Republican presidential candidates are largely abandoning the caution of past campaigns in relations with the super PACs backing them, testing legal limits as the independent groups take over more functions from campaigns themselves. Super PACs, independent political organizations that stood on the fringes of the 2012 presidential election, are now moving to the center of the current campaign, changing the way presidential races are financed and run. Four years ago, the boundaries between the groups and the campaigns were clear. Now, as more money flows into super PACs instead of campaign accounts, the lines are blurring, making it hard to distinguish between the two political machines.
The Florida Senate’s redistricting committee has approved a map that will go to the Senate floor for a vote next week. The new state Senate districts have been randomly numbered, which now makes it a “legal reality” that all senators will have to run for re-election in 2016, according to the committee chair, Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. Galvano had previously maintained that senators not up for re-election would not have to run as long as the new district populations were somewhat similar to the old and the districts were numbered the same. But that contentious theory has now been put aside.
With grudging support, a Florida Senate panel approved a plan Friday that would put all 40 seats in the chamber on the ballot in 2016. The panel passed a new map redrawing district boundaries and renumbering all the districts. Under normal circumstances, only the 20 senators with odd-numbered districts would be up for election next year. That was a point of contention among members earlier in the week when Senate lawyers suggested senators whose districts shift wouldn’t have to seek re-election. But the new map still faces other objections from senators and possibly tough sledding when it goes to the Senate floor next week.
New Mexico’s former secretary of state Dianna Duran pleaded guilty on Friday to embezzlement and money laundering for using campaign contributions to pay gambling debts. She had resigned hours earlier, one of the terms of a plea agreement that, if approved by the judge, could spare her prison time. Speaking to reporters after her appearance before Judge T. Glenn Ellington of State District Court, Ms. Duran said, “I realized that I made some choices that were not healthy, and I will be seeking professional help.” Later, she said she had made her decision to plead guilty “in the best interests of my family and all New Mexicans.” Her sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 14.
A federal judge on Friday refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a challenge to the N.C. voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the issue for a trial, tentatively in January. Attorneys for state lawmakers argued that a 2015 change to the ID provision of an election law overhaul made the 2013 legal challenge moot. Though the law initially restricted voting to people who had one of six specified photo identification cards, the General Assembly added a provision on the eve of the federal trial this summer that made it possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID. The law is set to go into effect next year. Advocates of the ID law say it is necessary to prevent voter fraud. But few cases have been prosecuted.
Philadelphia residents: If you trouble yourselves to vote Nov. 3, you might win $10,000. Seriously. That was the scheme laid out Thursday, showcased in part by two ex-rivals – former Mayor John F. Street and three-time Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz, whom Democrat Street twice defeated. They teamed up to promote voting in a city that has seen abysmal turnouts in recent years. “Desperate times require desperate measures, and this is certainly the case,” Katz said at a LOVE Park event announcing what promoters billed as a lottery. The two men joined Larry Platt, former editor of Philadelphia Magazine and the Philadelphia Daily News, as he announced the plan to give $10,000 to one lucky voter on Election Day.
Disparate rulings on whether Virginia violated federal law by drawing state House and congressional district maps based on race might pave the way for a grand decision from a higher court. The latest ruling from a special three-judge panel, issued Thursday, threw out a Democrat-backed challenge to Virginia’s House of Delegates district lines. State Republican leaders say the lines, and those that shape the 3rd Congressional District that a similar federal court panel found to be unconstitutional, are legal. “Today’s decision validates our consistently held view that the House (of Delegates) districts were drawn in accordance with the Constitution, all state and federal laws, and in a fair and open process,” House Speaker Bill Howell said in a statement Thursday.
Wisconsin Republicans are moving at breakneck speed to abolish secret investigations into political corruption such as one that haunted Gov. Scott Walker, do away with the state’s unique nonpartisan elections board and legalize coordination between candidates and shadowy issue advocacy groups that don’t disclose their donors. The moves come after Republicans were angered by a secret investigation of Walker approved by the elections board that focused on coordination with conservative issue advocacy groups. Republicans deny they’re seeking retribution for the probe, which the state Supreme Court in July ended as unconstitutional. But Democrats and independent observers say the changes will transform the state’s elections and regulatory process, making it more difficult to investigate politicians for wrongdoing in office.
Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws were overdue for change after a series of court decisions over the past year. In recent months, the courts have allowed coordination between campaigns and issue groups and allowed individuals to give unlimited amounts of money to political parties. We still question whether those decisions are in the best interest of the public. But state and federal judges have, effectively, rewritten Wisconsin law, and so the law itself should be brought up to date. But legislators and citizens who hold them accountable should take a close look at what Assembly Bill 387 would do. The tinkering will mean even more money in state politics, and the vast majority of it will be given in secret with no public disclosure. In the long run, that erodes trust in government. The campaign finance bill would double the amount that donors can give to candidates. For statewide office, contributors now would be able to give $20,000, and that amount would be adjusted for inflation every five years.
Argentina’s voters set the stage for a bruising presidential run-off next month after a surprise first round on Sunday in which Daniel Scioli – the candidate of the ruling Peronist coalition – was denied an outright victory. The centre-left candidate, who was endorsed by outgoing president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, was tipped by the exit polls to end the night with a comfortable lead. But preliminary results showed both he and the pro-business Buenos Aires mayor, Mauricio Macri, were neck and neck on 35% each.
