Nevada: Tempers flare at chaotic ‘sundown caucus’ |

A Republican caucus event timed to accommodate observant Jews who wouldn’t break Sabbath devolved into a fracas about religion and politics and made for a feisty conclusion to Nevada’s presidential nominating process. Hundreds of people crowded into the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin witnessed repeated clashes between local Republican party officials and would-be caucus-goers who resented being required to affirm their religious beliefs before being allowed to participate. The disputes overshadowed the intent of the caucus to choose a Republican nominee for president, especially since former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had already been declared the winner in Nevada before the evening event started.

Russia: Russians stage rival protests over Putin | Reuters

Tens of thousands of Russians defied bitter cold in Moscow on Saturday to demand fair elections in a march against Vladimir Putin’s 12-year rule, and supporters of the prime minister staged a rival rally drawing comparable numbers. Opposition protesters also organized smaller protests in other cities across the vast country, trying to maintain pressure on Putin one month before a March 4 presidential election he is expected to win. Their breath turning to white vapor clouds in the frigid Moscow air, tens of thousands of protesters marched within sight of the red-brick Kremlin walls and towers, chanting “Russia without Putin!” and “Give us back the elections!”

Congo: Top court declares Kabila president | ABC News

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Supreme Court has confirmed Joseph Kabila as the winner of a disputed November 28 presidential election, rejecting demands by the opposition for the vote to be annulled over fraud allegations. The court’s president, Jerome Kitoko, said Mr Kabila had won 48.95 per cent of the vote. “In consequence, Joseph Kabila is proclaimed president-elect of the republic with a simple majority,” he said at the justice ministry.

The court said the opposition had failed to provide proof of their allegations. Congo’s election commission last Friday declared Mr Kabila winner of the vote which observers said lacked credibility and was marred by irregularities and violence.

The opposition reacted immediately to the court’s decision saying they “totally rejected” the ruling. “The supreme court is just an instrument of Mr Kabila, just like the electoral commission,” said Alexis Mutanda, campaign president of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

Russia: Putin Hits Back at Opposition Protest in Vote-Fraud Standoff | Businessweek

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hit back at protests over alleged electoral fraud even as Russia’s biggest street demonstrations in a decade threaten to complicate his bid to return to the Kremlin next year.

While Putin pledged to bolster transparency during March’s presidential vote, he rejected accusations of fraud at Dec. 4 parliamentary elections and said foreign funding was helping fuel protests organized by his foes to “destabilize” Russia. He spoke in a 4 1/2-hour phone-in show on television yesterday.

Putin, 59, is facing the biggest unrest since he came to power. Opposition groups got permission this week to stage a demonstration in Moscow on Dec. 24 for as many as 50,000 people, twice the size of the crowd estimated by police at a similar rally Dec. 10. The protests may force Putin into a run-off for the Kremlin if he can’t win more than 50 percent support.

Congo: President Nears Election Victory |

President Joseph Kabila on Thursday was poised to claim victory in an election marred by delays, fraud allegations and violence. With 90% of ballots counted, Mr. Kabila had 48% of the vote, while his closest challenger, opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, had 34%, Congo’s independent election commission said, with full results expected on Friday.

Mr. Tshisekedi, a former prime minister, has rejected partial tallies released this week showing him trailing Mr. Kabila. His defiance has sparked street protests by his supporters in Congo and even European capitals. On Thursday, sporadic clashes between protesters and police broke out in the capital, Kinshasa. Supporters of Mr. Tshisekedi accused police of opening fire in front of the candidate’s home, wounding several people. Attempts to reach Mr. Kabila and the police were unsuccessful.

Despite poor management and fraud allegations by the opposition, the international community has been restrained in its criticism of the vote amid concerns that wider unrest could erupt in the war-ravaged country.

Russia: As Relations With U.S. Worsen, Putin Accuses Clinton of Instigating Protests |

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday of inciting unrest in Russia, as he grappled with the prospect of large-scale political protest for the first time in his more than decade-long rule. In a rare personal accusation, Mr. Putin said Ms. Clinton had sent “a signal” to “some actors in our country” after Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which have been condemned as fraudulent by both international and Russian observers. Anger over the elections prompted a demonstration in which thousands chanted “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” a development which has deeply unnerved the Kremlin.

Speaking to political allies as he announced the formation of his presidential campaign, Mr. Putin said hundreds of millions in “foreign money” was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Ms. Clinton herself had spurred protesters to action. The comments seemed to mark an end to the Obama administration’s sputtering effort to “reset” the relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

“I looked at the first reaction of our U.S. partners,” Mr. Putin said. “The first thing that the secretary of state did was say that they were not honest and not fair, but she had not even yet received the material from the observers.She set the tone for some actors in our country and gave them a signal,” Mr. Putin continued. “They heard the signal, and with the support of the U.S. State Department, began active work.”

