National: Voter ID Laws May Affect Young Voters | Fox News

The same state voter ID laws that have drawn criticisms from Latino groups and immigrants are now taking heat from young voters. Gone are the days when young voters weren’t taken seriously. In 2008, they helped propel Barack Obama into the Oval Office, supporting him by a 2-1 margin. But that higher profile also has landed them in the middle of the debate over some state laws that regulate voter registration and how people identify themselves at the polls. Since the last election, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Wisconsin and Texas and other states have tried to limit or ban the use of student IDs as voter identification. In Florida, lawmakers tried to limit “third party” organizations, including student groups, from registering new voters.

National: US election: How can it cost $6bn? | BBC

The estimated price tag for the US elections in November is almost $6bn (£3.8bn). Why so much? “The sky is the limit here,” says Michael Toner, former chair of the US Federal Election Commission. “I don’t think you can spend too much.” In a time of general belt-tightening, it may sound like a surprising argument, but Toner believes there should be more – not less – spending on US elections. Anything that engages voters, and makes them more likely to turn out is, he says, a good thing. “It’s very healthy in terms of American politics… it’s a symptom of a very vigorous election season, there’s a lot at stake here.” … New figures just released by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group which tracks money in politics, estimate the total cost of November’s elections (for the presidency, House of Representatives and Senate) will come in at $5.8bn (£3.7bn) – more than the entire annual GDP of Malawi, and up 7% on 2008. It makes UK election spending look microscopic by comparison. A total of £31m ($49m) was spent by all parties in the last general election in the UK two years ago – making US spending 120 times as much, and 23 times as much per person.

National: Dark Money Groups Gone Wild | Mother Jones

You couldn’t devise a better political hit-and-run. In the summer of 2010, an unknown group called the Commission on Hope, Growth, and Opportunity asked (PDF) the Internal Revenue Service to grant it 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. The organization told the IRS it didn’t plan to spend a penny on politics. Once the IRS gave CHGO the green light, however, the group plunged into the 2010 political season. It would ultimately raise $4.8 million—$4 million of that from a single anonymous donor—and spend $2.3 million on TV ads attacking 11 House Democrats running for reelection. (Ten of them lost.) Later, on its 2010 and 2011 tax returns, CHGO claimed it hadn’t spent money on politics. Watchdogs filed complaints against CHGO alleging it had flouted tax and election laws. But sometime in 2011, after the Republicans’ 2010 “shellacking,” CHGO quietly disappeared. The group, and the anonymous individuals behind it, has yet to face any punishment.

National: Federal Voting Commissioners AWOL As Election Approaches | Huffington Post

As local officials gear up for a national election where razor-thin margins could tip the balance of power, the federal agency established after the Florida ballot disaster of 2000 to ensure that every vote gets counted is leaderless and adrift. There are supposed to be four commissioners on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), but right now there are none. The last executive director resigned in November, and the commissioners must vote to appoint a new one. President Barack Obama nominated two new Democratic commissioners last year, but congressional Republicans are trying to defund the agency entirely — which means for now no Republican nominations and no confirmation of the Democrats’ candidates. “If it is still as toothless by November 6 as it is today, I would have every expectation that things will fall through the cracks,” said Estelle H. Rogers, legislative director at Project VOTE, a nonpartisan group that supports voting accessibility. Rogers said the EAC has provided important assistance to local officials with respect to registration forms, poll worker training and issue alerts. “It is kind of disgraceful that we’re headed into a major election and the only federal agency that’s devoted to election administration has zero commissioners,” said Lawrence Norden, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

National: Voter Roll Purges Could Spread To At Least 12 States | Huffington Post

When John Rossler showed up at a mid-July gathering of the nation’s top election officials in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he delivered the kind of big election news that can easily get lost. Rossler is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official who oversees a collection of immigrant information databases known as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program. Rossler told the group that he was prepared to grant access to SAVE, even though the system was not designed to help states verify voter eligibility. And, when the meeting in San Juan was over, two very different views of what happened emerged. In one, the bedrock of American democracy had suddenly been rescued from the threat of non-citizens on the nation’s voter rolls, several state election agencies said in interviews with The Huffington Post. In the other, voting rights advocates insist that as many as 27.4 million Americans in at least 14 states interested in accessing SAVE are suddenly facing the prospect of the kind of deeply flawed effort to identify voter fraud that drew national attention to Florida in June. Fourteen states have expressed interest in SAVE, and while most are developing plans to use it, two say they will not engage in a Florida-style voter purge.

