The Supreme Court has struck down a Montana ban on corporate political money, ruling 5 to 4 that the controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling applies to state and local elections. The court broke in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock along the same lines as in the original Citizens United case, when the court ruled that corporate money is speech and thus corporations can spend unlimited amounts on elections. “The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law,” the majority wrote. “There can be no serious doubt that it does.” No arguments were heard; it was a summary reversal. “To the extent that there was any doubt from the original Citizens United decision broadly applies to state and local laws, that doubt is now gone,” said Marc Elias, a Democratic campaign lawyer. “To whatever extent that door was open a crack, that door is now closed.” Read More
In a brief unsigned decision, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to have another look at its blockbuster 2010 campaign finance decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In a 5-to-4 vote, the majority summarily reversed a decision of the Montana Supreme Court that had refused to follow the Citizens United decision. “The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law,” the opinion said. “There can be no serious doubt that it does. Montana’s arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case.” The four members of the court’s liberal wing dissented in an opinion by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who said that Citizens United itself had been a mistake. Read More
Two justices on the five-member Alaska Supreme Court are saying the court blew it when it adopted its new electoral district maps for Southeast Alaska, and are criticizing their colleagues’ decision making process as well. Justice Daniel Winfree, joined by Justice Craig Stowers, this week released a written dissent to the court’s decision changing which maps would be used in this year’s election. The court returned on May 22 to the original April 5 map that included Petersburg in with Juneau, instead of the May 10 map that included Haines with Juneau and which would have placed two incumbent Republicans, Reps. Cathy Muñoz of Juneau and Bill Thomas of Haines in the same district. “It is now beyond doubt that the April 5 plan violates the Alaska Constitution, at least with respect to Southeast Alaska,” the two justices wrote in a dissent released this week to the court’s surprise decision On the prevailing side in that decision were Chief Justice Walter Carpeneti, Justice Dana Fabe and Senior Justice Warren Matthews filling a vacancy on the court. Read More
For years, county elections supervisor jobs were viewed as mundane administrative posts with so little public policy work that most politicians did not even consider running for them. Now, along Florida’s west coast, seasoned political players are looking to parlay their years of experience in partisan battles into an advantage in becoming elections overseers.
• In Sarasota County, three-term county commissioner Jon Thaxton, a Republican, is challenging supervisor Kathy Dent.
• In Manatee County, state Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton developer known for antagonizing Democrats in Tallahassee, is banking that his decade of name recognition will help him succeed retiring supervisor of elections Bob Sweat.
• In Charlotte County, former four-term county commissioner Adam Cummings is looking to unseat first-term incumbent Paul Stamoulis.
• In Hillsborough County, former state Rep. Rich Gloriso, a Republican, passed up an opportunity to run for the state Senate to instead run for supervisor of elections.
It’s part of a trend term limits created in Florida politics, said University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus. Limits on how long state legislators and local officials can serve have forced politicians to seek new avenues to remain in public office. Read More
The U.S. Supreme Court this morning upheld Maryland’s new Congressional map, clearing up one last legal question and affirming that the state’s prison population can be counted at their last known address. The new method of counting prisoners was adopted after Sen. Catherine Pugh, of Baltimore, successfully pushed legislation intended to boost population in the city. Previously prisoners were counted at their correctional institutions, a practice that critics said unfairly increased the population of prison towns. It was the first such law to pass in the country. Opponents of the plan said it disenfranchises those prisoners who do not have a last known address. Read More
Minnesota’s popular practice of registering voters at the polls on Election Day came under a sharp legal attack in federal court Friday from activists and a state legislator who argued that those ballots are cast and counted before the voters’ eligibility can be fully checked. As a result, said lawyer Erick Kaardal, it is impossible to “claw back” votes if people are determined later to have been disqualified due to felony conviction or a question over residency or citizenship. He asked a federal judge to step in and order major changes to Minnesota’s 38-year-old Election Day registration system, which attracted 542,257 voters in 2008 and is a factor in keeping the state at the top of the nation’s voter-turnout lists. “Just don’t stuff the ballots into the ballot machine before ineligible voters are excluded,” Kaardal told the courtroom. Read More
Waves of absentee ballot applications mailed out before November to all registered voters will cost local board of elections thousands of dollars, but will likely increase voter turnout. Last week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced applications will be mailed to every registered voter in the state in two batches leading up to the November presidential election. More than 7.7 million Ohioans were registered to vote for the March primary. The program could cost between $2 million and $3 million in postage, according to state officials. Local board of elections officials are in favor of the effort. “It is a good thing,” said Lynn Edward Kinkaid, Butler County Board of Elections director. “It is giving everyone more opportunities to vote.” Read More
Some Racine voters in the June 5 recall election did not sign poll books as required by law, Republican elections observers said Monday during the fifth day of Racine County’s election recount. But because it’s considered an administrative error, the votes will count, according to the Government Accountability Board. During the June 5 recall election, Republican Gov. Scott Walker overwhelmingly beat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat. But in Racine County’s 21st Senate District, former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, led incumbent state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, by 834 votes, according to canvass results. Following the election, Wanggaard requested a recount. But according to the GAB, which is recording recount results by ward, the numbers have not changed significantly. Results through Saturday show Wanggaard gained nine votes and Lehman gained one vote, bringing the difference to 826. And, according to the GAB, Monday’s findings will not change results. Read More
