Editorials: Another blow to campaign finance law | BBC

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday took another big bite out of current campaign finance law, striking down a nearly 40-year-old measure capping the total amount of money individuals could donate to political campaigns and parties. Hanging over today’s court ruling in McCutcheon v FEC is the spectre of the 2010 Citizens United v FEC decision, which allowed corporations and labour unions to make unlimited donations to independent political action committees (super PACs) and fund issue advocacy advertising. This contributed to a general mood on the left and among campaign finance advocates of resigned outrage. “The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on Wednesday striking down aggregate limits on political campaign contributions is no less destructive for being so widely predicted,” writes Jesse Wegman in the New York Times. “This latest outburst of judicial activism in the struggle to render campaign finance laws completely toothless is merely accelerating a historical process that is coming to seem almost inevitable,” he writes.

Editorials: Afghanistan votes on its future | Reuters

The coverage on the impending Afghan presidential elections has been filled with death and chaos — the tragic shooting at the Serena hotel where an international election monitor was killed, the shocking attack on the Afghan Election Commission’s headquarters, the killing of a provincial council candidate and the news that several international monitoring groups are pulling out. These tragedies, however, shift the focus from the major news in Afghanistan this week: Election fever has gripped the nation. I hear from Afghans as well as many foreigners now working in Afghanistan that the excitement about the coming April 5 presidential election is palpable and encouraging. If this election goes relatively smoothly, it will mark the first democratic handover of power in Afghan history. Potential large-scale fraud and violence will be substantial obstacles to overcome, but there are also some positive signs. Voters, observers and security personnel are gearing up with a mixture of enthusiasm and trepidation. Why be optimistic?

Editorials: Canada’s attack on democracy sets tone for Australia | Sydney Morning Herald

Australians who value democracy should turn their eyes to Canada to catch a glimpse of what might be heading our way. Two weeks ago, international academics added their names to a call by 160 Canadian experts to stop a piece of legislation being rushed through parliament that aims to radically change electoral processes in Canada. Introduced by the Conservative Party government in Canada, and with a name that would do George Orwell proud, the ‘’Fair Elections Act’’ seeks to insert partisanship and inequality into Canadian electoral procedures in a manner reminiscent of 19th century processes. The proposed act will reduce voting rights, foster partisan bias in election administration and weaken campaign finance laws. Along with Australia, Canada has a reputation for being a world leader in electoral processes, which makes the proposals all the more shocking and internationally significant. Elections Canada – the equivalent of our Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) – is considered a strong and fiercely independent electoral administrator. But, if passed, the proposed act will move the enforcement arm of the agency into the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, a government department. This will diminish the independence of the agency but also, crucially, it means the activities of the commissioner would no longer be reported to parliament.

Editorials: The Turkish Ballot-Box Revolt That Wasn’t | Sohrab Ahmari/Wall Street Journal

The winding streets and alleys that surround Istanbul’s Taksim Square are lined with designer-clothing stores and fashionable nightclubs and bars. The area is popular with the city’s college students and young professionals, and although a high-stakes municipal vote loomed the next day, on Saturday night it was still teeming with Turkish men in tight jeans and young women in dangerously high heels. My guide to this scene was Onur Dedeoglu, a 27-year-old information-systems manager and Istanbul native whom I’d met earlier that day at an election rally for the Republican People’s Party. Known as CHP, it is the main group opposed to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist and increasingly authoritarian government. You could call them the Gezi generation: It was these young people who last summer took to the streets to protest the government’s plan to raze Gezi, a park near Taksim Square, to make way for a commercial development. The protest movement politically awakened the Gezi generation, and on Sunday they would be joining the estimated 2.5 million young Turks voting for the first time—in local elections across the country that were widely considered a test of strength for the movement and for Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Editorials: The Voting Rights Act: 2006 vs. 2013 | The Daily Collegian