National: Partisan Rifts Hinder Efforts to Improve U.S. Voting System | NYTimes.com

Twelve years after a too-close-to-call presidential contest imploded in a hail of Florida punch card ballots and a bitter 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling for George W. Bush, the country’s voting systems remain as deeply flawed as ever with any prospect of fixing them mired in increasing levels of partisanship. The most recent high-profile fights have been about voter identification requirements and whether they are aimed at stopping fraud or keeping minority group members and the poor from voting. But there are worse problems with voter registration, ballot design, absentee voting and electoral administration. In Ohio, the recommendations of a bipartisan commission on ways to reduce the large number of provisional ballots and long lines at polling stations in 2008 have come to naught after a Republican takeover of both houses of the legislature in 2010. In New York, a redesign of ballots that had been widely considered hard to read and understand was passed by the State Assembly this year. But a partisan dispute in the Senate on other related steps led to paralysis. And states have consistently failed to fix a wide range of electoral flaws identified by a bipartisan commission led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III in 2005. In Florida, for example, the commission found 140,000 voters who had also registered in four other states — some 46,000 of them in New York City alone. When 1,700 of them registered for absentee ballots in the other state, no one investigated. Some 60,000 voters were also simultaneously registered in North and South Carolina.

National: Wide Divide In States’ Voting Preparedness | CBS DC

Nearly four months before the 2012 national elections, a study on U.S. voting preparedness has found that some states are far more ready than others. Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin were all labeled as the “best prepared” states for voting problems and disenfranchisement protection. While on the other hand, Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina are the six “least-prepared” states. The Rutgers Law School released the study that evaluates each state’s preparedness for the 2012 election. According to the study, computerized voting systems have failed in every national election in the past decade in some way: they haven’t started, they failed in the middle of voting, the memory cards couldn’t be read, or the votes were lost as a whole. The study used five categories of proven failures and successes as its basis for judgment in each state. They also protect against machine failures that can change election outcomes and disenfranchised voters.

National: Candidates Look Overseas for Campaign Cash | NYTimes.com

In the hunt for campaign money, no distance is too far to travel, especially when the race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is tight and likely to stay that way into the fall. The Democratic president and his Republican challenger have been aggressively courting Americans living abroad at fundraisers held far beyond U.S. shores. Such efforts serve the dual purpose of raising money to pay for what may be the most expensive election in U.S. history, and galvanizing a largely untapped group of eligible voters. The practice is legal and has been used for decades, said former Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason. Obama has raised nearly $600,000 from Americans abroad while Romney has brought in about $325,000, according to campaign finance records analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. Those figures don’t include sums raised overseas by both party committees or Romney’s take from a pair of fundraisers in London during his visit there last week. The sums are just a fraction of the more than $300 million Obama has raised overall and the $155 million raised by Romney, but every penny counts in a race that is neck and neck, as recent polls have shown.

National: Super PACs: $125 million spent — and counting | CBS News

With less than 100 days to go in the presidential race, nine single-candidate “super” PACs — political action committees that can raise and spend unlimited sums on political expression – have spent $125 million advocating and advertising for their preferred candidate, a CBS News analysis of Federal Election Commission reports shows. Through the first half of 2012, the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future, was the most active super PAC, raising $81 million and spending $60 million through June 30. Two-thirds of its spending, or $40 million, went to negative ads attacking Republican primary opponents Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Super PACs established for six also-ran Republicans — Gingrich, Santorum, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain — spent a combined $36 million dollars on advertising and advocacy during the primaries, which effectively ended when Santorum dropped out in April.

