential race | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Supporters of a Republican-backed bill to scrap Nevada’s presidential caucuses for a secret-ballot primary in February argued Tuesday that the move would expand participation in choosing the nation’s president. “Some people are very worried about upsetting the holidays and the inconvenience,” state Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, told members of the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, which took no action on Senate Bill 421. “I personally don’t believe that the inconvenience of selecting the leader of the free world through a process that allows you to walk into a ballot box and cast your vote is too much of an inconvenience,” he said.
Editorials: South Dakota’s Last Stand—Ballot Boxes, Red Herrings and Custer Envy | Stephanie Woodard/ICTMN.com
Jackson County, South Dakota, has dug in for a fight against Oglala Sioux plaintiffs who sued for a full-service satellite voting office on the portion of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that overlaps the county. On May 11, Jackson County filed an answer to the Oglalas’ complaint. The document mostly reiterated legal arguments that had been rebuffed by U.S. District Court Judge Karen Schreier 10 days earlier, when she refused to dismiss the lawsuit, Poor Bear v. The County of Jackson. In her opinion, the judge wrote that the plaintiffs might be able to prove “intentional discrimination,” a Fourteenth Amendment violation. Judge Schreier presided over another Oglala voting-rights suit, Brooks v. Gant, which in 2012 resulted in satellite voting for another part of Pine Ridge.
Poland’s presidential election was supposed to be a cakewalk for popular incumbent Bronisław Komorowski. But instead of coasting to an easy victory, the president finds himself in danger of a stunning defeat in Sunday’s runoff election. Surprising pollsters and his own campaign team, Komorowski lost in the May 10 first round to Andrzej Duda, the candidate of the nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS), who took 33.8 percent of the vote, a percentage point ahead of the incumbent.
Spain heads to the polls on Sunday for regional elections in 13 of the country’s 17 autonomous communities (Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia, and the Basque Country having separate electoral cycles), for municipal elections to elect councillors on all 8,116 local councils, and for votes in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. The votes will be a useful prequel to a general election that will be called later this year. Since the last election in 2011, Spain’s political landscape has changed dramatically. The country’s two main parties, the centre-right People’s Party (PP) and the main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE), traditionally win a combined 75-80% of the vote. They are now polling below 50%. At the European Parliament elections last year they won 49.1% of the vote compared with 80.9% in 2009.
Plans to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in next May’s Holyrood election have taken a step closer following backing from MSPs. A report by the Devolution Committee endorsed the change laid down in the Scottish Election (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill. Last year’s referendum saw those aged 16 and 17 being allowed to vote. The committee report followed months of evidence gathering, including from young people themselves. It is expected that the bill will be passed by Holyrood in time for the Scottish Parliament election.
Editorials: A note from the British election: Has the electoral system failed voters? | Syahrul Hidayat/The Jakarta Post
Despite all the overnight drama in the latest British election when the Conservative Party defied all pollsters’ predictions of a tight race with Labour, the composition of seats in parliament (the Commons) contradicts the share of votes among political parties. The winner, the Conservative Party, can form its own government without forging a coalition even though it only garnered 37 percent of the vote. Is it a fair result for voters? For the UK Independent Party (UKIP) and the Green Party (which both won one seat despite the overall share of votes of 12.6 and nearly 4 percent respectively) as well as their supporters the answer is surely yes.