In 2006, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was reauthorized for 25 years by a massive majority of both the House and the Senate. In fact, the Senate reauthorized the bill unanimously by a vote of 98 to 0. In June 2013, the Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder found that Congressional reauthorization by mass majority was not enough to uphold the 48-year-old formula in Section 4(b) of the VRA. Section 4(b) of the VRA is the formula by which states that townships or counties are placed under the jurisdiction and require the consent of the Department of Justice regarding any changes to electoral law. This is called “preclearance,” a power defined in the VRA’s subsequent Section 5. While progressives and liberals across the United States are now up-in-arms over this decision, the truth is that the Supreme Court acted with due deference towards the issue of institutional racism and voting discrimination. Chief Justice Roberts was very clear regarding this issue. His opinion states, “At the same time, voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.” As Roberts states in the majority opinion, the major problem is that, “the Act imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs.” The Supreme Court also agrees that Section 2 of the 15th Amendment provides Congress with the authority to legislate against such discrimination. That is the crux of the problem: Congress.

Editorials: Joshua Spivak on Colorado’s proposed recall election reform | The Colorado Independent

tung by the recalls of two state senators last September, Colorado Democrats are carrying out an age-old tradition – trying to revamp laws about recall elections. Going back at least a century, practically anytime a surprising recall effort has qualified for the ballot, legislators immediately scurry to modify the law. Despite the seemingly self-serving nature of this and many other post-recall reform proposals, Colorado’s Democrats are right in pushing this one forward. If approved, it would clean up poorly drafted statutes that don’t conform to general election laws. They would remove roadblocks to citizens seeking recalls. And, learning from the 2013 snafus in Colorado, they seek to avoid expensive delays and lawsuits. The proposed Colorado changes are an attempt to conform recall law to existing election laws, some of which were passed earlier in 2013. The major focus is to make workable a judicial ruling that prevented the recall from being an all mail election by defining the constitution’s language of “date for holding the election” so that it allows candidates to petition onto the ballot until 15 days before mail ballots are sent out, instead of 15 days before the election closes.

Editorials: New York’s two primary system is indeed costly | Times Union

What would New York City and the state’s 57 counties do with their share of $50 million? Provide housing assistance to victims of domestic violence? Develop after-school or summer youth programs? Provide low-interest loans to businesses to help them expand and create jobs? Help senior citizens with transportation? Or how about reduce property taxes or support community hospitals? These are just some of the options that might be available to New York City and county officials if the state Senate and Assembly consolidated New York state’s two primary elections to one. But the Legislature has not resolved the issue and congressional candidates are now circulating nominating petitions. So, later this year New Yorkers will once again have two primary elections, one in June for the congressional races and another in September for state and local races. The cost to New York City and counties is enormous, as much as $50 million. The roots of the problem go back to 2011, when a federal judge determined that New York was not in compliance with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act.

Editorials: Protect voting rights in Wisconsin | US Rep. Ron Kind/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Voting rights are under attack in Wisconsin. The state Legislature just passed a partisan, anti-democratic bill to reduce voter turnout that is on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature. It would restrict the hours for voting early on weekdays and eliminate early voting on weekends altogether. I strongly urge Gov. Scott Walker to veto this legislation. The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and attacks against that right have no place in Wisconsin. When legislators passed this backwards bill, they made it clear that partisanship is more important to them than the thousands of veterans, seniors, minorities, students and disabled Wisconsinites who will be affected by the legislation. This legislation is an unnecessary fix to a voting system that isn’t broken — a classic example of a solution in search of a problem. If anything, elected officials should be working on ways to increase participation in our democracy, not reduce it.

Editorials: What About the Voters? Requiring Proof of Citizenship to Register to Vote in Federal Elections | Franita Tolson/Huffington Post

Last week, in Kobach v. Election Assistance Commission, a United States federal district court held that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) could not prevent Kansas and Arizona from requesting documentary evidence of citizenship as a prerequisite to registering to vote in federal elections. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, held that the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) preempted the Arizona law because the NVRA requires that states “accept and use” a uniform federal form that allows individuals who attest to U.S. citizenship to register to vote in federal elections without having to provide proof of their citizenship status. Many commentators were pleased with the Inter Tribaldecision, viewing it as a win for federal power. However, I was wary of the opinion because the Court maintained that, despite the existence of broad congressional authority over federal elections, Arizona must be allowed to alter the federal form if the state proves that it cannot properly exercise its constitutional authority to regulate voter qualifications by using the form alone.