National: Voting Tech Errors Could Be a Deal Breaker in Swing States, Report Says | GovTech

As with any technology, electronic voting machines run the risk of malfunctioning. However, with the upcoming November presidential election, states may want a plan B if a worst-case scenario occurs on Election Day, like if a machine fails to process votes — an issue that could be even more troubling in swing states. History shows that technology doesn’t always cooperate on Election Day. In a 2010 nonpresidential election, North Carolina voters faced problems with electronic voting machines when Republican voters claimed they couldn’t select the Republican candidate while voting because the machines selected the Democratic candidate without the voters’ consent. New York City faced trouble with voting machines that same year due to operational failures and a lack of proper equipment arriving on time at polling sites. To find out how prepared states will be for possible voting system failures in the upcoming election, the Verified Voting Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization; Common Cause, another nonpartisan organization; and Rutgers Law School’s Constitutional Litigation Clinic surveyed each of the 50 states on series of criteria and released a report Wednesday, July 25, that outlines the findings. The report, Counting Votes 2012: A State by State Look at Voting Technology Preparedness, ranked the states based on five evaluation topics. States were asked questions including: Has the state instituted a post-election audit that can determine whether the electronically reported outcomes are correct? Does the state have adequate contingency plans at each polling place in the event of machine failure? According to the report, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin were ranked as best prepared to handle potential voting system malfunctions. Ranked least prepared were Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Overall, the states’ rankings placed them into one of four categories: good, generally good, needs improvement and inadequate.

National: Voter ID laws could swing states | Politico.com

At least 5 million voters, predominantly young and from minority groups sympathetic to President Barack Obama, could be affected by an unprecedented flurry of new legislation by Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures to change or restrict voting rights by Election Day 2012. Supporters of these new laws — spearheaded in six swing states, as well as other less competitive ones — argue they are just trying to stop voter fraud and protect the integrity of the vote. But opponents, mainly Democrats and Obama’s campaign, which is closely monitoring the daily warfare over the new laws, believe they are trying to change the face of the electorate in a way that benefits the Republican candidate for president. Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin, all viewed as important states this fall, each have enacted stricter ID laws. Florida and Ohio have cut back on early voting. And a whole host of other states have passed new ID laws as well. As a result, millions of voters will find it much more difficult to vote on Election Day in November — some estimates, such as one from the Brennan Center of Justice last fall, put the number of those affected nationwide at more than 5 million. In Pennsylvania alone, the state’s Transportation Department released figures showing that more than 750,000 registered voters in the state — 9.2 percent of voters there — do not have the required forms of ID to vote in November.

National: Is your vote secure? Many digital systems lack paper backups, study says | CSMonitor.com

In elections this March in Palm Beach County, Fla., an election management software glitch gave votes to the wrong candidate and the wrong contest. But paper ballots were available, and a recount was done. The mistake was corrected. Such failures are hardly unique. And often they are worse. In every national election in the past decade, computer voting systems have failed with memory-card glitches and other errors that resulted in votes lost or miscounted, according to a new national study, “Counting Votes 2012: A State by State Look at Voting Technology Preparedness.” More than 300 voting-machine problems were reported in the 2010 midterm elections and more than 1,800 in the 2008 general election, according to the study by Common Cause, Rutgers School of Law, and the Verified Voting Foundation. “Voting systems frequently fail,” the study concludes. “And when they fail, votes are lost. Voters in jurisdictions without paper ballots or records for every vote cast, including military and overseas votes, do not have the same protections as states that use paper ballot systems. This is not acceptable.” Download the Report

National: FEC says it will enforce nonprofit disclosure rules | The Washington Post

The Federal Election Commission told political advocacy groups Friday that it would enforce new disclosure rules for some nonprofits under a recent court ruling, but many key groups have taken steps to evade the requirements. Legal experts said the FEC guidance makes it clear that nonprofit groups will have to reveal some of their major donors if they pay for electioneering communications — also known as “issue ads” — that name political candidates but stop short of urging viewers to vote for or against them. But advocacy groups such as the conservative Crossroads GPS still have many ways of evading disclosure, often simply by changing the tenor or language of their advertising, experts said. The rules also only apply to ads that run close to an election. Major advocacy groups had already stopped running issue ads close to primary elections this summer in anticipation of the FEC’s guidance. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said it will simply alter the language of its ads to avoid reporting contributors to the FEC.

