As polling continues in Papua New Guinea’s general election, the Electoral Commissioner is under more pressure to resign. This followed a string of controversies early in the two-week polling schedule. Wild inconsistencies and flaws in the electoral roll, scheduling changes and delayed polling were already a bad way to start. The pressure then piled on the Commissioner, Patalias Gamato, after the sudden decision to defer polling in the capital from Tuesday to Friday. But then three electoral officials were detained for police questioning after they were found carrying marked ballot papers, suspicious documents and in one case US$57,000 in cash. A group of candidates from the capital have formed a petition urging Mr Gamato to stand down to restore integrity to the election.Full Article: Pressure grows on commissioner as PNG election continues | Radio New Zealand News.
Final results are in from last weekend’s election in Nauru. The ruling party won 16 of 18 seats in voting described by outside observers as free and fair, but, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific New Minute, opposition leaders disagree. President Baron Waqa was re-elected as parliament met yesterday for the first time since Saturday’s vote. His increased majority, the government said, promises more continuity and further stability. Nauru is one of the smallest countries on earth, with just eight thousand registered voters…but one of the more controversial. Once wealthy from mining the deposits left by seabirds, the impoverished island nation now relies heavily on income from Australian run camps that house asylum seekers intercepted at sea.Full Article: Pacific News Minute: Nauru Government Wins Increased Majority in Elections; Opposition Cries Foul | Hawaii Public Radio-HPR2.
In an unprecedented move in the history of Tamil Nadu”s electoral politics, the Election Commission of India (EC) on Saturday decided to rescind its poll notification in two constituencies following conclusive evidence of bribery of voters on a large scale. Quite shockingly, the EC has noted that bribing of voters continued in one of the constituencies after the postponement of polls in Aravakurichi constituency in Karur district and Thanjavur constituency, both in central Tamil Nadu, on charges of irregularities. Tamil Nadu went to polls on May 16 but polling in the two constituencies was deferred at the eleventh hour – first in Aravakurichi and then in Thanjavur. Originally the deferred polls were to take place on May 23 but the EC withheld its decision after the PMK and BJP”s candidates moved the Madras High Court seeking postponing of the elections.Full Article: Election Commission cancels polls to two Tamil Nadu seats - Free Press Journal.
National: Republican says delegate vote-buying and gifts are part of ‘the free market of politics’ | ABC
“Cash is on the table,” veteran Republican Marti Halverson says. “I don’t know why you’re so shocked.” This is not the response I was expecting — my mouth gaping. I had just finished asking Wyoming National committeewoman Mrs Halverson about the “wooing” of delegates to switch their vote in this very-likely-to-be-contested upcoming Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Ms Halverson is also opposed to any rule that would stop delegates accepting gifts. “This is a great country,” she said. “We give presents to our friends. No, I would not vote for a rule that said candidates cannot ‘woo’ delegates. I wouldn’t do that. It’s not the American way.” But what is the difference between wooing someone and buying their vote without cash? “Cash is on the table,” she replied. “Absolutely. It is going around that delegates are going to be offered free trips to Cleveland. Not Wyoming delegates, we haven’t heard that. But it is on the table. It is not illegal.”Full Article: US election: Republican says delegate vote-buying and gifts are part of 'the free market of politics' - US election 2016 - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
State Sen. Dean Kirby leases a vehicle, pays for auto insurance and gasoline, and buys Braves season tickets with money from his campaign account. He spends thousands a year on a campaign credit card, despite having no opponents for re-election for most of his 25 years in office. He says much of this spending is to cover expenses from serving as a lawmaker. But he also receives thousands of dollars a year from taxpayers for expenses. He received $19,440 last year to cover travel, food and other costs beyond the $23,575 considered salary for the part-time legislative job. Kirby lives in Pearl, just a short distance from the Capitol in Jackson. A Clarion-Ledger investigation shows that for many Mississippi politicians, campaign funds have become personal expense accounts or a second income — potentially tax free. The spending is largely paid for by lobbyists and special interests doing business with state government. They otherwise would not be allowed to lavish cash, gifts or a second income on politicians.Full Article: Elected officials use campaign funds for private gain.
Vote-buying and other misuses of campaign funds accounted for most violations of election rules during the second round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, according to various bodies responsible for observing the poll. Observers highlighted several types of infringement related to the use of political funds by candidates over the two-day voting period. These included the distribution of money bribes, food and drinks, posters and flyers, as well as the use of microbuses to advertise the candidates and transfer voters. Children were also seen wearing campaign t-shirts outside polling stations. Mohamed El-Shentnawy, manager of the parliamentary observatory mission led by the Maat foundation, told Daily News Egypt: “The candidates were well prepared for this round. They avoided repeating the mistakes of the first round, and used creative methods of bribery which resulted in the improved turnout of 17% in this round, compared with around 11% to 12% in the first round.”Full Article: Candidates used funds to buy votes: Election observers - Daily News Egypt.
