Editorials: Radically Revise Campaign Laws to Give People, Not Billionaires, a Voice | Richard Hasen/New York Times

It’s not a new story: Some Americans are looking to the super wealthy to get us out of a political jam. This time, it might be billionaire Michael Bloomberg supposedly saving the country from a Donald Trump-Bernie Sanders race that could leave many voters without an acceptable alternative. Back in 1967, it was the GM heir Stewart Mott providing (what was then considered to be) lots of money to allow Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Wisconsin to challenge President Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic nomination. Johnson, mired in the Vietnam War and wounded by McCarthy, eventually withdrew from the race. We’d rely less on rich white knights If each voter in each election got $100 in publicly financed vouchers for political contributions.

Editorials: Buckley v. Valeo at 40 | Paul H. Jossey/The Hill

Poll Americans on the leading Supreme Court cases of the past 100 years and Buckley v. Valeo, which turns 40 this month, won’t likely place alongside Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, or even Citizens United v. FEC. But it should. Buckley, which considered the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974, has immeasurably impacted how we choose our leaders and discuss public affairs. Most importantly it created the “Buckley distinction,” which protected political expenditures and contributions differently. This court-created split reverberates beyond campaign electioneering to issues like how the IRS polices politics, how the Department of Justice criminalizes political activity, and how the parties influence campaigns. Four decades on, the distinction’s uneasy compromise supplies Buckley’s relevance—for better and worse.

Alabama: Judge sets hearing in suit against Alabama voter ID law | Montgomery Advertiser

n a Jan. 21 order, U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler, based in Tuscaloosa, set a Feb. 11 hearing on Greater Birmingham Ministries’ move for a preliminary injunction that would suspend the photo identification rule for the March 1 primaries in Alabama. But Coogler said in his order that he could cancel the hearing if he “determines that Plaintiffs’ motion may be decided on the papers.” Coogler also limited the defendants in the lawsuit to Secretary of State John Merrill. The voter ID law, passed by the Alabama Legislature in 2011, requires those voting to have photo identification, such as a driver’s license, before casting ballots. The state did not immediately enforce the new law. But after a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was seen as gutting the law, Alabama officials put the law into effect.

Florida: Hacking into Supervisors of Elections Office | Fox 4

Is the Supervisor of Elections computer system vulnerable to hackers? Dan Sinclair, who is running against Sharon Harrington, says it is. In a FOX 4 exclusive, Sinclair and his team show how they were able to infiltrate one of the Supervisor of Elections servers. Using a structured query languange.injection, Sinclair and David Levin were able to gain immediate access to a server. From there, they collected the passwords for everyone that works in the Supervisor of Elections office for Lee County.

Maryland: Hogan proposing independent redistricting | The Washington Post

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Tuesday proposed creating a nonpartisan redistricting panel to draw Maryland’s legislative and congressional districts, a change that would strip that power from the legislature and the governor’s office. … The redistricting proposal — which will be formally introduced in the legislature Wednesday — would require an amendment to the state constitution. The change would have to be approved both by the Democratic-majority legislature and by voters. Democratic legislative leaders have vowed to resist such redistricting changes, saying they prefer to wait for national redistricting reform that would also affect states where Republicans control the legislatures.

Editorials: Ex-offenders and the right to vote in Maryland | E.R. Shipp/Baltimore Sun

These are probably frightening words to anyone who wants to maintain the political status quo: “I have a criminal record. I pledge to vote in 2016 elections because I care about my neighborhood and want to add my voice to improve everyone’s quality of life.” Let’s just suppose that a significant barrier to voting in Maryland is removed Feb. 5th and residents with felony convictions are allowed to vote as soon as they leave prison, rather than having to wait until they complete community supervision requirements. “We’re talking about infusing maybe 40,000 voters into the democratic process,” says Perry Hopkins, a community organizer who has been ubiquitous on this issue as well as on the untenable conditions that led city housing officials to agree to pay up to $8 million to settle sexual harassment claims brought by some of its public housing tenants.