National: State systems for overseas voters vulnerable | USAToday.com

States trying to make it easier for troops overseas to vote have set up voting systems that are vulnerable to hacking when they allow voters to return ballots online, via e-mail, or Internet fax, says a state-by-state report to be released today. The report, Counting Votes 2012, by the Verified Voting Foundation and Common Cause Education Fund, says all states should require overseas ballots to be mailed because even faxed ballots can’t be independently audited. “They’re trying to do a calculus and make it easy for the voter, and they may not realize the great risk they’re putting those votes at,” says Pam Smith of the Verified Voting Foundation, a group that advocates accuracy and verifiability of election returns. The report also rates states on their ability to accurately count votes, and it warns that progress away from paperless voting — which leaves nothing to recount in a dispute — has been halted by the lagging economy.

National: Outside groups may have to disclose donors | Politico.com

Secretive outside groups shelling out millions of dollars for political advertisements could now be required to disclose the donors who cut them big checks. Responding to a recent court decision, the Federal Election Commission said Friday that it will force nonprofit groups that air ads that refer to specific federal candidates, but don’t overtly advocate for or against them, to report the names and addresses of donors who give more than $1,000. The FEC’s enforcement could affect nonprofits such as the Karl Rove-backed conservative group Crossroads GPS, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Democratic group Priorities USA. Those groups have been able to raise unlimited amounts from donors, but haven’t been forced to disclose their names. The agency will require groups to report their donors retroactively, it said Friday. Groups will be forced to report donors who gave more than $1,000 since March 30, 2012.

National: Embattled postal service faces challenge on Election Day | NBC

In states that rely largely or entirely on vote-by-mail or absentee ballots, a pre-Nov. 6 disruption of mail delivery caused by the U.S. Postal Service’s fiscal crisis would be a fiasco for voters and election officials. With partisan battles already under way on voter eligibility across the nation over fears of voter fraud and charges of vote suppression, the last thing the upcoming election needs is another procedural snafu. Washington and Oregon voters cast their ballots entirely by mail or at local drop boxes, and in California’s June primary, nearly two out of three voters cast their ballots by mail. Even in states where voters still show up in person to vote at their local precinct, absentee voting by mail is common. In order for the election to take place, the mail must get delivered promptly – no matter how dire the Postal Service’s fiscal crisis is – and it’s dire indeed. In the second quarter of its fiscal year (January to March) the Postal Service lost $3.2 billion. Congressional postal experts will be scrutinizing its third-quarter financial statement on Aug. 9 to see if the distress has worsened. While the Senate has passed a reform bill to keep the Postal Service afloat, the House hasn’t yet acted. Urging the House to move, one of the Senate reform leaders, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said Wednesday “Only one week from now, the Postal Service will default on a $5.5 billion payment to Treasury – further eroding the confidence of the millions of customers and businesses” that rely on mail to get delivered.