Russia: An insider’s account of vote rigging for Putin | The Associated Press

The election official had a problem. Workers at his polling station had been stuffing ballot boxes with votes for Vladimir Putin’s party all day, he says, but when the votes were counted United Russia still didn’t have enough. So he huddled with the election commission he chaired at the Moscow precinct. The decision: Putin’s party would get the desired 65 percent. One member objected, but relented when the others tossed his Communist Party a few dozen votes.

The commission chairman spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job. He also said he could be punished for disobeying orders to report any contact with foreign observers or journalists to the FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

His account closely matches reports by independent observers of rampant vote-rigging during Sunday’s election, in which United Russia maintained its majority in parliament. Amateur videos posted on the Internet also appeared to show falsified ballots spilling out of boxes at polling stations.

Russia: Blow for Putin in election results | ABC News

Parliamentary elections in Russia appear to have delivered a setback to Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party, in a vote the opposition says was tainted by fraud. United Russia suffered a big drop in support in a parliamentary election as voters signalled their growing unease with Mr Putin’s domination of Russian politics before a planned return to the presidency next year.

Exit polls suggested United Russia would win between 45.5 and 48.5 per cent of the votes in the election to the lower house of parliament, the Duma, compared with 64.3 per cent in 2007, and that it could struggle even to hold on to a majority in the chamber. The vote was widely seen as a test of Mr Putin’s personal authority after signs that Russians have started to tire of his tough-guy image.

“Russia has a new political reality even if they rewrite everything,” said Sergei Obukhov, a parliamentary deputy of the Communist Party, which made considerable gains, its vote almost doubling to around 20 per cent, according to the exit poll. A United Russia leader, Boris Gryzlov, looked stunned when he addressed reporters after voting ended but claimed victory. “We are watching and hope that we shall get a majority of the mandate in the State Duma,” he said. “We can say that United Russia remains the ruling party.”

Congo: Election commission says President Joseph Kabila leads in early vote results | The Washington Post

Congo’s president, seeking a second term in a nation reeling from poverty and pummeled by war, was leading Saturday in early results, but his opponents insisted he step aside and accused him of trying to engineer “carnage.” President Joseph Kabila had 50.3 percent of the vote in early results from an election marred by technical problems and accusations of favoritism. Analysts had predicted he would likely win because the opposition candidates are splitting the vote.

In a show of unity, the 10 opposition parties held a press conference and accused Kabila of attempting to engineer a situation like Kenya, Zimbabwe or the Ivory Coast, all countries where rulers used the army to try to silence dissent and cling to power after losing at the polls.

“I think that Joseph Kabila could go down in history … if he were to say, ‘I’m a good sport and I lost,’” said opposition candidate Vital Kamerhe, a former speaker of Parliament. “He is preparing a carnage.”

Russia: Official: poll violations real and imaginary — RT

A top official of the Central Election Commission has admitted that some of the violations reported by vigilant citizens actually took place, but said that in most cases the suspicions proved to be unfounded. The deputy head of the Central Election Commission, Leonid Ivlev, told reporters on Sunday evening that the reports about violations on parliamentary elections were partially confirmed. He named invisible ink, illegal propaganda, and the so called “merry-go-round” – false voting by a group of specially prepared people.

The official said that the invisible ink trick was disclosed in time so the violation did not even happen and so it was more correct to talk of attempted violation. As for the “merry-go-round”, the deputy head of the commission said that the reports were tremendously exaggerated. For example, some observers accused their opponents of bringing 50 cars with 400 people to one polling station with the intent of affecting the vote. Such an action was hardly imaginable and had not been confirmed, Ivlev said.

He also said that many reports simply showed a lack of understanding of the election procedure. One of the party representatives was accused of keeping a copy of the Constitution on his working desk during the elections and one man said he had noticed a sticker on the passport of one of the voters and suggested that this was a special sign allowing him to vote many times under some secret agreement. “Colleagues, I have a sticker on my passport myself as I need it to distinguish between my internal and foreign passports. Where is the violation here?” At the same time, the official stressed that all reports of violations will be thoroughly checked with participation of police and prosecutors.

Russia: Voters deal Putin and party an election blow | Reuters

Russian voters dealt Vladimir Putin’s ruling party a heavy blow on Sunday by cutting its parliamentary majority in an election that showed growing unease with his domination of the country as he prepares to reclaim the presidency. Incomplete results showed Putin’s United Russia was struggling even to win 50 percent of the votes, compared with more than 64 percent four years ago. Opposition parties said even that outcome had been inflated by fraud.

