On 7 August, 1974, the result came through. The bill had passed both houses of Parliament and Australia’s two territories would each receive two seats in the Senate.
Nearly 48 years later, the first independent candidate from the ACT was elected to the Senate. Rugby union player turned politician David Pocock delivered his maiden speech to the Senate on Tuesday, 2 August.
Among other things, he argued for more “equitable representation”.
“Yes, we are a city of roundabouts and politicians,” he said. “But we’re also much more than that. We’re the nation’s capital. I want this to once again be a source of great pride. No longer are we a safe seat.”
From the beginning, it was thought the ACT’s presence in the Senate would only ever consist of one Liberal and one Labor candidate. Pocock’s win blew this out of the water.
So is it time the ACT received two more seats?
Gary Humphries sat in one of the seats for the Liberal Party between 2003 to 2013 and is now writing a thesis at the Australian National University (ANU) on the history of the ACT’s self-government. He says the ACT is “grossly under-represented” in the House of Representatives and the Senate when compared with the smaller populace of Tasmania, but over-represented when it comes to NSW.
The Australian Constitution designates 12 Senate seats to each of Australia’s states. The minimum number is six. But the debate is much larger than just popping in two more chairs.
Right from the start in 1973, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announced plans to give senators to the Northern Territory and the ACT.
The bill passed but it wasn’t happily ever after yet.
“It was challenged in the High Court by the Coalition which said the Federal Parliament had no power to legislate for Territory senators. But the High Court disagreed.”
And so the Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 (Cth) was locked in.
Mr Humphries says it has been assumed ever since that two senators are “about the right amount”.
“There was sort of unspoken acceptance that while the House might swing more towards one party than the other, Labor and Liberal would each hold an ACT Senate seat and it wouldn’t upset the balance too much,” he says.
“But it is possible, constitutionally, for the Parliament to enlarge Senate representation on the basis there has been some lag in representation for the territories.”
Two more senators for each of the territories would grow the number of seats from 76 to 80. But according to Section 24 of the Constitution, this would mean the House of Representatives would also need to grow from 152 to 160.
Commonly called the “nexus provision”, this states “the number of members of the House of Representatives must be twice the number of senators, or as near as practicable”. It was included to prevent the House becoming disproportionately larger than the Senate.
“That may be a bridge too far for the government,” Mr Humphries says.
But he says Pocock and the Labor Party stand to benefit.
“Pocock is almost guaranteed to win one of the four every time, while the Labor Party would see itself well placed to get two of those seats, with the other going to the Liberals or The Greens.”
Labor has held a seat since the first ACT Senate election in 1975, with a dynasty started by Susan Ryan, then Bob McMullan, Kate Lundy, Katy Gallagher, David Smith and now Katy Gallagher again. John Knight, Margaret Reid, Gary Humphries and Zed Seselja represented the Liberals over the same time period. At least until Pocock nudged out Seselja at the May 2022 election.
“The problem is their opponents may paint them as creating more politicians across the board which, of course, it is,” Mr Humphries says.
Overall, he says an increased number of senators certainly stands a good chance under the current government.
“It doesn’t need any special requirements, it just needs to be agreed on by both houses.”
WASHINGTON – Republicans have seized on the tax provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act to hammer Democrats, saying the bill would raise every Americans’ taxes.
The tax issue has become a favored Republican talking point, espoused by party candidates across the nation, including the heated contest in the 2nd congressional district between Republican Tyler Kistner and Rep. Angie Craig.
“Angie Craig plans to raise your taxes,” said a recent release from Kistner’s campaign.
Under the Inflation Reduction Act corporations with earnings of $1 billion or more would be required to pay a minimum tax of 15 percent on earning reported to shareholders on their financial statements, commonly known as book income.Kistner and other Republicans are right about the proposed increase on some large corporations, but in a limited way. And those attacking the tax provisions of the bill largely fail to mention measures in the Inflation Prevention Act aimed at reducing taxes and other costs to American families.
The Republicans have a point because any increase in the corporate tax rate, which would affect a company’s earning, is considered by most economists to be borne by the corporation’s workers, investors and customers.
“Corporations do not pay taxes, people do,” said V.V. Chari, University of Minnesota professor of economics.
Kistner and other Republicans have made much of an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation, a non-partisan congressional agency that analyses tax legislation. That analysis said the tax provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act would raises the average tax rate of Americans from 20.3 percent to 20.6 percent.
But most Americans would not experience a tax hike – the cost of that new corporate tax would be paid largely by the investors of a corporation who could see their dividends and the value of their holdings decrease and the corporation’s workers, whose wages and benefits could shrink.
The Inflation Reduction Act was approved by the U.S. Senate on Sunday on a strict party line vote, 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie breaker.
The U.S. House, now on it’s August recess, will return to Washington D.C. on Friday to vote on the massive bill, which would provide $370 billion in incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and extend expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years, at a cost of about $64 billion. The bill would also reduce prescription drug costs for the elderly and cap the cost of insulin for Medicare patients to $35 a month. A broader insulin cap on all insured was rejected, thanks largely to the votes of Senate Republicans.
But to pay for clean energy incentives and other provisions, the bill imposed new taxes, targeting corporations that were able to avoid paying any levies.