National: Karl Rove’s Catch-22 | Mother Jones

For all the headlines and hand-wringing about super-PACs, it is dark-money nonprofits like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity that dominate the political money wars. These politically oriented groups, which keep their donors secret, outspent super-PACs 3-to-2 in the 2010 elections. Through the spring of 2012, 91 percent of advertising by independent groups came from nonprofits and big business trade groups. And a growing pile of evidence suggests that it’s these nonprofits, not super-PACs, hauling in the bulk of corporate political cash. But come Saturday, the dark-money nonprofits face a dilemma. A high-profile court case known as Van Hollen v. FEC threatens to shine an unwelcome beam of sunlight on donors bankrolling these organizations. Nothing’s stopping Crossroads GPS or AFP from running more “issue” ads hitting Obama and other Democrats (that is, ads that don’t explicitly say “vote for” or “vote against”). Except now nonprofits will have to reveal who funded those spots. Dark-money nonprofits don’t want to name names. Their pitch to donors includes the promise of anonymity and a shield from public scrutiny. This means that Crossroads GPS and other politically active nonprofits—which aren’t supposed to make politicking their primary purpose—have to rethink their ad strategy, election experts say. Do they shift money to super-PACs? Go dark in the months before the election? Find another loophole to run ads and keep their donors secret?

National: Republicans hit Justice Department on voter ID | The Associated Press

House Republicans on Thursday criticized the Justice Department’s decision to challenge new voter ID laws in several states, saying it shows the Obama Administration is more concerned with Democrats winning in November than protecting against election fraud.
“The Department of Justice has embarrassed itself,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. “The partisan bias is obvious.” Thomas Perez, the department’s chief civil rights enforcer, denied any partisan bias or motivation in bringing federal court challenges under the Voting Rights Act to recently passed voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina. In both states, Republican-controlled legislatures passed laws requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification in order to vote. The Justice Department indicated this week it also is looking at whether Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act, a 1965 law for ensuring minorities’ right to vote. “Our philosophy has been very straight forward,” Perez told a House Judiciary subcommittee that Franks chairs. “We want to enforce laws. There’s a robust debate in this country, and we think we need to continue to have that debate and we do our level best to ensure that every eligible voter casts their vote and has access to the ballot.”

National: Voting Machine Report: States Ranked Based On Use Of Paper Ballots | Huffington Post

Six states received the lowest grades for their abilities to accurately count election results based on their lack of access to paper ballots, according to a report released Wednesday by Common Cause, Rutgers Law School and the Verified Voting Foundation. The report — which studied election technology and administration in the 50 states and the District of Columbia — calls primarily for states to implement paper ballots in all counties in order to guard against system failures and other issues. The grading centered primarily on whether the state had paper trails in place. “The biggest problem is if those machines malfunction, there is no way to independently check,” Susannah Goodman, director of the voting integrity project at Common Cause said in a conference call with reporters. “What was the voters’ intent? You can’t do an audit.” The report showed that Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin were best when it came to catching voting problems, while Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina ranked at the bottom of the list. States were graded on whether their machines leave a paper trail, whether an audit is done of ballots, whether election officials check the vote count against the amount of voters who come to the polls, whether there are contingency plans in place in case of machine failure, and whether voting-by-mail is encouraged over online voting for military and overseas voters. Failure in the paper ballot category led to failure for states in the audit category, given the need for paper ballots to conduct the audit. “For states that don’t have paper ballots or records, it knocks them down,” Goodman said.

National: Only 5 states very well-prepared to handle voting machine errors, study finds | ABC News

How equipped is your state to handle voting machine errors? Chances are, not overly prepared. Apparently just five states—Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin—are “exceptionally well-prepared” to deal with voting machine problems and breakdowns, according to a new study released Wednesday by Common Cause in conjunction with the Verified Voting Foundation and the Rutgers Law School Constitutional Litigation Clinic. And six states are underprepared, said the study: Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. “Recent election history reminds us that equipment does fail and votes will be lost without key protections,” Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, said in a statement. “We’re dependent on complex electronic voting systems that must be surrounded by robust procedures to safeguard votes and verify results if we are to avoid known and unknown risks of election failure. Do-overs are never an acceptable part of an election plan. Fair elections are at the heart of our democracy, yet many states are not yet prepared to survive voting system failures that could change results.” With expected close elections in many of the unprepared states, voting errors could have a significant impact on the 2012 results.