Only weeks after giving up on his lackluster presidential campaign in the face of national indifference, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is back to making mischief in his home state. Last Friday, Mr. Walker signed a bill to protect public officials like himself from an effective and well-established tool for rooting out political corruption. The tool, known as the John Doe law, lets prosecutors conduct secret investigations into possible crimes by executing search warrants and compelling people to testify. It is essentially a grand jury proceeding, with a judge rather than jurors deciding whether there is enough evidence for an indictment. Mr. Walker has been a target of two John Doe investigations in recent years.Full Article: The Revenge of Scott Walker - The New York Times.
It seemed like a typical corruption case: A Florida doctor, seeking official favors with a United States senator, plies him with gifts while raising all the money he can for the senator’s campaign, and for his fellow senators and party. But the searing 68-page indictment of Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, filed this week by the Justice Department, does more than pull back the curtain on a politically and personally lucrative relationship between the senator and the doctor, Salomon E. Melgen. It is also the first significant campaign corruption case evolving out of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened up new channels for the wealthy to pour money into campaigns even as it narrowed the constitutional definition of political corruption and made it harder for prosecutors to prove bribery.Full Article: Robert Menendez Indictment Points to Corrupting Potential of Super PACs - NYTimes.com.
Here’s an old Chicago joke: A judge comes to a lawyer preparing to try a case. “The other side just gave me $10,000 to decide for them,” he says. “You have two choices: you can give me $20,000 to decide for you.” “What’s other choice?” the lawyer says. “Give me $10,000 and I’ll just decide based on the law.” A judge who actually tried this would be in trouble. Flat-out bribery is illegal. But very often the real scandal in a society is what is legal. What about a judge who says, “You might want to know that the other firm has contributed to my campaign fund”? Currently 39 out of the 50 states have a system of popular election for judges. All but nine of those states have laws providing that judges and judicial candidates “shall not personally solicit campaign funds, or solicit attorneys for publicly stated support.” They may establish campaign committees to raise funds; but the hey-given-me-money-lately sidebar is forbidden.Full Article: When Can a Judge Ask, 'Write Me a Check'? - The Atlantic.
A Bahraini group monitoring the country’s recent election claims some voters were bribed with cash to vote for certain candidates. Bahrain Dialogue Society vice-president Rashid Al Ghayeb called on authorities to investigated allegations it received from several voters relating to both the first and second rounds of voting. He said other alleged violations included election staff using their mobile phones rather than assisting voters, no provisions in some centres for veiled female voters and some candidates continuing to campaign during the 24-hour ban leading up to the election. “In some centres, our monitors saw voters indicating to the candidate they have voted for him,” Al Ghayeb was quoted as saying by Gulf Daily News.Full Article: Claims of bribery in Bahrain election - ArabianBusiness.com.
A guy running for head of a borough in Taipei gave me a sack of napkins even though I’m a foreigner without voting rights. Had I attended his rally in the park that day, I could have scored a free minced pork bun. Another candidate in the neighborhood gave away wooden back scratchers. These people are frugal. In the southern city Tainan, a candidate was passing out women’s cosmetic kits. News reports cite banquets, discounted air tickets and cash handouts. The potential booty is boundless with 19,762 people running for borough heads, city councils, mayoral posts and their county-level equivalents in most of Taiwan. It’s expected to grow next week in the final approach to elections Nov. 29. Vote-buying has long fit as snugly into Taiwan’s colorful, volatile politics as campaign banners and rallies. The China-friendly Nationalists and their opponents, who are less keen on tie-ups with old foe Beijing, need whatever they can get to win the island’s notoriously close elections.Full Article: Smartphones Vs. Politicians In Taiwan Vote Buying Game: See Who's Ahead.
India’s upcoming general election will be the largest democratic event in history, with more than 814 million people entitled to vote to decide the country’s 16th government. This, however, is not the only record that will be broken when the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls. According to the Centre for Media Studies, Indian politicians will spend as much as $4.9 billion during the electoral contest, which will end in May. The estimate makes this year’s general election the second most expensive of all time, behind only the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign in which, according to the U.S. presidential commission, $7 billion was spent. India’s electoral rules only allow candidates to spend $114,000 to contest parliamentary seats. With 543 seats available in India’s lower house, the total spent should amount to just below $62 million. But the actual costs of fighting an election are much higher, and a combination of fundraising (online and from the Indian diaspora), advertising costs and bribery contribute to the $4.9 billion estimate.Full Article: India’s Record-Breaking 2014 Elections | The Diplomat.
The Sri Lankan government is facing calls from both home and abroad to establish an independent electoral commission. In the wake of a Commonwealth report on elections in northern Sri Lanka, leading opposition parties joined a call by Commonwealth election observers for the island-nation to create such an impartial body. Opposition leaders say the government should re-instate the Sri Lankan constitution’s 17th Amendment, which provides for an independent electoral commission. Under the current 18th Amendment, President Mahinda Rajapaksa can appoint a commissioner of his choice, as well as to other positions such as chief justice. “Our party has repeatedly supported the 17th Amendment to the constitution, which makes way for the setting up of a number of independent commissions for elections, police, human rights, judicial services and bribery and corruption,” said R. Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party, whose candidate, C. V. Wigneswaran, swept the northern provincial council elections.Full Article: Sri Lanka opposition calls for independent electoral commission - khabarsouthasia.com.
