National: Campaign Finance Disclosure Efforts Dealt Severe Blow in Omnibus | Election Law Blog

While campaign finance reformers were busy fighting off an attempt by Sen. McConnell to include a rider in the omnibus which would allow for unlimited coordinated party spending with candidates, three other very bad campaign finance provisions slipped into the must-pass congressional omnibus as riders. All three relate to disclosure. Via Jason Abel, one provision stops the IRS from engaging in rulemaking on 501c4 activity, which would rein in shadow Super PACs who have been engaging in heavy federal election activity without publicly disclosing their donors.

Editorials: Time doesn’t heal wounds from Bush v. Gore | Stephen Carter/The Morning Call

Saturday marked the 15th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Bush v. Gore, which put a stop to the recount in Florida, and thereby handed George W. Bush the 2000 presidential election. The case excited considerable scholarly argument, along with a partisan rancor that continues to this day. Looking back, however, it’s hard to imagine an outcome that would have left the losing side satisfied — whichever side it happened to be. Let’s remember the background. First, the “election night” count awarded the state to Republican George W. Bush by 1,784 votes over Democrat Al Gore. An automatic recount, required by state law because of the small margin, determined that Bush had won the state by 537 votes. On Nov. 26, the state’s election authority certified that Bush had won. The Gore campaign protested that thousands of ballots — the so-called undervotes — had been rejected by the counting machines and should have been tabulated by hand. The Gore campaign sued, and the Florida Supreme Court, by a vote of 4-3, ordered a manual recount of all undervotes statewide. The Bush campaign then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on Dec. 11 and, on Dec. 12, ordered the recount stopped, on equal protection grounds, because the state had no clear standard for determining voter intent in tabulating the undervotes.

Colorado: Proposal to change how district maps are drawn met with sharp criticism | The Colorado Statesman

A high-profile bipartisan group of former lawmakers and state officials are reworking and resubmitting a ballot initiative that would transform the process through which voting districts are drawn in Colorado. The news comes after the project was unveiled last month with a splash, drawing approval from newspaper editorial boards but sharp criticism on the left — mainly from champions of ethnic minority communities who argue the new plan would unconstitutionally tamp down gains in electoral power made by the communities in recent decades. James Mejia, spokesman for the proposal, said the rollout hasn’t been pretty, but that it was likely never going to be very pretty. “Hey, my compliments to the people have been involved in this and pushing it forward, really,” he said. The proposal was submitted Nov. 17 and labeled Initiative 55 by the Legislative Council.

Florida: Senate rests case in redistricting trial | News Service of Florida

The Florida Senate rested its case in support of a proposed map during the second day of a redistricting trial Tuesday, as lawyers for voting-rights organizations prepared to grill the chief map-drawer for the chamber. The main witness Tuesday was University of Utah political-science professor Baodong Liu, who questioned whether plans offered by the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida would offer Hispanic and African-American voters a chance to elect candidates of their choice in some districts. That requirement is part of the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” amendments, which voters added to the state Constitution in 2010. An original Senate map, approved by lawmakers in 2012, has been set aside under an agreement between the voting-rights groups and the Legislature that acknowledged it would likely be struck down by the courts.

Minnesota: Counties face replacing vote machines | St. Cloud Times

It’s been more than a decade since the Help America Vote Act, which pumped federal dollars into states to upgrade their voting equipment to avoid a repeat of the disastrous problems of the 2000 election. Now, that equipment is starting to show signs of age. Local governments are starting to think about replacing it in the next few years — this time, without federal help. Sherburne County is the first area county to do so. On Tuesday, the county board voted to accept a bid from Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems for about $490,000 for a countywide upgrade of election equipment in time for the 2016 election.

Montana: Lawsuit challenging open primaries headed to trial | Associated Press

Montana Republican officials plan to file an emergency appeal seeking to close the June primary elections to voters who aren’t registered party members, their attorney said Tuesday. The decision by the 10 GOP county central committees to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes after U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Monday denied their request for an order to close the upcoming GOP primaries, attorney Matthew Monforton said. Morris ruled that the Republican plaintiffs have too many unproven claims in their constitutional challenge to the state’s open primary system to decide the case without a trial. They have presented enough evidence to continue the case, but must have data supporting their claims that the system harms their freedom to associate with other party members and forces candidates to change their messages.

North Carolina: State attorneys oppose call for preliminary injunction against photo ID law | Winston-Salem Journal

Attorneys for the state filed court papers Friday opposing the request for a preliminary injunction against the state’s photo ID requirement before the March primaries. The N.C. NAACP filed a motion for a preliminary injunction last month, arguing that allowing the photo ID requirement during the March primaries would cause “irreparable harm” to minority voters. They argue that state officials haven’t done enough to educate voters about the photo ID requirement or about changes that state Republican legislators made to the requirement in June.

North Carolina: Lawsuit: State isn’t complying with federal motor voter law | Associated Press

Advocacy groups and citizens sued North Carolina government leaders Tuesday over what they called a poor effort to fix previously disclosed problems that kept motorists and public assistance applicants from getting properly registered to vote. The state’s elections chief contends that many problems already have been addressed and registration levels are rebounding. The lawsuit in Greensboro federal court comes several months after watchdog organizations wrote elections and health officials and the Division of Motor Vehicles threatening litigation unless they rectified issues associated with carrying out the 1993 federal “motor voter” law. The concerns haven’t been addressed sufficiently, the lawsuit said, and now a court needs to intervene and ensure compliance.

Seychelles: Voting starts in Seychelles presidential run-off | Reuters

The Seychelles voted on Wednesday in the second round of a presidential election in which incumbent James Michel is seeking a third term by touting the Indian Ocean archipelago’s economic expansion under his watch. It is the first time a run-off ballot is being held in Seychelles, where voting runs over three days because of huge distances between some of the 115 islands that are home to 93,000 people. Results are expected late on Friday. Michel, 71, who whose ruling Parti Lepep party, or People’s Party in Creole, has been in power for 38 years, is seen having an edge over Wavel Ramkalawan, a 54-year-old Anglican priest-turned-politician.

Spain: Prime Minister says he’s open to pact after too-close-to-call election | Reuters

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, facing a likely slim win at the election on Sunday according to opinion polls, said on Wednesday he would consider a political pact to assure a stable government over the next term. Rajoy’s conservative ruling People’s Party (PP) which, over the last four years, has presided over one of the worst economic slumps in decades, is seen winning the election but well short of the parliamentary majority it has enjoyed since 2011. The PP’s three political rivals are close behind, with the traditional left-wing Socialists (PSOE) and newcomers including the liberal Ciudadanos and anti-austerity Podemos running neck and neck in the polls.

South Korea: Government passes bill simplifying overseas voter registration | The Korea Times

Overseas voter registration for South Korean elections just got easier thanks to a revised bill passed by the National Assembly last week. Under the bill, the South Korean government will work to install polling stations overseas and to simplify the registration process, starting next year following the April legislative election. Polling stations will be installed in regions with Korean nationals numbering more than 40,000. In New York, that means two stations will be installed in addition to the existing Consulate General.

United Kingdom: Ground rules set for landmark EU vote | The Financial Times

The EU referendum bill, having now passed through Parliament, faces only one final formality, receiving Royal assent, before it passes into law. The new legislation is of historic importance because it sets the ground rules for one of the biggest political contests in the modern history of Britain, governing the funding, the timing and the wording of the referendum. It will allow David Cameron to call a referendum as early as next summer, if he is minded to do so, with as little as 16 weeks’ notice. The government announced its original bill in the Queen’s Speech on May 27, 20 days after the Conservatives won the general election: it was introduced the day after.