National: Electoral College tie possible in Obama-Romney race | CNN.com

It’s the white whale of American elections: elusive, mythical and never realized. But could it finally happen this year? The likelihood that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will each net 269 electoral votes in November, instead of the 270 needed to win, is actually not so farfetched — and for close observers of the Electoral College system, a tie would set off a wave of constitutional and political mayhem that would make the 2000 Florida recount seem like a tidy affair. Election results in key states would immediately be subject to legal challenges. Electors, normally an anonymous batch of party insiders elected to ratify each state’s winner with their electoral votes, would be lobbied to change their votes by friends, neighbors and political leaders. Swing states could decide U.S. election Alex Castellanos’ electoral map James Carville’s electoral map Ultimately, the House of Representatives could elect the next president, even if that candidate lost the popular vote.

National: Overseas voting in 24 states vulnerable to hackers | Fox News

Few could forget the weekslong hubbub over vote-counting in Florida in 2000 that led to a recount, a Supreme Court ruling and a national debate about the veracity of the system by which voters cast their ballots. But 12 years later, the voting system is still far from fail-proof, according to a state-by-state report released Wednesday. Almost half of states use voting systems for overseas and military voters that could be susceptible to hackers, says the report by Rutgers Law School and two good-governance groups: Common Cause Education Fund and the Verified Voting Foundation. Dozens of states lack proper contingency plans, audit procedures or voting machines that produce backup paper records in case something goes wrong. Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina are least prepared to catch problems and protect voter enfranchisement, the study showed. Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin are in the best shape.

National: Will Voter ID Cost Obama the Election? | HispanicBusiness.com

With polls showing President Obama and Mitt Romney locked in a desperately close race for the presidency, will voter identification laws suppress the Democratic vote and cost Obama the election, or will they simply cut down on voter fraud as Republicans contend? What effect, if any, will the court challenges to state voter ID laws have on the laws’ impact, given the short window before the November balloting. What will the U.S. Supreme Court do and how quickly? By law the high court has to hear the appeals of the challenges. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder laid down the gauntlet for the administration in his speech to the NAACP annual convention in Houston July 10. “As many of you know, yesterday was the first day of trial in a case that the state of Texas filed against the Justice Department, under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, seeking approval of its proposed voter ID law. After close review, the department found that this law would be harmful to minority voters — and we rejected its implementation. “Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID — but student IDs would not,” Holder said. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them — and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them.” Holder said some recent studies show only 8 percent of white voting age citizens nationally lack a government-issued ID, while 25 percent of African-American voting age citizens lack one. “But let me be clear: We will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right,” Holder said.

National: Million-dollar donors account for nearly half of GOP super PAC fundraising | The Washington Post

If super PACs are indeed saving Mitt Romney early in the 2012 election (as we posited Tuesday morning), he’s got a lot of very wealthy people to thank for it. About four dozen donors and families have given at least $1 million to super PACs this election cycle, with three-quarters of them giving to the GOP. Combined, these four dozen donors have provided $130 million of the $308 million super PACs have raised this cycle (more than 40 percent) — a reflection of how much these outside groups are funded by extremely wealthy donors. And that goes double on the GOP side, where nearly half of the $228 million raised by super PACs has come from about three dozen million-dollar donors. Million-dollar donors have contributed $111 million out of $218 million raised by super PACs this election cycle, while million-dollar Democratic donors have contributed less than one-fourth, $19 million out of $80 million raised.

National: How a great-great-granny could settle the voter ID issue | Yahoo! News

State laws requiring identification cards for voters have raised big issues that will carry into fall election season, as three key rulings are expected at the same time the presidential election heats up. And in one case that has Supreme Court ramifications, it might be a great-great-grandmother’s testimony that could settle the voter ID issue in a key swing state. Viviette Applewhite, 93, is the lead plaintiff in the ACLU’s lawsuit in Pennsylvania, in a case that could have long-term implications for stricter voter ID laws. Currently, there are pitched battles in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Texas over photo IDs as a requirement to vote. The issue will get a lot of attention as state court rulings are issued later this summer in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. The Texas case was heard by the District of Columbia federal appeals court and a ruling there is also expected by Labor Day.

