Switzerland: Think tank: give foreigners local voting rights | SWI

A Swiss think tank is urging Switzerland to give foreigners greater voting rights at the local level, such as allowing foreign residents to stand for local political office. Such a measure will help integration, it argues. A new study by the Swiss think tank Avenir Suisse, published on Tuesday, reveals that foreigners have local voting rights in 600 municipalities across Switzerland, out of a total of 2,596. But rights are very unevenly spread regionally, among 575 communes in French-speaking Switzerland, 22 in the German-speaking canton of Graubünden and three in the small German-speaking canton of Appenzell Outer-Rhodes. The absolute number of politically active foreigners was still relatively small, the study found. In the 317 communes that responded to the survey, currently 148 non-Swiss hold legislative positions and 19 hold executive office posts.

Press Release: Online Voter Registration: The Next Wave of Election Modernization | Election Systems & Software

As election administrators look for new ways to cut costs and improve the voter’s experience, one area is producing quick results: the switch to online voter registration (VR). As of August 6, 2015— 22 states offer online registration, with another five plus the District of Columbia passing legislation to create online VR systems to be implemented at a later time. Traditionally the voter registration process begins when a new voter fills out a paper form and submits it to election officials. The officials then confirm the registration is valid and enters the information into the registration system. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 broadened the availability of these forms, requiring states to offer voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), disability centers, public schools and public libraries. Online VR follows the same path, except voters fill out a form via their state’s secure VR site instead of a paper version. The electronic registration is then electronically submitted to election officials. Validation of each registration is done by comparing the provided information against DMV records. If information doesn’t match, the application is forwarded for further review and action.

National: The rise of dark money in 2016, unlimited and anonymous | Miami Herald

It looks like any political ad, opening with Sen. Marco Rubio warning that “evil is confronted or defeated, or it grows and it spreads.” A narrator marks the day President Barack Obama announced the Iran deal, a nuclear bomb exploding on the screen. “Congress can stop it,” the ominous voice says. “Marco Rubio is leading the fight. Tell your senators to join Marco Rubio and defeat Obama’s deal with Iran.” Shown nationally on Fox News as Rubio runs for president, the ad is not from the Florida Republican’s campaign or one of the super PACs that has injected hundreds of millions into politics. It is the work of a nonprofit group — and you will never know who paid for it. On the surface, the ad was a failure; Obama secured the votes Wednesday to withstand a congressional challenge to the Iran deal. But the seven-figure buy enhanced Rubio’s profile and underscores a major shift in politics. Nonprofits long have been used by organizations aligned with political bents, including the Sierra Club and the NRA, to promote “social welfare.” Then came the landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United, which said corporations and unions were effectively the same as individuals and could spend directly on politics.

National: Hillary Clinton Unveils Campaign-Finance Plan | Wall Street Journal

Hillary Clinton is rolling out a policy plan Tuesday aimed at lifting the veil on some of the wealthy donors who have bankrolled political campaigns while taking advantage of laws that allow them to remain anonymous. Mrs. Clinton, who along with her husband has been among the most prodigious fundraisers in U.S. history, is also proposing ways to give candidates more incentives to collect money from small donors. Since entering the race in April, Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, has said she wants to impose new restraints on campaign spending to restore people’s confidence in the political system. Along with her top rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, she has taken aim at a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that gave rise to political-action committees known as super PACs, which are permitted to raise unlimited sums of money on behalf of candidates.

Arizona: Reagan joins in effort to void redistricting plan | Arizona Daily Sun

Secretary of State Michele Reagan has joined with Republican interests in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to void the state’s current legislative redistricting plan. In new filings with the high court, attorneys for Reagan point out the population differences among the 30 legislative districts created in 2011 by the Independent Redistricting Commission. They said this, by itself, raises constitutional questions because it effectively gives voters in some districts more power than others. But what’s particularly problematic, they said, is that the disparity was done deliberately to achieve a result of improving the chances of Democrats getting elected to the Legislature. “It suggests, if not proves, a built-in bias in the IRC’s redistricting process,” her attorneys wrote.

Florida: Redistricting challengers used data and emails to piece together signs of conspiracy | Tampa Bay Times

The legal team that uncovered the shadow redistricting process that invalidated Florida’s congressional and Senate districts didn’t rely just on maps and cloak-and-dagger emails to prove that legislators broke the law. The best clues came in the form of data — millions of census blocks — delivered electronically and found in the files of political operatives who fought for two years to shield it. The Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in July that lawmakers were guilty of violating the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Florida Constitution and ordered them to redraw the congressional map. It was a landmark ruling that declared the entire process had been “tainted with improper political intent” — a verdict so broad that it prompted an admission from the state Senate that lawmakers had violated the Constitution when they drew the Senate redistricting plan in 2012. The Legislature has scheduled a special session in October to start over on that map.

New Hampshire: Shuttered resort still plans to host New Hampshire voters | Associated Press

A shuttered hotel where the nation’s first presidential primary ballots have been traditionally cast will once against host midnight voting in 2016, according to developers working to overhaul and expand the historic resort. The nearly 150-year-old Balsams resort in Dixville Notch closed in September 2011, and its new owners are still waiting for environmental permits to move ahead with extensive restoration plans, which include a new hotel and conference center and a larger ski area. That has raised questions about the fate of the primary voting tradition, but project spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne said the goal is to have a portion of the resort’s Dix House ready for the February primary.