There are enormous stakes for the country in the campaign finance case the Supreme Court agreed to review this week. If the Supreme Court strikes down the existing limits on the aggregate amount an individual can give to all federal candidates and all party committees in a two-year election cycle, the Justices will create a system of legalized bribery in Washington. Such a decision by the Court would be a gold mine for big donors interested in buying government decisions and would wreak havoc on the interests of ordinary Americans. McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the case to be considered by the Supreme Court, involves a challenge by Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee to the constitutionality of the federal aggregate contribution limits, upheld by the Supreme Court in 1976 in Buckley v. Valeo.Full Article: Fred Wertheimer Op-ed: "Supreme Court Could Create System of Legalized Bribery" | Democracy21Democracy21.
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday approved a draft of electoral reforms for effective legislation to curb rigging in the upcoming general elections and ensure transparency and credibility of the polls. The commission at its meeting approved to enhance monetary penalty for illegal and corrupt practices side by side enhancing the nomination fee for the candidates of National and Provincial Assemblies. “Draft reforms package will be sent to the Law division for proper legislation,” DG Elections Sher Afghan informed media representatives at a news conference. He said the commission also approved registration of 11 new political parties while elections symbols were allotted to 16 already registered parties including the party of renowned nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.Full Article: Election commission approves electoral reforms draft | Pakistan | DAWN.COM.
The Kremlin announced it signed a measure that amends a section of the Russian penal code, raising the penalty for election violations. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a document amending Russian law that governs “hindering fulfillment of electoral rights or the operation of election commissions.”Full Article: Russia raises fines for election fraud - UPI.com.
The media rewrites history every day, and in so doing it often impedes our understanding of the present. Mexico’s presidential election of a week ago is a case in point. Press reports tell us that Felipe Calderón, the outgoing president from the PAN (National Action Party) “won the 2006 election by a narrow margin.” But this is not quite true, and without knowing what actually happened in 2006, it is perhaps more difficult to understand the widespread skepticism of the Mexican people as to the results of the current election. The official results show Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Neto winning 38.2 percent of the vote, to 31.6 percent for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and 25.4 percent for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the PAN. It does not help that the current election has been marred by widespread reports of vote-buying.Full Article: Mark Weisbrot: Mexico Still Far From Fair Elections.
The media rewrites history every day, and in so doing, it often impedes our understanding of the present. Mexico’s presidential election of a week ago is a case in point. Press reports tell us that Felipe Calderón, the outgoing president from the PAN (National Action party), “won the 2006 election by a narrow margin”. But this is not quite true, and without knowing what actually happened in 2006, it is perhaps more difficult to understand the widespread skepticism of the Mexican people toward the results of the current election. The official results show Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto winning 38.2% of the vote, to 31.6% for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and 25.4% for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the PAN. It does not help that the current election has been marred by widespread reports of vote-buying. From the Washington Post: “‘It was neither a clean nor fair election,’ said Eduardo Huchim of the Civic Alliance, a Mexican watchdog group funded by the United Nations Development Program. “‘This was bribery on a vast scale,’ said Huchim, a former [Federal Electoral Institute] official. ‘It was perhaps the biggest operation of vote-buying and coercion in the country’s history.'”Full Article: Irregularities reveal Mexico's election far from fair | Mark Weisbrot | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.
The cult is accused of killing and eating seven people — five men and two women – whom they say practiced black magic in remote jungle territory around the coastal town of Madang. Police say they have arrested twenty-nine members, including a 13-year-old boy, but the leader, a local councillor, remain at large. The cult began as an attempt to curb extortion by self-proclaimed sorcerers who were demanding money from sick people. But the anti-witchcraft activists began to believe they had special powers to detect sorcerers. ”Sorcery was getting out of hand in the villages,” a local political activist told The Sydney Morning Herald. ”It used to be a good thing, but now it’s turned into a kind of cult. They killed [the first victim] on the roadside. They cut out his heart, they cut out his brains they drank his blood.”Full Article: Cannibal killers delay Papua New Guinea poll - Telegraph.
Staying out of the increasingly controversial use of the criminal law to police political campaign donations, the Supreme Court chose on Monday to leave undisturbed the convictions of an ex-governor and a campaign contributor who sought to test the issue anew. The action had no direct connection to the recent case of the failed criminal prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards, but that case has added to the legal controversy. … The Justices’ denial of review of cases involving former Alabama governor Don Eugene Siegelman and former Alabama hospital executive Richard M. Scrushy probably brings to an end their challenge to convictions over Scrushy’s contribution of $500,000 to the governor’s office to support a ballot measure for an education-funding lottery in the state. Prosecutors contended that the donation came in return for the governor’s decision to give Scrushy a continuing appointment to a state board that determined the number of health-care facilities operating in the state.Full Article: Campaign donations convictions stand : SCOTUSblog.