Editorials: Voting and proof of citizenship | Chicago Tribune

The battle over requiring voters to prove they are U.S. citizens has been intensely political over the last several years. But it is not one of right vs. wrong. It’s one of right vs. right. The goal of supporters is a sensible one, and so is the goal of opponents. The question is how to weigh each interest — not that the most partisan Democrats or Republicans have shown much inclination to do such calibrating in the name of fairness. Their interest is in gaining or protecting their political advantage. So let’s try to discuss this outside of political advantage. Kansas and Arizona passed laws aimed at making sure no non-citizen casts a ballot. They require prospective voters to show a birth certificate, passport or other document to prove they are citizens. In 2013, Arizona lost a decision in the Supreme Court, which said that it could not unilaterally impose a requirement for voter registration in addition to those imposed under federal law.

Editorials: Iowa jury rightly decides a mistake is not a crime | The Des Moines Register

Kelli Jo Griffin has a criminal record, but she got her life back on track and wanted to become engaged in her community by voting in a local election. For that act, the state of Iowa accused Griffin of a criminal act that could have put her in prison for up to 15 years. That would have been a personal travesty and a cruel injustice. Fortunately, a Lee County District Court jury acquitted her Thursday on charges she intentionally violated state law by registering and voting even though as a convicted felon she had lost that right. Griffin’s criminal prosecution is a result of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s campaign to go after non-citizens and persons with felony records who have registered or voted in Iowa elections. Griffin’s case, the first to go to trial, clearly illustrates why Schultz’s campaign is so terribly misguided.

Editorials: Registering to vote in Kansas and Arizona just got more difficult | The Washington Post

A federal judge on Wednesday sided with two states that want to force new voters to prove they are citizens, over a federal elections commission. In the process, the ruling opens the door to other states that want to impose proof-of-citizenship requirements — and an almost certain Supreme Court showdown over the latest front in the war on voting rights. Kansas and Arizona both require new registrants to provide a birth certificate, passport or some other proof that they are citizens; they sued the U.S. Election Assistance Commission after the EAC refused to modify its federal form to account for the state requirements. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Eric Melgren ruled the EAC didn’t have the authority to deny Kansas and Arizona’s request, and ordered the EAC to modify a national voter registration form to include special instructions for residents of the two states. The ruling won’t have much of an immediate impact on voters. Few voters actually register using the federal form; elections officials in Maricopa County, population nearly 4 million, estimated only about 900 residents had registered to vote using the federal form without showing proof of citizenship.

Editorials: Suppressing the Vote | New York Times

If a federal judge’s disappointing ruling this week on a voter registration case is allowed to stand, state lawmakers around the country could well make it harder for eligible citizens to register to vote in federal as well as state elections. State officials in Kansas and Arizona had sued the United States Election Assistance Commission for refusing to include their strict proof-of-citizenship requirements on the federal voter registration form the commission prepares under the National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “motor voter” law. The federal form requires only that voters state under oath that they are citizens, and while the commission includes certain state-specific instructions on the form, it denied the request by Kansas and Arizona because it found no evidence that noncitizens registering to vote was a “significant problem” in either state.

Editorials: Votes at 16 – is the UK waking up to our young citizens? | openDemocracy

Young people should be welcomed into the democratic system. This is an opportunity we should not pass up. The next general election may be the last in which 16 and 17-year-olds cannot vote, after the announcement that Labour targets the Vote at 16. Extending the vote to 16 has institutional support at the European level. In the UK, however, the vote at 16 may not be an equal one. In January, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan confirmed Labour is considering compulsory voting for 16 and 17-year-olds, arguing that we must “get [young people] into the habit of voting” – a direct reference to the current crisis in electoral turnout. Increasingly, young people do not vote and continue not to vote as they get older. Now, we may be about to punish them with fines for failing to do so.

