National: Campaign Bitcoins Proliferate, but FEC Rules Unclear | Roll Call

Candidates testing the waters of bitcoin fundraising are following different sets of rules as they go along, a function of both the freewheeling culture of the digital currency world and of mixed signals from the Federal Election Commission. The FEC approved bitcoin fundraising in a unanimous advisory opinion on May 8, but the agency’s six commissioners immediately began a public dispute over what that decision actually means. At issue is whether digital currency contributions must be capped at $100 per election per donor, or whether candidates, political action committees and parties may accept the virtual currency in larger amounts. The commission’s three Democrats maintain that they approved of bitcoin fundraising only to the $100 cap, and in a statement cited “serious concerns” about the potential difficulty verifying virtual transactions. But the commission’s GOP chairman, Lee E. Goodman, countered in his own statement that bitcoins are in-kind donations, and must therefore be capped only at existing contribution limits — $2,600 for a candidate and $5,000 for a PAC per election. “Innovation and technology should not and will not stand idly by while the commission dithers,” he declared.

National: Court extends stay in Arizona, Kansas voting case | Associated Press

A federal appeals court extended its order allowing Kansas and Arizona residents to continue registering to vote using a federal form without having to show proof of citizenship. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its order late Monday and granted an expedited hearing on the merits of the case sought by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and voting rights groups. Earlier this month, the appeals court issued its emergency stay of U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren’s ruling ordering the commission to immediately modify its federal voter registration form to add special instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about those states’ proof-of-citizenship requirements.

National: Republicans drag their feet on fixing the Voting Rights Act | MSNBC

The Republican lawmaker in a key position to help bolster the Voting Rights Act (VRA) isn’t convinced new legislation is needed, and wants more evidence that current laws aren’t strong enough to stop racial discrimination in voting, according to people involved in the discussions. Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s go-slow approach—which comes as efforts to pass the bipartisan measure before this fall’s midterm elections enter a critical phase—is causing frustration among voting-rights advocates. Goodlatte chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Before agreeing to hold a hearing on the bill, Goodlatte has asked for examples of voting discrimination that have occurred since the Supreme Court weakened the VRA last year in Shelby County v. Holder, as well as information on how such incidents would have been stopped by the proposed legislation. Lobbyists with the NAACP responded to Goodlatte’s request last week with a 16,000-word document outlining a slew of discriminatory voting changes stopped by the VRA before the Shelby decision, as well as several new ones that went into effect after the landmark civil rights law was eroded.

National: FEC Decision Pushes Bitcoin Further Toward Legitimacy | MintPress

The U.S. Federal Election Commission has taken a leap into the Digital Age, approving the use of the virtual currency Bitcoin to make financial contributions to political candidates. The FEC’s move comes as several candidates running in this year’s midterm elections have started accepting Bitcoin contributions. In an opinion issued earlier this month, the agency’s six commissioners unanimously adopted guidelines proposed by the Make Your Laws political action committee. The Federal Election Campaign Act defines a “contribution” as “any gift … of money or anything of value,” and, the commission concluded, Bitcoins “are ‘money or anything of value’ within the meaning of the Act.” Under Make Your Laws’ guidelines, contributions will be limited to $100 per donor per election cycle and, to promote transparency, an individual must provide identifying information, including name, physical address and employer, in order to make a contribution.

National: Democratic Party considers Internet voting in 2016 election |

Democrats are seriously considering using the Internet for voters to cast their ballots in the 2016 presidential election saying such a process will help their party’s new president, according to news reports on Saturday. The party leaders during a recent Democratic National Committee meeting in Iowa claimed Internet voting would make it easier for their constituents to cast their ballots including military voters serving overseas. … But such a revision to the nation’s election system will be difficult once the debate takes a more prominent place within political dialogue. Several experts in law enforcement, computer science and social media are suspicious of the Internet being used to choose political leaders especially when it comes to national elections. “These Democrats are the same people who were behind the Obamacare website fiasco that is still being remedied at a cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. They couldn’t even get an enrollment website functioning properly so how do we trust them to get Internet voting problem-free,” said political strategist Mike Baker. “Can you imagine hundreds of thousands of votes suddenly lost forever in cyperspace? And without proper screening who is to say someone voting online is really the person they claim to be?” Baker asks.