Although Putin is still likely to win a presidential election in March, Sunday’s result could dent the authority of the man who has ruled for almost 12 years with a mixture of hardline security policies, political acumen and showmanship but was booed and jeered after a martial arts bout last month.

United Russia had 49.6 percent of the votes after results were counted in 51 percent of voting districts for the election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. Two exit polls had earlier put it on 45.5 and 48.5 percent. “These elections are unprecedented because they were carried out against the background of a collapse in trust in Putin, (President Dmitry) Medvedev and the ruling party,” said Vladimir Ryzhkov, a liberal opposition leader barred from running.

Maryland: Robocall Trial Gives Rare Glimpse Behind Slimy, Election-Day Tactic | NPR

An interesting political trial got under way Tuesday in Baltimore. It involves robocalls made during the 2010 rematch between former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, and the Democratic incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The calls were made Election Day afternoon by consultants working for the Ehrlich campaign and went to about 110,000 Democratic voters. The voters were told to “relax,” that “O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. The polls were correct, and we took it back.” The caller, never identified, went on to say that “the only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”

Philippines: Comelec, DOJ to resume probe on vote rigging in 2004 polls | The Philippine Star

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) joint panel will resume its investigation and find necessary evidence to pin down other personalities involved in rigging the results of the 2004 presidential elections.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes yesterday said the poll body and the DOJ will continue with the inquiry into the electoral fraud. “Tuloy-tuloy na ito dahil walang temporary restraining order. Lilipat na kami sa 2004 (The investigation will proceed since there is no TRO. We will shift now to the 2004 polls),” he said.

Liberia: Incumbent president wins run-off: preliminary results |

Liberian incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had won the run-off election, according to the preliminary results announced by the National Election Commission on Thursday afternoon.

According to the results, Johnson-Sirleaf from the ruling Unity Party got 513,320 votes, which constitutes 90.8 percent of the total votes. Her rival Winston Tubman from the opposition party Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), got 52,071 votes, which constitutes 9.2 percent. With 4,457 polling places across the country, 3,859 have been counted and tallied. The turnout of the run-off is 37.4 percent.

Liberia: Liberians vote despite Tubman-Weah protests | BBC News

Liberians are voting in the presidential run-off despite at least one death during opposition protests and a boycott over fraud claims. Opposition candidate Winston Tubman said he was pulling out of the vote, but the election commission urged Liberians to cast their ballots. Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, is now the only candidate.

A BBC reporter says turnout seems much lower than in the first round. The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in central Monrovia says at the polling station where he was when voting began, just eight people were waiting to cast their ballots, compared to hundreds last month.

Maine: History of ‘same-day’ voter registration in Maine | Bangor Daily News

Maine’s Election Day voter registration law was born quietly with bipartisan support nearly four decades ago, with little debate and overshadowed by much bigger issues of the Watergate era. That’s in contrast to that law’s demise in June, which was marked by shrill partisan debate that set the stage for next Tuesday’s referendum to restore what’s become known as “same-day” registration.

The 1973 session, which turned out to be one of the longest at that time, featured high-profile issues such as the Equal Rights Amendment, property tax relief, abortion rights, reporters’ right to protect sources and even health insurance reform. Same-day registration surfaced silently in the background as part of a routine revamping of the state’s election laws. Debate on the House floor was dry and tame with no hint of partisan differences in the Republican-controlled Legislature, the legislative record shows. The focus was on arcane technicalities rather than the merits of the policy.

Liberia: Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Monrovia protest turns deadly | BBC News

At least one person has died after shots were reportedly fired during an opposition protest in Monrovia ahead of Liberia’s presidential run-off. A BBC reporter saw the body of a young man who had been shot in the head.

Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Winston Tubman has pulled out of Tuesday’s vote, alleging fraud. Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, is running for another term. She was first elected after Liberia’s first post-war election in 2005.

Nicaragua: Opposition candidate calls Ortega win ‘fraud’ | BBC News

The opposition candidate in Sunday’s presidential poll in Nicaragua has rejected the victory of the incumbent President, Daniel Ortega. Fabio Gadea said he could not accept the results presented by the electoral council because “they did not reflect the people’s wishes”.

With 85.8% of the ballots counted, the electoral authorities announced that Daniel Ortega had won with 62.65% of the votes. They said Mr Gadea got 31% of the vote. After announcing the latest figures, president of the Electoral Council Roberto Rivas congratulated Daniel Ortega, because “the trends shown by the results could not be reversed”.