New York: Early voting: Cuomo wants it; Counties have concerns | Poughkeepsie Journal

Registered voters in New York wouldn’t have to wait until Election Day to cast their ballot in person if Gov. Andrew Cuomo has his way. A measure in Cuomo’s $145 billion budget proposal would make New York the 38th state in the country to allow early voting, in which a limited number of polling places are opened ahead of elections, freeing up voters from having to cast their ballot on a specific day. Supporters of early voting say states should be doing anything they can to make voting more convenient, particularly in New York, where just 29 percent of voters cast their ballot in 2014, a gubernatorial election year.

Editorials: How North Carolina voter ID law has become a dangerous farce | Bob Hall/News & Observer

In a matter of weeks, thousands of North Carolina voters will head to the polls unaware of what they’ll need to vote – and election officials will be hard-pressed to help them. Ironically, conservative Republicans who promoted voting changes could suffer the most. The excitement of the Republican presidential primary will motivate new voters to show up, but newbies are the most likely not to have followed the twists and turns of election rule changes. Will they be helped or frustrated at the polls? At this point, it’s up to Gov. Pat McCrory. Here’s why. The new law cuts out safety-net provisions for new voters and dumps a load of confusing regulations on poll workers. That combination is making it hard for election officials to do their jobs.

Ohio: Christian group, tea party activists urge delay in online voter registration | The Columbus Dispatch

If Ohio is going to implement online voter registration, it should be delayed until after the presidential election, the leader of a coalition that includes a religious group and tea party activists told lawmakers Tuesday. The website could be hacked, and thus it’s a poor decision to try to implement online voter registration during a high-volume, high-stakes presidential election, Christopher Long, president of the Ohio Christian Alliance, told a House committee. But lawmakers in both parties pushed back against his concerns. Rep. Louis “Bill” Blessing, R-Cincinnati, questioned if any other states have encountered security issues with their online systems.

Iran: Election gatekeepers keep tight controls on candidates for key panel | The Washington Post

Iran’s election overseers have cleared only one-fifth of the potential candidates seeking a spot on the panel with powers to select the country’s next supreme leader, an official said Tuesday. The rejections appear to be another stand by hard-liners seeking to hold back more moderate-leaning groups after some high-profile strides under President Hassan Rouhani, including a nuclear deal with world powers that lifted international sanctions. Such widespread vetting of candidates is a fixture of Iranian politics that allows the culling of those perceived as potential threats to the ruling system and its protectors, led by the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Nauru: Barriers for women in Nauru elections | Radio New Zealand

An aspiring female candidate in Nauru Ann Hubert says cultural barriers are holding women back from being involved in politics in the country. Elections are to be held later this year, and the United Nations has held a series of workshops hoping to increase the participation of women. Ms Hubert says women are more educated than men in Nauru, but both women and men see Parliament as a man’s job. “When it came to the actual polling day, it just went back to like voting for the men. Because either your parents wanted you too, or because your husband told you to vote, and then it went back to the cultural, it’s the man that you should vote for, because they should be running the country, not the women.”

Philippines: Comelec prepares trusted build of poll software | CNN

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday (January 26) came up with the trusted build of the software that will be used to run the election management system (EMS) of the May 9 national and local polls. The supplier of the software, Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM), and the international certifier, SLI Global Solutions, put the trusted build together based on the customized source code reviewed by SLI in Denver, Colorado, USA. They were supervised by members of the Comelec and representatives from the Technical Evaluation Committee of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). On its website, the Comelec defines the trusted build as “the process whereby the source code is converted to machine-readable binary instructions (executable code) for the computer. It is performed with adequate security measures implemented to give confidence that the executable code is a verifiable and faithful representation of the source code.”

Tanzania: Zanzibar election re-run raises likelihood of confrontation | African Arguments

After a long period of negotiations, it was announced on Friday that Zanzibar will hold a re-run of elections on 20 March. The news was accompanied by a deployment of security forces in the semi-autonomous archipelago and was greeted with anger by many on the streets of the capital. “We have been cheated,” exclaimed one resident of Stone Town. “They will be here up to the 20 March, there is no freedom in Zanzibar,” said another. The decision comes three months after elections in October 2015 were controversially annulled by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission chairman, Jecha Salim Jecha, who claimed that there had been irregularities. The Tanzanian army had a strong presence in Stone Town and had surrounded the Commission.