National: Voter citizenship lawsuit looms over 2014 election | Associated Press

After Kansas began requiring residents to prove they were U.S. citizens to register to vote, the League of Women Voters started focusing its voter registration efforts at naturalization ceremonies, where people readily have such documents on them. Now that immigration officials have prohibited them from copying naturalization certificates, new citizens face discrimination and significant roadblocks in registering to vote, the group told a federal appeals court Thursday. The latest court filing by voting rights groups in a lawsuit unfolding before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals portrays a sample of the possible impacts at issue in the run-up to this year’s elections. Kansas and Arizona are seeking to force the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to change its federal voter registration form for those states to include special instructions requiring citizenship documentation. In March, a federal judge agreed and ordered the commission to immediately modify its forms, but the 10th Circuit last week put that ruling on hold, at least temporarily. Whatever the courts decide will affect primary elections in August and the general election in November.

National: Voter rights group: Registration law blocks new citizens | Associated Press

After Kansas began requiring residents to prove they were U.S. citizens to register to vote, the League of Women Voters started focusing its voter registration efforts at naturalization ceremonies, where people readily have such documents on them. Now that immigration officials have prohibited them from copying naturalization certificates, new citizens face discrimination and significant roadblocks in registering to vote, the group told a federal appeals court Thursday. The latest court filing by voting rights groups in a lawsuit unfolding before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals portrays a sample of the possible impacts at issue in the run-up to this year’s elections. Kansas and Arizona are seeking to force the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to change its federal voter registration form for those states to include special instructions requiring citizenship documentation. In March, a federal judge agreed and ordered the commission to immediately modify its forms, but the 10th Circuit last week put that ruling on hold, at least temporarily. Whatever the courts decide will affect primary elections in August and the general election in November.

National: Paul Diverges From His Party Over Voter ID | New York Times

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky broke Friday with fellow Republicans who have pushed for stricter voting laws as a way to crack down on fraud at the polls, saying that the focus on such measures alienates and insults African-Americans and hurts the party. “Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Mr. Paul said in an interview. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.” Mr. Paul becomes the most prominent member of his party — and among the very few — to distance himself from the voting restrictions and the campaign for their passage in states under Republican control, including North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, that can determine presidential elections. Civil rights groups call the laws a transparent effort to depress black turnout.

National: Problem at the polls: Tech stuck in past | The Hill

In the world of iPads, Google Glass and even bitcoin, voting technology remains stuck in a virtual dark age. Nearly 14 years after the 2000 election recount debacle in Florida, election officials now face the challenge of replacing voting machines that are on their last legs in a rapidly changing tech world that’s moved even beyond the changes spurred by that voting mess. Transitioning to modern voting machines, however, won’t be easy due to a lack of advanced machines, small budgets and a burdensome regulatory process. The next frontier to replace aging and unreliable machines should be commercially made and software-only products, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration said in a January report. “Tablet computers such as iPads are common components of these new technologies. They can be integrated into the check-in, voting and verification processes in the polling place,” the report said.

National: Court issues temporary stay over voter citizenship | Associated Press

Kansas and Arizona residents can continue to register to vote for now using a federal form without having to provide proof of citizenship, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed a ruling from U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren that orders the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to modify its federal voter registration form to add special instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about those states’ proof-of-citizenship requirements. Circuit Judges Carlos Lucero and Jerome Holmes granted the emergency stay sought Thursday by the commission and voting rights groups, a day after Melgren rejected a similar request to suspend his ruling during the appeal. Melgren had ordered the commission on Wednesday to carry out “without further delay” his March 19 directive. The temporary halt is in effect until further order from the appeals court. The 10th Circuit judges gave Kansas and Arizona until Tuesday to respond to the commission’s request to suspend the ruling during the appeal. … In addition to the stay, the commission also asked the court Thursday to consider its appeal of the decision itself on an expedited basis, preferably in a special session this summer. The EAC argued in its filing that the decision will cause “considerable uncertainty” for voters in Arizona and Kansas in the run-up to the primaries in those states in August and the general election in November. Both states’ elections include federal offices.

