Editorials: Free and fair elections attract investment, no matter who’s elected. Here’s why. | Mike Touchton/The Washington Post

If developing countries want to be prosperous and attract international investment, they should hold free and fair elections. That’s the takeaway from my analysis of data on elections and net investment flows in 157 countries between 1990 and 2013, which I presented in a recent paper in International Interactions. Over the past years, illiberal democracy has been spreading across the developing world. By “illiberal democracy” I mean countries like Venezuela, Argentina, and Hungary, which hold elections but curtail civil liberties, where constitutions limit power in theory but where in practice the rule of law is flexible at best, and no one holds leaders to account. For them, it may be useful to know that simply holding free and fair elections makes a big difference in attracting investment, whether a right- or left-leaning party wins the election or whether the country has a broader commitment to political rights. Let’s look at why.

Editorials: Steve Israel: Confessions of a Congressman | The New York Times

It’s now safe to pick up your phones and read your emails. That’s right, I won’t be calling to ask you to donate to my congressional campaign. As I announced on Tuesday, I’ll be leaving Congress at the end of this term — sentimental about many things, but liberated from a fund-raising regime that’s never been more dangerous to our democracy. In the days after my first election to Congress, in 2000, I attended several orientation sessions in Washington, eager to absorb the lessons of history. I wanted to learn what Congressman Abraham Lincoln had learned, to hear the wisdom of predecessors like John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster and Joseph Gurney Cannon. The romance was crushed by lesson No. 1: Get re-elected. A fund-raising consultant advised that if I didn’t raise at least $10,000 a week (in pre-Citizens United dollars), I wouldn’t be back.

Editorials: Initiative 55: Giving Colorado’s unaffiliated voters a voice | Thomas E. Cronin and Robert D. Loevy/The Denver Post

Designing legislative districts that favor one political party or the other is one of the unseen back-room political maneuvers that can have a major influence on the outcome of state elections. But that sort of gerrymander, as the process is often called, may be harder to pull off if an initiated constitutional amendment — Initiative 55 — were to pass. The amendment, which has not yet been certified for the 2016 ballot, could benefit unaffiliated voters in Colorado. Under consideration is a proposal to give them a major role in legislative and congressional redistricting, the drawing of the boundary lines of the districts from which state representatives, state senators, and members of the U.S. House are elected.

Florida: The next redistricting fight: Who pays the attorneys? | Florida Politics

The Florida Legislature is continuing to oppose an effort by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to get their fees paid by state government now that the congressional redistricting case has been closed. Lawyers for House and Senate filed more legal authority with the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday to support their position that the opposing lawyers are “not entitled to an award of attorney’s fees.” Last month, the court gave its final OK to a redrawn version of the state’s 27 congressional districts, three years after a lawsuit alleged they were unconstitutional. The court eventually agreed and ordered a do-over of the map.

Editorials: Guam deserves voting right | Pacific Daily News

A sudden gust of icy wind howls across the bay and into the darkened streets of Boston. The year is 1773, just a week before Christmas Eve. Snow begins to fall from the sky as a small group of colonial men emerge from the shadows. Moving quickly, they board a British vessel carrying a shipment of tea. The story is a familiar one; no American history book would be complete without the account of the Boston Tea Party. This single event is seen by many as the beginning of America’s fight for independence. This act of rebellion sent our battle cry across the Atlantic and into the ears of the king: “No taxation without representation!” Hundreds of years later, every American reaps the benefits of our founder’s actions. Because of the bravery of these men, every single American citizen is allowed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Every American is given a say in who represents them. But that’s not completely true, is it?

Maine: Libertarian Mainers sue state over rejection of bid to create party | Bangor Daily News

A group of Mainers attempting to establish an official Libertarian Party here has sued the secretary of state’s office, claiming that Maine’s rules for establishing a political party are unconstitutional and that there is not an adequate process for appealing decisions by the state. The suit centers on failed efforts last year by the Libertarian Party of Maine Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Brunswick, to become the fourth recognized political party in Maine. It alleges that Maine law violates First and 14th Amendment constitutional rights. Filed Jan. 4 in U.S. District Court by Portland-based attorney John Branson, the suit names as defendants Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn and Assistant Director of Elections Tracy Willett, all in their official capacities.