National: Lawyers Raking in Cash as Campaign Spending Hits Records | Bloomberg

Every four years, a new mix of politicians assembles to compete for the opportunity to run for president. While the candidates’ names and faces change, the lawyers stay the same. Attorney Michael Toner began his presidential-campaign legal career in 1996 working for Republican nominee Bob Dole. He worked for George W. Bush in 2000. In 2008, his first client was former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson before signing with party nominee Arizona Senator John McCain. Democrat Bob Bauer worked for former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign in 2000, his law partner represented Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in 2004, and Bauer landed then-Senator Barack Obama of Illinois in 2008. Republican Ben Ginsberg cut his teeth in 1996 working for then-California Governor Pete Wilson’s White House run before joining Bush in 2000 and 2004. Four years later, he landed a new client, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and he’s still representing him today.

National: Tech Startups Making Millions Off the Presidential Race | Bloomberg

Four years ago, Michael Beach was toiling inside the Republican National Committee, overseeing a voter-turnout operation that was overrun by President Barack Obama’s technology-driven grassroots army.
After the election, he and another former RNC aide, then both 28 years old, set out to start a high-tech political consulting company that is now an expanding 50-person operation with offices in Virginia and Boston. One recent morning, 14 job candidates filed into his fourth-floor office in Alexandria, Virginia, where a wiffle ball net is stowed in the lobby and a pirate flag hangs in the conference room. How many might he hire? “Fourteen, if we like them all,” he said. The rapid expansion of Targeted Victory showcases the rise of a new professional, political class: a core group of young technology experts who are shunning traditional campaign titles, starting companies and making millions off the most expensive presidential campaign in history. They are cutting a path similar to the one etched by television ad makers in the 1980s, with a dose of Silicon Valley and the dot-com boom’s edginess.

National: Voter ID Laws Bring Challenges in Several States | Wall Street Journal

Across the country, legal challenges are mounting to voter identification laws in several states, and the outcome of the November election could be hanging in the balance. A lawsuit is underway in Pennsylvania, where voters are challenging the state’s strict ID requirement; the state of Texas is suing the Obama administration over its move to block a voter ID law; a judge in Wisconsin barred enforcement of a voter ID rule this week; and in Florida, officials sued for access to a federal database of noncitizens in hopes of purging them from voter rolls, according to the New York Times.

National: Voting Rights Act Section 5 challenges reach Supreme Court | SCOTUSblog

Attorneys for challengers to the constitutionality of the 1965 voting rights law’s key provision for federal regulation of state and local election laws urged the Supreme Court on Friday to settle the issue in the next Term, starting October 1.  One new case arrived from the town of Kinston in North Carolina and a second came from Shelby County in Alabama.  The D.C. Circuit Court has upheld the provision at issue — Section 5 — although the Supreme Court itself three years ago raised significant questions about its validity. The Kinston case reached the Court this morning.  The petition is here, and the appendix (a large file) is here.  The Shelby County case was filed in early afternoon; the petition ishere, and the D.C. Circuit Court ruling in that case is here.   Not only has the time come to examine the constitutional questions the Court has raised, the Kinston petition argued, but the Justice Department’s “overzealous manner” of enforcement of Section 5 has put heavy new burdens on state and local governments covered by that provision.   The Shelby County petition argued that the renewed law puts states into “federal receivership,” raising “fundamental questions of state sovereignty,” while denying equality only to designated states – predominantly in the South.  Shelby County also assailed the Justice Department’s “needlessly aggressive exercise” of its veto powers over state and local election laws.

National: Voting Rights Act petitions reach Supreme Court | chicagotribune.com

Two legal challenges to the Voting Rights Act, a landmark law adopted in 1965 that barred racial discrimination in voting practices, reached the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. The appeals target a part of the law, known as pre-clearance, that says that states with a history of discrimination must get permission from the federal government before changing election procedures. The first challenge was filed by supporters of a 2008 Kinston, North Carolina, measure that would omit candidates’ party affiliations from ballots.