National: Efforts to revive Voting Rights Act provision stall in Congress | Dallas Morning News

Ten months after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, efforts have stalled in Congress to restore federal scrutiny of states with a history of racial bias. Freed from the need for Justice Department approval before changing election rules, even minor ones, states moved quickly to impose tight voter ID laws. But changes are also playing out quietly at the local level. In Jasper, an East Texas town with a history of racial tension, the City Council is deciding whether to annex mostly white subdivisions. In Galveston, Texas, some court districts have been eliminated. Civil rights advocates complain that these moves dilute minority populations, unfairly reducing the influence of non-white voters. Before last summer’s court ruling, such changes in nine states could not take effect without pre-approval from Washington. Defenders of the decades-old system say the oversight served as a deterrent, prompting state and local officials to think twice before imposing burdensome or even unconstitutional measures.

National: Federal Election Commission approves bitcoin donations to political committees | Washington Post

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday gave a green light to donating bitcoins to political committees, one of the first rulings by a government agency on how to treat the virtual currency. In a 6-to-0 vote, the panel said that a PAC can accept bitcoin donations, as well as purchase them, but it must sell its bitcoins and convert them into U.S. dollars before they are deposited into an official campaign account. The commission did not approve the use of bitcoin to acquire goods and services. After the vote, however, individual commissioners offered sharply divergent views on whether their decision limits bitcoin donations to small amounts — creating more uncertainty about how much of the Internet currency that political committees can accept. The FEC had deadlocked on a similar question in the fall, with the three Democratic appointees saying they wanted the agency to take more time to study the issue and develop a formal policy to govern the use of bitcoins in campaigns. At the time, some commissioners expressed concern that the virtual currency could be used to mask the identity of donors.

National: As States Vote In Primaries, Voter ID Laws Come Under Scrutiny | NPR

Three states are holding primaries Tuesday, and voters might understandably be confused over what kind of identification they need to show at the polls. In Indiana, it has to be a government-issued photo ID. In Ohio, you can get by with a utility bill. In North Carolina, you won’t need a photo ID until 2016. But that law, along with ID laws in many other states, faces an uncertain future. “We have Florida, Georgia, Indiana,” says Wendy Underhill, of the National Conference of State Legislatures. She’s ticking off the names of some of the states that required voters to show a photo ID back in 2012.  When it comes to state voting laws, Underhill has an important job: She’s the keeper of a frequently consulted list of ID requirements, which seems to change almost daily. (The NCSL has this online resource of voter ID requirements.) This year, Underhill says, there are 16 states that require voters to show a photo ID, eight of which have what are called strict photo ID rules. That means without the credential, you basically can’t vote. “But one of those is Arkansas, and so in Arkansas we don’t know whether that will be in place or not,” Underhill says.

National: Judge refuses to halt order over voter citizenship | Associated Press

Voters in Kansas and Arizona will have to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship when registering to vote using the federal form even as a U.S. agency appeals a federal judge’s order that helps those states enforce their voter registration requirements, the judge ruled Wednesday. U.S. District Eric Melgren rejected the requests from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and voting rights groups to put his earlier ruling on hold while the case goes to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Melgren ruled on March 19 that the commission must immediately modify a national voter registration form to add special instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about those states’ proof-of-citizenship requirements. The commission contends that the added documentation burdens result in an overall decrease in registration of eligible citizens, undermining the purpose of the National Voter Registration Act. The states argue the requirement protects the integrity of their elections by ensuring noncitizens aren’t voting.

National: RNC set to join landmark suit taking on campaign limits | Washington Times

Members of the Republican National Committee gathering in Memphis, Tennessee, for their spring meeting are set to join a lawsuit seeking to strike down campaign finance limits and free the GOP to spend unlimited money on get-out-the-vote efforts. Republicans have long argued that “soft money” spending limits imposed on political parties by the Federal Election Commission in the aftermath of the 2002 McCain-Feingold law have punished the RNC and state political parties while letting pro-Democrat unions spend unlimited money to organize voters. The lawsuit specifically will ask the courts to allow national and state parties to form super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited amounts on election efforts, something the FEC has prohibited. “We think this will put the final nail in the coffin of the McCain-Feingold law,” Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere said in an interview.