As voting day unfolded, there were various controversies in Bulgaria’s October 25 2015 municipal elections and national referendum on whether to introduce online voting. After many complaints, the Central Election Commission said that it had instrructed polling stations to issue voters with ballots for the referendum as well as for the local elections. Posts on social networks and media reports said that there were cases where voters were either not given ballot papers for the referendum or were asked whether or not they wanted one. Another major concern was a delay in announcing up-to-date figures on voter turnout, which according to the Central Election Commission was because of its website being brought down by the weight of traffic as municipal election commissions reported these figures.
Turnout in a referendum in Congo on Sunday was reduced to a trickle in the capital after the opposition asked voters to boycott the poll on whether the president can legally stand for a third consecutive term in an election due next year. President Denis Sassou Nguesso, 71, is the latest long-serving African president to try to prolong his grip on power by changing the constitution. Several other such efforts have provoked violence, and four died in Congo Republic last week when security forces opened fire on protesters. In some parts of the capital, the only voters were members of the security forces, witnesses said. There was no information on turnout in other parts of the country. Polling booths closed at 6 p.m. (12:00 p.m. ET) and vote counting began.
Jimmy Morales, a political neophyte and former TV comedian, swept into office as Guatemala’s new president Sunday when more than two-thirds of voters backed him in a second round of polling in presidential elections. Fed up with a political system infected with corruption, nepotism and criminal impunity, the voters chose a political rookie over contender Sandra Torres, a former first lady widely perceived to be part of the old power establishment. Torres conceded defeat Sunday evening, saying: “The people have made their choice, and we respect it. We are going to offer constructive support that will benefit the country.” Morales claimed victory after receiving just under 2.7 million votes — a 68.7% percent share of ballots cast — compared with 1.2 million cast for Torres, preliminary results from Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal showed.
Voting appeared orderly and largely peaceful in presidential and parliamentary elections that Haitians hope will help consolidate democracy in this impoverished country with a history of political turbulence. Fears that Sunday’s voting would be a repeat of the problem-plagued first-round of legislative elections proved unfounded, human rights observers said. Celso Amorim, chief of the Organization of American States’ 125-member observer mission, said Haiti appeared to be “moving in the right direction.” Haitians faced lengthy ballots featuring 54 presidential hopefuls and a slew of legislative and municipal candidates. Electoral officials said there might be partial results in 10 days but final results would not be ready until late November.
Poll workers in Ivory Coast began counting ballots on Sunday after a day of peaceful voting in a presidential election seen as crucial to turning the page on a decade-long political crisis and a civil war in 2011. President Alassane Ouattara, whose leadership has helped the West African nation re-emerge as a rising economic star on the continent, is facing a divided opposition and is heavily favored to win re-election. However, there were concerns that a boycott by part of the opposition coupled with voter apathy could result in low turnout. … “For the moment we are quite satisfied that everything is going ahead without any major incidents,” said Mariam Dao Gabela, chairperson of the Peace-CI civil society elections observer project. While the risk of poll violence was considered low, tens of thousands of soldiers, police and gendarmes were deployed across the country to secure the election, in which voters faced a choice of seven candidates for the presidency. More than 6 million Ivorians were registered to vote at some 20,000 polling stations nationwide.
Poland consolidated its rightwing shift on Sunday as exit polls showed voters had handed an absolute majority in its parliamentary election to Law and Justice, a Eurosceptic party that is against immigration, wants family-focused welfare spending and has threatened to ban abortion and in-vitro fertilisation. The current ruling party, Civic Platform, conceded defeat following the first exit poll, published by Ipsos moments after polling stations closed at 9pm (8pm GMT), which gave the national conservative Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice party) 39.1% of the vote, putting it far ahead of Civic Platform on 23.4%. Jarosław Kaczyński, Law and Justice’s chairman and the twin brother of Poland’s late president Lech, immediately declared victory. Speaking to supporters at his party headquarters in central Warsaw, a triumphant Kaczynski said: “We will not kick those who have fallen… We need to show that Polish public life can be different.”
Hopes that a local election could help shift tensions in an eastern Ukrainian city from simmering conflict to the relative safety of politics were thwarted Sunday when voters turned up to find no ballots. The election in Mariupol, a strategically important city, had been called off even as the rest of the country voted. Electoral authorities in the Ukrainian-controlled portion of the Donetsk region said the ballots were flawed and there was no time to print new ones. But critics quickly pointed out that opinion polls had shown that a political party affiliated with Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government had been poised to win the most votes.
United Kingdom: ‘Outrageous’ Tory changes to electoral roll will face challenge in Lords | The Guardian
The government’s attempt to rush through changes to the electoral registration system, which could result in up to 1.9 million people disappearing from the roll, is to be challenged in the House of Lords. In a rerun of the battles in the last parliament to redraw the constituency boundaries, the Liberal Democrats are opposing the changes, calling them “an outrageous gerrymander”. The voters likely to fall off the register are mainly in inner-city areas and less likely to vote Conservative. The Electoral Commission had advised the government in June to spend another year transferring voters on the old household-based register to the new individual register, but ministers want to short-circuit the process so that it is completed by December 2015, and not the end of 2016. The commission says there are 1.9 million names on the household register that are not on the individual register.