Republican recount observers are raising a red flag over votes cast by residents who registered on election day after pages of missing signatures from same-day voters have been discovered throughout the City of Racine. When someone registers to vote on the day of the election, poll workers take the completed registration form and create an entry in the poll book and then duplicate it in a second poll book. The voter is required to sign their entry in the same book other voters sign their entry in order to cast a ballot — and it’s those signatures that are missing in some wards in the June 5 recall election. It’s not known how many signatures are missing, but Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen said there are entire pages of missing signatures in wards throughout the city. While some of the missing signatures were found on pages other than where they should have been, it is unclear exactly how many have been discovered elsewhere. It’s also unknown why some signatures appear on pages separate from their entries on the poll books. Read More
Any desire to tweak the state’s existing recall law following this month’s historic gubernatorial election will likely have to wait until January; and even then, it’s a long shot that Republicans and Democrats will find an agreeable middle ground. The state’s recall process — utilized 15 times in less than a year — has become an unpopular political tool for a substantial portion of the electorate. Exit polls in the June 5 election found 60 percent of Wisconsin voters said they believed the mechanism should be reserved for malfeasance or criminal activity. Immediately following the election, which Gov. Scott Walker won easily, politicians from both sides expressed interest in addressing the law’s shortcomings. But in the past few weeks, strident lines have formed. Read More
The Federal Court is hearing preliminary motions today in the Council of Canadians’ bid to have the federal election results overturned in a handful of tightly contested ridings. The council has asked the court to review the May 2011 election results in seven ridings where Conservative MPs narrowly won their seats. The council alleges misleading or harassing phone calls in those ridings kept some people from voting and may have affected the outcomes. But the Conservative party claims the group is more concerned with attacking them and raising money than getting to the bottom of the so-called robocalls affair. Read More
The workers at the Marel factory are filling up their lunch trays with salads, sausages and pickled fish when the presidential candidate arrives, spouse and new baby in tow. The canteen has seen several such visits from some of the six hopefuls in the running for Iceland’s election on Sunday. Today’s guest is the frontrunner to unseat President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, 69, who has been in office for a record 16 years. Aged 37, and with a successful career as a broadcast journalist, Thora Arnorsdottir entered the race in March. She was then seven months pregnant. But she has led the polls ever since, even after taking weeks out of campaigning to give birth to her third child with partner Svavar Halldorsson, who now carries the baby at the back of the Marel canteen. Read More
Kuwait’s cabinet has resigned after protesters and opposition deputies demanded that the prime minister step down over allegations of corruption, state-run television has reported. “The prime minister [Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah] has submitted his resignation to the emir,” Kuwait TV said, without specifying whether it had been accepted. Earlier, opposition member Khaled al-Sultan said the cabinets’s resignation was accepted amid a bitter political dispute between the prime minister and opposition MPs. “We are waiting for the appointment of a new prime minister before parliament is dissolved in order to be assured of fair elections,” the Sultan told reporters outside parliament. Parliament speaker Jassem al-Khorafi said he had not been informed about a dissolution of parliament. Read More
Mongolians will vote on Thursday to elect a new parliament which will have the task of distributing the spoils of a mining boom that has brought rapid growth but also rising inequality to the resource-rich nation. Mongolia’s economy has exploded in recent years, as a relatively stable political environment has drawn in foreign investors keen to exploit its vast untapped reserves of coal, copper and gold. Foreign investment quadrupled last year to nearly $US5 billion, according to government data, but little of that has trickled down to the poorest of Mongolia’s 2.8 million people. The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party both say they want to ensure a fairer distribution of wealth in the vast and remote nation, although neither has given any detailed indication of how. Read More
It appears that President Elbegdorj has gotten his way and former President Enkhbayar will not be able to stand in the parliamentary elections this coming Thursday. Enkhbayar’s appeal to the Constitutional Court will not be heard until tomorrow, a mere two days before the election. At that point, the Constitutional Court will decide whether or not to even accept and review his petition. With the way things have been handled thus far, Enkhbayar will not be a candidate for his Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. One would think that corrupting the democratic process to this point would be enough, but the current Mongolian government has gone even further. The Sukhhbaatar District Court has ruled that Enkhbayar cannot leave the city until his trial thereby preventing him from campaigning for his party in the countryside, Elbegdorj’s homeland. Read More
Voters in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, go to the polls today in the national election which began in a volatile part of the Highlands at the weekend. Two of the most recognisable names in PNG politics are not on the ballot papers in the electorates they’ve held for many years: Australian born Dame Carol Kidu and former PNG Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, who are both retiring this year. The head of the Commonwealth election observer group in Papua New Guinea says election-related problems could lead to voter frustration. There have been reports of delays in opening polling stations, ballot boxes being destroyed and others being hijacked and stuffed with completed ballot papers. Read More
The federal government has sent a letter to Georgia officials saying the state’s schedule for runoff elections violates federal law on military and overseas absentee ballots and threatening a lawsuit if the matter isn’t resolved quickly. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez on June 15 sent the letter to Attorney General Sam Olens and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Olens’ office declined to comment on the letter, but Kemp said the state is in the middle of the primary election and doesn’t intend to make changes suggested by federal officials. Runoff elections are required in Georgia if no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote. Federal law requires that absentee ballot be sent to military and overseas residents at least 45 days before federal elections, including runoffs, the letter says. Read More