National: Is the Voting Rights Act making a comeback? | MSNBC

The chances of Congress acting to fix the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which was weakened by the Supreme Court last summer, appear slimmer by the week. But lately, it looks like the landmark civil rights law might end up being strengthened in a different way: by being used. Last Tuesday, a federal judge in Wisconsin struck down the state’s voter ID law, ruling that it violates the VRA’s Section 2, which bars racial discrimination in voting. The state has said it will appeal the ruling. Two days later, voting rights advocates filed suit against Ohio’s recent cuts to early voting, again alleging a violation of Section 2. “I think it’s exactly what the federal courts should be doing,” said Daniel Tokaji, an election law professor at Ohio State University, referring to the Wisconsin ruling, and the potential for a similar verdict in Ohio. “When partisan politicians go too far to restrict the right to vote in an effort to serve their own ends, courts aren’t likely to look on that kindly.”

National: Opponents of voter ID laws see time to fight running out | The Hill

Critics of tough voter ID laws are running out of time and options in their efforts to knock down those barriers ahead of this year’s midterm elections. Opponents got good news last week, when a state judge struck down Arkansas’s law, and another jolt Tuesday, when a federal judge ruled Wisconsin’s law, which wasn’t yet in effect, was unconstitutional. But their enthusiasm could be short-lived. At least eight states are still slated to have strict photo ID requirements in place in November, leading voting rights advocates to send dire warnings about potential disenfranchisement at the polls this year. Yet on Capitol Hill, the voter ID issue remains as partisan as ever, forcing even the sponsors of bills softening those rules to concede that their legislation has no chance of moving through a divided Congress in 2014. “My bill probably doesn’t have a lot of hope to it right now,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), who’s pushing a proposal essentially nullifying many of the state-based ID requirements enacted in recent years, mostly by GOP legislatures, in the name of tackling election fraud. Instead, Democrats, advocates and other voter ID critics see their best hope in passing an update to the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the 1965 civil rights law that the Supreme Court gutted last summer.

National: Shining a Spotlight on How the Laboratories of Democracy Are Administering Elections | Work in Progress

A recurring lament among reformers is that the basic structural features of our constitutional system get in the way of needed change. For example, many believe that our federal system decentralizes policy-making and gives rise to partisan feuds in ways that thwart the adoption of positive reforms and enable bad situations to persist. This is certainly a common refrain with respect to our decentralized system for administering elections and the chronic problems associated with it. But there is a silver lining sewn into our federal system—namely, the potential for experimentation, innovation, and—not least—productive competition among what Justice Brandeis called our “laboratories of democracy.” State and local governments are free in many domains to tackle common problems differently, as they might see fit. Superior approaches developed in one state or locality can thus be adopted in places where performance is subpar. If not, the onus is on the underperforming policy-makers and administrators to explain themselves to their underserved citizens.

National: Why dark money is likely to keep flowing in campaigns, in 1 Senate hearing | Washington Post

A Senate Rules committee hearing opened Wednesday with a big announcement: This year, Senate Democrats plan to hold a floor vote on a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to overturn Citizens United and other controversial Supreme Court campaign finance decisions. The next two hours illustrated why the bill has little chance of success in a divided Congress. The hearing was set to examine the influence of political groups financed by secret donors, but it did more to expose the current chasm between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to regulating money in politics. Those on the left – along with independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who chaired the session – spent the morning bemoaning the flood of unregulated money into campaigns. “I’m deeply worried about the future of our democracy,” said King, who later held up a chart showing a dizzying web of nonprofits that make up the political network backed by Charles and David Koch and other conservative donors. Those on the right used the session to decry campaign finance restrictions as attempts to curtail free speech. “Let’s stop pretending more speech somehow threatens our democracy,” said Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. He had his own chart: a blown-up text of the First Amendment.

National: Wisconsin threw out voter ID Tuesday. It’s a fight still playing out in 12 other states. | Washington Post

A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter ID law Tuesday, less than a week after a Circuit Court judge found Arkansas’ voter ID law unconstitutional. At least one more court decision should come down before November, but voting rights cases and legislation are brewing in plenty of other places worth keeping an eye on this year. Here’s a guide of what to watch — and where.


A federal judge ruled in March that Arizona’s 2004 law requiring new voters who register by mail to prove documentation of U.S. citizenship was valid. The Supreme Court had invalidated part of Arizona’s law last year, after which the state joined up with Kansas, which passed its own proof-of-citizenship voter requirements last year. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the the 1993 National Voter Registration Act had mandated that states use the federal voter registration form, so Arizona’s more complicated form — which opponents say targeted the state’s large Latino community — is not valid. Voting expert Richard Pildes told NPR at the time, “What Justice Scalia has essentially said here for a substantial majority of the court is if you want modifications to these federal forms that have been required up till now, you have to go to this commission to get those modifications.” The decision in Arizona and Kansas’ case last month requires that Election Assistance Commission to modify the federal registration form to include Kansas and Arizona’s requirements, saying that the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to regulate elections. The case is heading to the 10th Circuit of Appeals later this year.