Michigan: Clerks weigh in on legislation to eliminate straight party voting | Source Newspapers

The signing by Gov. Rick Snyder of legislation to eliminate straight party voting in Michigan on Jan. 5 has received support from some local clerks, who say the measure would force voters to “do their homework” about individual candidates instead of automatically voting for all Democrats or all Republicans on the ballot, while others criticize the bill. “It takes the politics out of voting, and I’m in support of it,” Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot said. “While it will be more of a challenge for voters to study the candidates, I think it’s a good thing. It may take a little more time, but I think it’s a good thing because the voters will have to do their homework before they head to the polls.”

Missouri: Voting on trial: ACLU case against Ferguson-Florissant goes to court | St. Louis Public Radio

Are African-American voters in the Ferguson-Florissant school district shortchanged because board members there are elected at-large? Or would dividing the district into subdistricts actually weaken the clout of black voters, not increase it? U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel will hear arguments for both sides of the issue this week in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU claims that the racial history of the makeup of the board shows that African Americans do not have representation proportional to their population. Dale Ho, an attorney from New York who handles voting rights cases nationwide for the ACLU, says the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014 brought a sharper focus to the issue. But, he added, it really has been present since the 1970s, when the Ferguson-Florissant school district was created from the Ferguson, Berkeley and Kinloch districts under a federal court order.

Pennsylvania: Old voting machines are sticking around | WITF

Pennsylvania’s top elections official says the commonwealth is heading into a big election year with outdated voting machines.
Most of the state’s voting systems were purchased around 10 years ago. They weren’t made to last a decade, creating the possibility of faulty vote tallies and long lines on Election Day. “By some accounts, some of those systems… are at the point at the end of their useful life,” Secretary of State Pedro Cortés told reporters last month. “Some of the vendors may no longer have replacement parts, and you’re setting yourself for potential issues going forward.”

Wisconsin: Two agencies at odds on whether law allows secret donations | Milwaukee Sentinel Journal

A nonpartisan attorney for the Legislature and one of the state’s foremost experts on campaign finance law are disputing a contention by the state’s elections agency that political parties don’t have to publicly disclose contributions they receive from corporations. It is the latest incident in which conclusions of the state Government Accountability Board have been disputed. Frustrated with the agency, Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature have approved dissolving the agency this year and replacing it with two new commissions. “This is just another clear example of why the Government Accountability Board needs to be replaced,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Friday.

Bermuda: No vote for long-term overseas residents | The Royal Gazette

The Bermuda Government has no plans to extend voting rights to Bermudians living permanently abroad. At the end of last year, absentee ballots allowing students to vote were proposed for the new legislative year by the One Bermuda Alliance. However, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, told The Royal Gazette that the Government has no immediate plans to widen it out to include those living overseas long-term. “Because they have moved their place of residence, the constitution is clear, as is the Parliamentary Election Act, that those ordinarily living outside Bermuda cannot vote in Bermuda elections,” Mr Fahy said.

Editorials: Permanent Canadian residents should have the vote | Winnipeg Free Press

Perhaps no country has had greater success than Canada in welcoming newcomers. This is particularly so in our big cities, which have become some of the most harmoniously diverse places in the world. But for a country that celebrates diversity — Canada was the first country in the world to make multiculturalism official policy, and we are now the world’s second-most-heterogeneous society — we are less committed to the backbone of democratic society: voting rights. Recognizing permanent residents pay local taxes and use city services, some 50 countries around the world — including Ireland, New Zealand and Belgium — allow resident non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. Despite a growing movement among Canadian cities to enfranchise permanent residents — the decision lies with provincial legislatures, not municipal councils — Canada is not among them.

Central African Republic: UN Envoy Hails First-Round Election Results, Urges Calm As Process Continues | allAfrica.com

Welcoming today’s announcement of the results of the first round of the presidential elections in the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations envoy for the country has invited the two candidates that will participate in an upcoming run-off poll, “to maintain the spirit of peace and restraint that has prevailed” throughout the process thus far. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, officially appointed today as the UN Secretary-General’s Special representative in the CAR, hailed the results of the first round of the presidential election announced by the National Elections Authority (ANE).

Spain: Deal reached in Catalonia region to avoid new elections | AFP

A fiercely secessionist leader was elected president of the wealthy region of Catalonia thanks to a last-minute show of unity, giving fresh impetus to attempts to break away from Spain after months of infighting. The appointment of Carles Puigdemont, just hours before a deadline which would have forced fresh regional elections, drew an immediate rebuke from Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. “The government won’t allow a single act that could harm the unity and sovereignty of Spain,” Rajoy warned in a live televised appearance in Madrid. Rajoy’s remarks came after Catalonia’s pro-independence faction that won regional parliamentary elections in September finally came to an agreement this weekend over who should lead the new local government.