Remember the outrage over Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission? The 2010 Supreme Court decision allowed corporations and other entities to expend unlimited funds on electoral influence, inspiring feverish protests and calls for constitutional reform. Jeremiads about the devolution of political discourse from an active citizenry engaged in public debate to a Machiavellian nightmare of corporate manipulation proliferated. Coupled with the growing awareness of economic inequality, Citizens United helped incite the Occupy movement and has already become a byword for corruption in the American political process. Like plenty of Americans, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg detests the ruling. “If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United,” she told Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic. “I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.” While it’s easy to locate those who defend Citizens United on constitutional grounds, finding support for the decision’s real-world effects on public discourse, debate, and democratic participation is a tougher task. But there’s one party that ought to be cheering the ruling’s positive impact on its livelihood: local TV.
Hillary Clinton’s call for universal automatic voter registration is a major positive development in the voting wars. She puts the national Democratic Party squarely behind Oregon’s recent innovative registration law. As Cass Sunstein says at View, Americans don’t need to register with the government to be entitled to other rights; voting shouldn’t be any different. It’s pretty simple: If we want everyone to participate, then voting should be easy. Voter registration in the U.S. is a real, and unnecessary, hurdle. That’s no coincidence: Registration was originally set up around the turn of the previous century in part by those concerned that the wrong kinds of people (mostly recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe) would vote. There are plenty of ideas to make voting easier, but removing registration as a hurdle is the big one, on both a practical and theoretical level.
A U.S. appeals court on Friday ruled against a group of American Samoans who had argued that those born in the U.S. territory in the South Pacific should be eligible for U.S. citizenship at birth. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, noting that both the U.S. government and the government in American Samoa opposed the campaign, rejected the legal challenge made by named plaintiff Leneuoti Fiafia Tuaua and seven others. Writing on behalf of a three-judge panel, Judge Janice Rogers Brown said the court was sympathetic to the claim, but reluctant to “impose citizenship by judicial fiat – where doing so requires us to override the democratic prerogatives of the American Samoan people themselves.”
The meter’s running … Work has already begun on drawing new congressional maps at the Legislature, even as the political world awaits a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether that would even be needed. The House and Senate leaders inked a $65,000 contract with National Demographics Corp. in late May. The Glendale, Calif.-based firm is no stranger to Arizona: It did the redistricting duties for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in 2001. Back then, the Legislature had no quarrel with the IRC, unlike this decade, when it took the commission to court, challenging its authority to draw congressional boundaries.
Editorials: Kris Kobach’s pursuit of ‘double voters’ in Kansas is hollow | Steve Rose/Kansas City Star
While all eyes were focused last week on the Kansas budget, without fanfare a new law was passed and sent to the governor to sign that turns Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office into the voter fraud police, as well as the state’s attorney general. Lawmakers and the governor took away the power from county district attorneys. This is important because, alas, Kobach got what he wanted and can now go after “criminals” who vote twice and throw the book at them. There’s just one little hitch. To pull off his grandstand play, Kobach will only be able to rustle up a tiny number of offenders. Kobach claims he will go after 100 or so double-voting offenders from the 2014 election. The truth is, it is too soon to know much about the 2014 race. It takes a while for another state to match its voting database with that of Kansas to see whether someone did, indeed, vote in one state and then another. For example, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe does not yet have that 2014 election information and doesn’t expect it for quite some time.
Michigan: Governor signs bill to fix Flint election, opening up ballot for mayoral candidates | MLive.com
Candidates for mayor of Flint can start focusing on the campaign and forget about whether they’ll be on the primary election ballot. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation today, June 5, to authorize extension of the filing deadline for the August primary election, a move that will allow for a standard showdown for the city’s top job. Incumbent Dayne Walling, businesswoman Karen Weaver, and two city councilmen — Wantwaz Davis and Eric Mays — are in line for spots on the ballot, city officials have said.
Tennessee: Nashville early voting sites axed unless more funding added; mayor’s office blasts decision | Associated Press
Davidson County Election Commission has outraged officials at the Nashville mayor’s office after the panel voted that it is prepared to cut the number of early voting sites in metro Nashville’s general election from 11 to one, unless more funding is acquired. Media outlets report that the election commission voted 3-2 on Wednesday to operate only one early voting site — the state’s legal minimum — if the Metro Council approves Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed budget without changes. Dean’s proposed operating budget is $868,000 lower than what the commission sought.