National: Will popular vote elect president in 2020? | The Hill

The movement to change how presidents are elected is gaining steam and proponents of the long-stalled popular vote initiative are predicting victory by 2020. Eleven states/jurisdictions have enacted the National Popular Vote (NPV) bill, giving the proposal 165 electoral votes — 61 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to trigger the new voting system. Legislatures that passed the law include California, Illinois, New Jersey. Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a popular vote bill into law last week. All of these states, as well as the nation’s capital are liberal leaning, but activists note they are making progress in red states, such as Oklahoma and Nebraska. In the 2000 election, George W. Bush lost the popular vote and won the presidency. At the time, Democrats rallied behind the popular vote idea. The memory of that contested election has made many Democrats eager to jump on board, and some Republicans skeptical.

National: Supreme Court suspicious of Ohio law that criminalizes false speech about candidates | The Washington Post

Supreme Court justices across the ideological spectrum seemed deeply suspicious Tuesday of an Ohio law that criminalizes the spreading of false information about a political candidate during a campaign. Now they have to find a way for someone to bring them the proper challenge. Technically, the court was reviewing a decision by a lower court that an antiabortion group did not have the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of Ohio’s law, which is similar to ones in more than a dozen other states. But the justices couldn’t resist giving a preview of their skepticism about what Michael A. Carvin, the Washington lawyer representing the group Susan B. Anthony List, called Ohio’s “ministry of truth” during oral arguments.

National: Parties vie for high ground on November get-out-the-vote efforts | The Hill

Ask any party operative and they’ll tell you that a ground game wins or loses elections. But new voter ID laws and expansive targeting technology have made get-out-the-vote efforts even more complicated and crucial for this year’s midterms and the next presidential election for both parties. After Republicans faced devastating losses in 2012, the GOP is investing heavily in its ground game to prevent a similar outcome in the 2016 presidential year, when Democrats will have the advantage. But Democrats are more immediately worried about 2014. After historic losses in the 2010 elections, when crucial voting blocs stayed home, the party is gearing up for another tough midterm fight by investing tens of millions of dollars in turnout operations in competitive Senate states to translate their presidential ground-game advantage to the midterms. Jeremy Bird, the architect of Obama’s revolutionary data operation, is now involved in that effort with his consulting firm, 270 Strategies. Bird said while many of the same tactics apply, Democrats have to grapple with a different universe of voters in the midterm elections. “We’re not trying to recreate the presidential electorate but trying to create a winning midterm electorate. We’re trying to figure out who are those drop-off voters. Who are the voters likely to vote in presidential elections and likely to vote in midterms if you engage them, educate them and turn them out?” he said.

National: Federal Election Commission to Consider Allowing Bitcoin Donations to Campaigns | NewsBTC

Bitcoin and politics. They may soon go hand-in-hand. Financially speaking, of course. The Federal Election Commission will reportedly consider a request on Wednesday to officially allow political campaigns to accept bitcoin donations in the mid-term elections coming up. The news comes as bitcoin continues its rapid growth and more organizations are embracing the digital currency, which allows for easy transactions less hefty fees charged by traditional card processors. A non-partisan political group by the name of Make Your Laws made the request, which they’re hoping will be approved. Make Your Laws is launching soon, and seeks to use technology to empower citizens when it comes to elections and democracy.

National: Rand Paul calls out GOP over voter fraud claims | MSNBC

Sen. Rand Paul thinks the GOP might be over-hyping instances of voter fraud, and that Republicans shouldn’t scrap early voting. “There is still some fraud, and so we should stop that,” the Kentucky senator, considered a leading potential contender for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination, told former Obama adviser David Axelrod during a sit-down Tuesday at the University of Chicago. “Although the incidence of fraud is relatively small,” Axelrod said. “It probably is, and I think Republicans may have over-emphasized this. I don’t know,” replied Paul, who made clear that, like most of his party, he supports voter ID requirements.