Editorials: Former drug offender acquitted at rare voter fraud trial in a rebuke to Iowa crackdown | Associated Press

A former drug offender who believed her voting rights had been restored when she cast a ballot last year was acquitted of perjury Thursday, a public rebuke of Iowa’s two-year investigation into voter fraud. The 12-member jury took less than 40 minutes to reject the prosecution’s argument that Kelli Jo Griffin intentionally lied on a voter registration form she filled out for a municipal election in the southeastern Iowa town of Montrose. It was the first trial stemming from the state’s voter fraud investigation championed by Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz. And it highlighted Iowa’s status as one of just four states in which ex-offenders have to apply to the governor to regain their voting rights, under a 2011 order that has created confusion. Griffin, a 40-year-old mother of three young children and one stepdaughter, would have faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted since she was charged as a habitual offender. “I’m glad that I can go back to being a mother,” she told reporters afterward. Griffin had lost her voting rights following a 2008 felony conviction for delivery of less than 100 grams of cocaine. She testified that she believed her right to vote had been restored when she left probation last year, which had been the state’s policy until it was rescinded three years ago by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.

Editorials: Colorado needs a recall election fix | Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz/The Denver Post

The ability to circulate petitions and recall elected officials is a constitutional right. But recall elections are much more difficult than the regularly scheduled elections. They typically are more emotional and controversial. Fewer people vote in recalls so they tend to be less representative, and they are expensive for local governments. County clerks deal with recall elections periodically, more commonly for local officials such as city council members or school board directors. In Colorado last year, we held two recall elections for state legislators — the first time in the history of our state. I supervised one of those recall elections, in which 36 percent of eligible voters participated and cost Pueblo County $270,000. The participation rate would have no doubt been higher and the cost less burdensome had we been able to mail ballots to all registered voters. But a lawsuit by the Libertarian Party revealed 100-year-old constitutional language that candidates have until 15 days before the election to petition onto the ballot, not leaving enough time to print, mail and return ballots. This petition timeline is not in place for any other type of election. It is an even more burdensome timeline for small, rural counties with fewer resources.

Editorials: Whose election is this, anyway? | Times Union

In our republic, there is little as fundamental — as sacrosanct, really — as the voting process. To retain the public’s faith, it must be transparent. So it’s troubling that the Rensselaer County Board of Elections has refused to let the public see the electronic ballot images from last November’s election. These are the digital images taken of the paper ballots that voters fed into machines. Since 2010, in compliance with the Help America Vote Act, three versions of each vote are kept — the paper ballot, which is preserved for two years and only opened if ordered by a judge, and two digital images, the “official” record and a “redundant backup.”

Editorials: Treating Voters the Same, Not Counties and Towns | Fair Elections Legal Network

Last week, the Wisconsin State Senate approved a bill that would bar early voting on weekends and cap total early voting per week at 45 hours.  If this bill is passed and signed, early voting in clerks’ offices will only take place on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Utah is on the verge of passing Election Day registration; Massachusetts is set to approve early voting; and voters in Missouri are collecting signatures to put early voting on the ballot in November.  But Wisconsin seems determined to march into the past.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has offered the press two explanations for this self-inflicted wound on Wisconsin’s election system: (1) rural constituents are saying “‘Why is there such a wide gap between certain parts of the state and how many hours are available to vote when that is not offered to some of those citizens that live in a very rural part of the state?’”; and (2) rural clerks do not have the staff and resources to keep the same early voting hours as cities.  If you are scratching your head, don’t feel alone on this one. No one should expect rural clerks to have the same staff and resources as Milwaukee and Madison’s clerks because population sizes, demand for early voting, and strain on municipal clerks’ offices vary wildly.  According to the 2010 Census, only 10 of the 1,852 municipal clerks (are responsible for over 1 million voting-age residents, or almost a quarter of Wisconsin’s voting-age population.

Editorials: How Could Michigan Elections be Improved? | WMUK

Jocelyn Benson is the Dean of Wayne State University’s Law School and has written a book on the role of state Secretaries of State. Michigan Democrats chose Benson as their nominee for Secretary of State in 2010. She lost that race to the Republican currently in the office, Ruth Johnson. Benson is also the founder of the Michigan Center for Election and Law as well as Military Spouses of Michigan. WMUK’s Gordon Evans asked Benson about drawing legislative boundaries. She has advocated changes in Michigan’s process, which currently leaves it to the lawmakers to agree on the districts for state Legislature, as well as Congress. Benson says any process that involves citizens would have more integrity than the currently system. She says it is difficult to keep politics out of drawing boundaries for legislative districts. But Benson says states that include citizens have a system which is more fair than having lawmakers create their own districts. Benson says election administration should be non-partisan. But she says Secretaries of State can  have a major influence on elections. Benson says both parties are trying to influence races for Secretary of State because they know it’s important. “But it’s still wrong” she says.