A federal court ruled Friday that Virginia legislators will have to redraw the state’s congressional lines after misinterpreting Voting Rights Act requirements, but an attorney for the defendants said it’s likely that they’ll appeal to the Supreme Court. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled for the second time that legislators unnecessarily “packed” African-American voters into certain congressional districts, ostensibly to follow a requirement that minority voters maintain their control of certain districts—but also limiting their ability to affect other districts’ elections. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the Republican-controlled legislature had packed an excessive number of minorities into a single district, represented by Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott, when it drew the congressional map in 2012.
Reverberations from Yakima’s voting rights lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union are being felt across the state and in Olympia, where the state Attorney General’s Office is expected to release an opinion related to the issue. The opinion won’t have much, if any, impact in Yakima’s case. But it’s likely to be studied carefully in many other cities, especially Pasco. When Pasco officials saw how poorly Yakima fared in the ACLU lawsuit, they began drafting plans earlier this year to revamp their city’s election process in order to avoid a similar fate. Yakima has been ordered to change its election process by a federal judge who said its old election system violated federal election law by routinely suppressing Latino interests. Under the judge’s order, which is under appeal, Yakima City Council members would be elected by voters in their districts and would no longer be subject to citywide voting.
Burundi opposition leader Agathon Rwasa said a presidential election must be held by August at the latest, but a fair vote was unlikely without security and a free media. A planned June 26 poll looks increasingly untenable after more than a month of protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. Parliamentary and local elections have already been postponed due to the unrest in which more than 30 people have been killed, according to activists. Burundi emerged from an ethnically fuelled civil war in 2005, and the crisis has stirred fears of a new bout of violent instability in Africa’s Great Lakes region. The country has a similar ethnic make-up to neighbouring Rwanda, where 800,000 people died in a 1994 genocide.
The Ontario Liberal government is tabling legislation this afternoon to create 15 new ridings that would be up for grabs in the provincial election in 2018. The government is also planning to switch the fixed date of the provincial election from the fall to the spring and to “strengthen the rules” surrounding election campaign advertising by third-party special-interest groups such as unions. The proposed new ridings would match constituency boundary changes recently made at the federal level. Most of the new seats are in the Greater Toronto Area. The bill, if passed, would bring the number of seats at the Ontario Legislature to 122. It currently stands at 107.
Luxemburgers have resoundingly rejected a proposal to let foreign residents vote in national elections, a move that would have been a first in Europe and could have expanded the electorate of the tiny but cosmopolitan Grand Duchy by as much as 50 percent. In Sunday’s consultative referendum, only about 22 percent supported the proposal, part of a modernizing agenda backed by liberal Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. There were also clear majorities against lowering the voting age to 16 from 18 and introducing 10-year term limits for ministers, following the 19-year rule of Bettel’s conservative predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker, now the EU’s chief executive.
A maverick former mayor became Mexico’s first independent candidate to win a governor’s seat, riding a wave of voter anger against the country’s traditional political parties. The news from Sunday’s midterm elections wasn’t all bad for President Enrique Peña Nieto, however: His ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and its allies appeared likely to keep a slim majority in the lower house of Congress, according to early official results. The runaway victory of Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez in Nuevo León state, an industrial powerhouse and home to some of Mexico’s biggest corporations, could spark a wave of independent candidacies nationwide for the 2018 presidential vote, a development analysts said might threaten traditional political parties’ grip on power.
Turkish voters delivered a rebuke on Sunday to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his party lost its majority in Parliament in a historic election that thwarted his ambition to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution and further bolster his clout. The results represented a significant setback for Mr. Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power since being elected last year as president, a partly but not solely ceremonial post. The prime minister for more than a decade before that, Mr. Erdogan has pushed for more control of the judiciary and cracked down on any form of criticism, including prosecuting those who insult him on social media, but his efforts appeared to have run aground on Sunday. The vote was also a significant victory to the cadre of Kurds, liberals and secular Turks who found their voice of opposition to Mr. Erdogan during sweeping anti-government protests two years ago. For the first time, the Kurdish slate crossed a 10 percent threshold required to enter Parliament.