National: Supreme Court hears challenge to Ohio law that bars campaign lies | Cleveland Plain Dealer

U.S. Supreme Court justices of all ideological stripes expressed free speech concerns about an Ohio law that makes it a crime to lie about politicians during an election, making it appear likely they will back a challenge to the law launched by an anti-abortion group. The anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List told the court Tuesday that the law – which allows citizens to file complaints about untruthful statements with Ohio’s Elections Commission – chills free speech when it’s most needed – immediately before an election. Attorney Michael A. Carvin said complaints filed before the commission typically can’t be resolved before an election because of the time it takes to process them. He urged the Supreme Court to reject a lower court’s decision that his group lacks standing to challenge the law because it was never found guilty of a violation. “We’re facing a credible threat,” said Carvin. “We ask the Court to lift this yoke so that we can become full participants in the next election cycle.”

National: Supreme Court to Consider Challenge to Law Against Lying in Elections | Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court will consider Tuesday whether two conservative groups can pursue a free-speech challenge to an Ohio false-statements law that if allowed would advance a broader push against state laws making it illegal to lie about a political candidate or ballot initiative. Although Ohio’s elections commission rarely refers complaints over false statements for prosecution, the conservative groups, including the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List, said the law discouraged them from running advertisements against a Democratic congressman. “It almost never comes to a criminal prosecution, but that doesn’t mean there’s no chilling effect on speech,” Daniel Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University who isn’t involved in the case, said of the law. More than a dozen other states have laws authorizing criminal or civil penalties for spreading falsehoods in political campaigns. The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling, expected by June, is unlikely to affect the state laws or political discourse in the current elections cycle. The case would instead likely be sent back for lower courts to consider whether the false-statement law violates the First Amendment by improperly suppressing protected speech.

National: SCOTUS hears local free speech case today | Cincinnati Inquirer

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a Cincinnati case that touches on free speech in elections, with an anti-abortion group seeking to challenge the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bans lying about political candidates. The case will pit two brilliant but stylistically opposite lawyers against each other, as they make competing arguments before the nine justices. Ohio’s State Solicitor Eric Murphy is an up-and-coming conservative star who will defend the Ohio law. Washington super-lawyer Michael Carvin is a seasoned Supreme Court veteran seeking to knock it down. Murphy and Carvin will face off in a legal clash that began during the 2010 congressional race between then-Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus and his GOP challenger Steve Chabot of Westwood. An anti-abortion group, the Susan B. Anthony List, wanted to launch a billboard ad campaign accusing Driehaus of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions by voting in favor of the federal health reform law.

National: Clock ticking on fix to Voting Rights Act | The Hill

Time is running out for Congress to fix the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court last year struck down major parts of the voting law, and a bipartisan fix has stalled in Congress. The justices ruled that the formula used to designate which parts of the country must face heightened federal voting clearances was outdated and unconstitutional. New legislation, introduced earlier this year, seeks to update the procedures. Advocates believe the bill will pass both chambers of Congress if it is brought up to a vote, but that looks unlikely. In the House, conservative Republicans, especially those from Southern states that are singled out for the extra scrutiny, are skeptical of the measure Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) hammered out with House and Senate Democrats. If the bill were signed into law soon, it would be in effect for this November’s elections. Some Democrats are unhappy with compromises struck to win GOP support related to voter identification. Others on the left are concerned with the scope of the bill. Previously, nine states with histories of voter discrimination were required to get federal approval before they changed their election procedures. Under the new plan, only four states would be forced to seek such approval. Still, most Democrats would back the bill if it comes up for a vote. A number of senior Democrats, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are on board.

National: Meet TrustTheVote, A Project To Make Voting Open Source And Transparent | TechCrunch

How was your last voting experience? Smooth? Perhaps not. The Open Source Election Technology Foundation wants to change that by making voting simpler and more transparent. Its chief effort, called TrustTheVote, is a push to develop airtight, open-source vote casting and tabulation software that can be paired with off-the-shelf hardware. Open-source code and off-the-shelf plastic mean that TrustTheVote will, if it meets its goals, sell better, transparent voting machines to precincts at a fraction of the current cost. Each major election cycle in the United States brings the same whispers: Irregularities in Ohio counties, odd voting machine behavior in Iowa, and constant fringe intrigue about which candidate is getting a secret electronic bump due to a distant relative’s relationship with a voting machine company. It’s not healthy for our democracy.