New Mexico: Committee to start spadework on impeachment proceedings | Associated Press

A New Mexico legislative committee plans to start spadework next week on impeachment proceedings against embattled Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who is accused of funneling campaign contributions to personal bank accounts. No public official has been impeached in state history. Impeachment proceedings were started 10 years ago against state Treasurer Robert Vigil and again in 2011 against Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. In each case, the process was halted after the officials resigned their posts. Democratic Rep. Ken Martinez of Grants co-chaired the Vigil impeachment panel and tells the Albuquerque Journal that impeachment proceedings are grave and “very difficult.”

North Carolina: Single primary could save millions | Gaston Gazette

For more than a year, election officials have been planning on two primary elections — one in March for the presidential contenders, and a second in May for seats on everything from the school board to the U.S. Senate. Now, House and Senate leaders say they are considering a shift to just one primary that would take place March 15, the same time as the presidential primary. Adam Ragan, who leads Gaston County’s Board of Elections, said a single March primary could pose problems. “Logistically, I think it would be very difficult to get all the ducks lined up,” said Ragan, who heard about the possibility of a single primary election last week.

Canada: Long-term expats find costly ‘loophole’ in voting ban | CTV

Long-term expats determined to cast a ballot for the Oct. 19 election have found a way to do so — against the wishes of the Conservative government and despite a court ruling upholding their disenfranchisement. However, the method costs money, travel, and time, prompting some to argue the rules have effectively made their right to vote subject to financial ability. “Voting should not be something you must purchase,” said Natalie Chabot Roy, 38, who was raised in northern Ontario but lives in Bonney Lake, Wash. Earlier this year, the government successfully appealed a court ruling that would have allowed Canadians abroad for more than five years to keep on voting by way of a mailed “special ballot.” Nevertheless, at least one enterprising expat has already cast his ballot for the Oct. 19 election under another section of the Canada Elections Act that amounts to a barely accessible backdoor around the ban, and others are considering following suit. That section allows expats who show up in the riding in which they lived before leaving Canada to vote — if they show proof of the former residency along with accepted identification.

Guatemala: Former comedian leads field in presidential election first round | The Guardian

A former television comic is heading for a runoff with either a wealthy businessman or a former first lady in voting for Guatemala’s next president, days after the Central American country’s leader resigned over a corruption scandal. With more than 96% of polling stations reporting, comedian Jimmy Morales, who has never held elective office, was leading with 24% of the vote. Businessman and longtime politician Manuel Baldizón and former first lady Sandra Torres were in a tie, each with about 19.4%. Baldizón led Torres by less than 800 votes among nearly five million votes cast. The top two finishers in the field of 14 will advance to a runoff to be held on 25 October. Analyst Christians Castillo said Morales’s surprising performance was a sign of voter discontent, “a vote of punishment” against more traditional candidates. Electoral officials estimated a nearly 80% turnout.

Myanmar: Campaign begins for Myanmar election set to decide scope of democratic change | Reuters

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will take her election battle straight to one of the president’s closest allies when campaigning gets under way this week for the first free general election since the end of military rule. Nobel laureate Suu Kyi will meet her supporters on Thursday in the region where powerful Minister of the President’s Office Soe Thein, the architect of President Thein Sein’s economic reforms, is running for a seat in the Nov. 8 election. Her appearance is a gesture of confidence that her National League for Democracy (NLD) can defeat the president’s closest supporters and their ruling, army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The campaign officially begins on Tuesday.

Poland: Voter turnout for the government-backed referendum on voting system was less than 8% | Wall Street Journal

Poland’s ruling camp, struggling to capture voters’ attention ahead of a parliamentary election in October, suffered an embarrassment on Monday when the country’s electoral committee said voter turnout in a government-backed referendum over the weekend was less than 8%. It was the lowest turnout for any national vote in Poland’s recent history. The referendum was called by former President Bronislaw Komorowski as he tried to salvage his re-election bid in May. It was endorsed by the upper house of parliament, dominated by senators of Mr. Komorowski’s Civic Platform party. The referendum, which cost about $22 million to organize and yet failed to settle any of the key questions raised by politicians, is a blunder in a country where voters have shown fatigue not only with the eight-year-old ruling camp but also the long-established political parties that have governed the country since 1989.

Russia: Liberals blast Russian election law as ‘medieval,’ suggest radical changes | RT

The leader of the Yabloko party has told reporters that Russia must abandon the current practice of political parties presenting supporters’ signatures before elections to prove their popularity, saying it was both obsolete and prone to rigging. Sergey Mitrokhin told reporters in Novosibirsk on Monday that his party supported the cancelation of pre-electoral signature collection for all political parties. He commented that this part of Russian election law is “medieval.” The press conference was held in connection with the next nationwide election on September 13. This is when 11 Russian regions will elect legislatures, 21 heads of regions will be elected by a direct vote, and four more by voting in regional parliaments. He added that Yabloko, one of the oldest parties in Russia, has always supported greater equality for all political groups.

United Kingdom: Thousands of Labour leadership ballots to be reissued | Telegraph

Thousands of Labour leadership ballots will be reissued on Tuesday as concerns over missing voting slips triggers calls for the results to be delayed. The party has been forced into the emergency move less than three days before voting ends after a wave of complaints from supporters who have not received their ballot. Shabana Mahmood, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury and co-chair of Yvette Cooper’s campaign, is understood to have only received her ballot on Friday. Aides on Labour leadership campaigns said members of their staff and grandees backing candidates are also still waiting to get their ballots despite just days remaining to vote.