Editorials: Are amendments’ path to the Minnesota ballot too easy? | Star Tribune

The passions have cooled from Minnesota’s direct democracy trial of 2012, when the hot issues of gay marriage and voter ID were put to voters, and some legislators are now taking a critical look at the machinery that allowed that to happen. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and veteran Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, want to make it harder for the Legislature to run to the voters with partisan, emotional issues, and risk permanently enshrining today’s popular opinion into the state Constitution. “I feel very strongly about it,” said Bakk, a former union official who worries that a right-to-work policy, which unions see as a threat to the standard of living, could be pushed into the Constitution by a future GOP-controlled Legislature. “To the extent that I can put something in the way to make it a little more difficult for one party to put something on the ballot, it will make me more comfortable when I leave,” Bakk said.

Editorials: European election: So what? | Deutsche Welle

During the last European Parliament election in 2009, fewer than half of Europe’s voters bothered to show up at the ballot box. What’s the EU doing to increase voter turnout – and what are its chances of success? For decades, the European Parliament in Brussels was seen as the place to put old politicians out to pasture. No wonder, then, that European citizens hardly spare much thought for Europe and its institutions. The numbers bear this out: Since the very first European election in 1979, voter turnout has steadily dropped. In 2009, only 43.3 percent of Germans exercised their right to vote, a figure also reflected in the average European turnout. The country with the lowest turnout was Slovakia, at 20 percent. There are many reasons that explain this voter disinterest, chief among them being that most European citizens aren’t familiar with the duties of the European Parliament and the extent of its authority. They’re unaware of how decisions made in Brussels and Strasbourg influence their daily lives.

Editorials: Ohio Mistrusts Democracy | New York Times

Ohio Republicans must not think their political candidates can win a fair fight against Democrats. They’ve decided to rig the state’s election system in their favor, deliberately making voting harder for people who tend to vote Democratic, particularly minorities and the poor. After years of debate and litigation on this issue, Ohio lawmakers know full well that there is no history of electoral fraud in the state and no pattern of abuse by any voters or groups. The sole reason for a series of recently passed bills is that Ohio is a perennial swing state, and Republicans want to give themselves every possible advantage in sending party members to Congress later this year, and putting electoral votes in the Republican column in the 2016 presidential election.

Editorials: Let South Carolina Election Commission oversee county offices to safeguard everyone’s vote | The State

The main reason the Legislature has spent more than a year not fixing the election system that brought us Lillian McBride and Howard Jackson and now Sam Selph — and eight-hour waits to vote and uncounted ballots — is that legislators in the rest of the state don’t understand that Richland County is the canary in the coal mine. They insist that those endless lines and ballots that turn up a year after the fact, uncounted, are unique to Richland County. They’re not, but let’s pretend for argument’s sake that the problem is unique to Richland County. It still isn’t a Richland County problem.

Editorials: Bills should fix problems, not elections | Tom Barrett/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin has, for decades, achieved one of the highest rates of voter participation in the country during presidential elections. That’s something we should celebrate. Unfortunately, since 2011, Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature have rewritten election laws with the primary purpose of ensuring that they remain in power. These actions do not represent democracy. And they certainly don’t reflect the spirit of the first three words of our Constitution, “We the People.” The most recent change restricts the hours for early voting for every municipality in the state, regardless of size. For the city of Milwaukee, city of Madison and other large municipalities, this removes their ability to offer the evening and weekend hours that have existed to accommodate large populations. This legislation further exacerbates a longstanding problem for Milwaukee: the state Legislature’s previous decisions to limit municipalities to one early voting site, regardless of population.

Editorials: Put the right to vote into the Constitution | Jesse Jackson/Chicago Sun-Times

Monday morning I woke up — not with Georgia — but with Selma on my mind. Selma bears witness to the bloody and murderous struggle to end discrimination in voting on the basis of race. The demonstrations there led directly to President Lyndon Baines Johnson signing the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The 1965 Voting Rights Act was historic, designed to redress the unique history of discrimination against African Americans. But it was limited. It did not give each and every American citizen the explicit, constitutionally guaranteed federal right to vote. The 1965 Voting Rights Act has been effective and efficient. Sections 4 and 5 were its heart and soul because they provided for a prior review that prevented racial discrimination in voting. In the recent Shelby decision, a conservative majority of the Supreme Court cut the heart (Section 4) out of the law and left its soul (Section 5) as exposed as a cadaver on a funeral director’s table. Shelby said you can keep the car but you can’t have the keys. The car looks great, but it’s not going anywhere. Now we must all join together in an effort to fix the damage done by Shelby, and revive the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

Editorials: Again, Florida trying to restrict voter rights | Bradenton Herald

Florida is once again trying to constrain voter rights by restricting satellite locations where citizens can deposit absentee ballots. The Legislature is considering a bill that would ban county elections supervisors from accepting completed absentee ballots at branch libraries and tax collector offices, in response to Pinellas County’s defiance of a state order to quit that practice. That voter-friendly option is not only convenient but also saves money, according to several elections supervisors. Florida should allow the eastiest balloting possible, not the toughest.

Editorials: Another legislative ‘fix’ could endanger Kansas voting rights | The Winfield Daily Courier

A bill that would create new limits on when Kansas voters could change their party affiliations is another example of state legislators trying to correct a problem that probably doesn’t exist or at least not to an extent that justifies legislative action. In this case, that “fix” also could limit Kansas voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their preferred candidates. The bill that has passed the Senate Ethics and Election Committee last week would bar Kansas voters from changing their party affiliation from June 1 (the filing deadline for candidates) to Sept. 1 (about a month after the August primary elections). The goal of the bill, according to Kansas Republican Party officials, is to prevent voters from switching parties in order to skew the opposing party’s primary.

Editorials: Don’t undermine Elections Canada | National Post

We, the undersigned — professors at Canadian universities who study the principles and institutions of constitutional democracy — believe that the Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23), if passed, would damage the institution at the heart of our country’s democracy: voting in federal elections. We urge the Government to heed calls for wider consultation in vetting this Bill. While we agree that our electoral system needs some reforms, this Bill contains proposals that would seriously damage the fairness and transparency of federal elections and diminish Canadians’ political participation. Beyond our specific concerns about the Bill’s provisions (see below), we are alarmed at the lack of due process in drafting the Bill and in rushing it through Parliament. We see no justification for introducing legislation of such pivotal importance to our democracy without significant consultation with Elections Canada, opposition parties, and the public at large.

Editorials: North Korea’s Fake Election | Wall Street Journal

North Korea reported a perfect turnout on Sunday for its first national election in five years to confirm state-selected representatives for its rubber-stamp parliament. The election, the first under dictator Kim Jong Un, provides the state with a chance to buttress the leadership by elevating or demoting officials based on their loyalty to the regime. It is also used as an unofficial census, allowing the government to check on the whereabouts of its citizens. Defectors say that some North Koreans return to the country for the election to avoid the state learning of their absence.

Editorials: How the Fair Elections Act might actually hurt the Tories in 2015 | National Post

The federal government has recently introduced legislation aimed at significantly revising the powers of Elections Canada. Critics of the Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23) contend that the bill offers an electoral advantage to the governing Conservatives, suggesting that its provisions have been designed to suppress voter turnout among segments of the population traditionally unfriendly to the Conservatives. That may be true, though we would suggest there are at least two ways in which the Fair Elections Act might actually hurt the Tories come 2015. No wonder the Tories were so nervous. The government had been noticeably skittish about what Marc Mayrand would say before the Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee Thursday: not only had it kept the chief electoral officer largely out of the loop in the months before it introduced its landmark Fair Elections Act, but there was doubt whether he would even be allowed to testify about it afterwards. A promise to that effect had been made to the NDP’s David Christopherson the night before to persuade him to end his filibuster of the Act in committee. Yet on the day Mr. Mayrand’s testimony was interrupted by the calling of not one but two votes in the Commons just as he was scheduled to speak.