Chari said politicians “should be upfront” and say a corporate tax that trickles down to others “is for a good cause.”
Still most Minnesotans – and most Americans – will not lose any money under the new corporate tax.
In addition, the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said that by 2027, the bill would actually amount to a net tax cut each year, as new credits, including an expansion of premium subsidies for those who purchase health insurance through an Affordable Care Act exchange, and other incentives for low-emission energy sources outweigh the new minimum tax on certain large corporations.
Nevertheless, the Inflation Reduction Act continues to be called a tax hike bill.
“In 2009 President Obama said, ‘The last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.’ Yet here today, Democrats in Washington are planning on raising taxes on American families to fund a $700 billion dollar spending package that will in fact raise taxes on American families in the midst of a recession,” Kistner said in an emailed statement.
The Republican who is locked in a “toss-up” race with Craig also said this 700-page bill may very well include small bits of positive policy but at the end of the day that does not justify raising taxes on Minnesotans who are feeling the pain of skyrocketing inflation and a recession.”Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th, called the new corporate tax a “shell game” because it’s cost would be paid by American taxpayers.
“Everybody making $30,000 a year or more is going to pay more taxes,” he said Monday during a virtual event by the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee who requested the analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation, said “the Democrats’ approach to tax reform means increasing taxes on low- and middle-income Americans to fund their partisan Green New Deal.”
Craig shrugged off the attacks on Inflation Reduction Act.
“If billion-dollar companies have to pay taxes, it’s just leveling the playing field,” she said.
Craig also said “the bill overall is going to lower the cost for working families and reduce the deficit.”
A report by non-profit group Rewiring America said clean energy tax incentives in the bill would save the average American household $1,800 per year on energy bills.
The Joint Committee on Taxation’s analysis was completed before Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., forced change in the tax section of the bill to secure her support for the legislation.
The corporate alternative minimum tax was tweaked to help manufacturers by allowing them to continue to take accelerate depreciation of their assets. Another proposed tax, on hedge fund managers, was completely eliminated.
Hedge fund managers make most of their millions and billions of dollars in “carried interest,” a fee on the gains of the money they invest for other individuals and institutions. That earned interest is taxed at 15 percent as capital gains by the Internal Revenue Service. That tax rate is lower than the one most Americans pay the IRS. The Inflation Reduction Act sought to remedy that before Sinema insisted the provision be tossed.
To make up for the revenue lost by Sinema-driven changes to the tax section, a new 1 percent tax on company stock buybacks was added to the bill.
Companies buy back their stocks as a way to reward investors, whose shares usually increase in value. The company also benefits because their per-share measure of earnings increases.
Barron’s said 2022 is set to be a record year for U.S. company buybacks, with some $1.2 trillion forecast to be spent. Companies undertaking buybacks include Apple and Google owner Alphabet.
There is still time for disabled voters to ask candidates about their most pressing disability concerns. But time is running out, and it can be hard to know just what to ask.
It’s getting closer to the thick of the Midterm Election season. Many disabled voters and activists’ first instinct at times like this is look to Congressional races, and focus attention on major threats, opportunities and issues facing people with disabilities nationwide. But it’s also important to challenge people running for state and local office. An article here in June suggested five disability issues especially relevant to state and local election candidates, including:
Of course, this isn’t all. Here are five more questions disabled voters might want to ask the state and local candidates who are looking for their votes:
Precise official data is hard to find, and studies vary somewhat. But there is fairly broad agreement that “between one-third and one-half of total police killings” are people who have some kind of disability. The statistics are especially high for Black people with disabilities. Put another way, having a disability of some kind seems to make encounters with police riskier for disabled people than they are for non-disabled people. Put yet another way, contrary to what some people might naturally think, police do not seem to be extra careful, understanding, or gentle in their dealings with disabled people.
The most frequent offered solution is better training for police. Disability awareness training usually attempts to teach officers to recognize some behaviors as products of disabilities, rather than disobedience or threats. It also focuses on communication practices that take into account people who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, autistic, intellectually disabled, or mentally ill. This all has a certain surface-level logic to it. Surely training like this can help prevent tragic misunderstandings. And maybe they do. But while disability awareness training for police is probably necessary, it’s not sufficient.
It’s easy for candidates to endorse “more training” for police. But disabled voters may want to press for something deeper that includes more fundamental changes in police use of coercion and force, and real challenges to the implicit biases of racism and ableism that put disabled people’s lives at risk in the first place.
This is even more important now, with the new 988 mental health emergency line coming into service. That’s because the first response to a reported mental health crisis is often dispatching of police. And unfortunately, that still can set the wrong tone and escalate danger rather than prevent it. Candidates should at the very least have an understanding of this issue that goes beyond simplistic assumptions about police and disabled people, and beyond simplistic solutions.
This isn’t a new issue, but it’s still relevant in thousands of cities, towns, and villages all over the U.S. Accessibility in at least some government buildings has been required since well before the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in 1990. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was prompting government building access improvements as early as the late 1970s. And the Architectural Barriers Act first laid out mandated accessibility standards for federal buildings in 1968.
Despite impressive progress over the decades, many if not most municipalities still have barriers to remove in city halls, town offices, civic centers, schools, libraries, and parks and recreation facilities. And while funding for these improvements may come from a variety of sources, they are almost always the direct responsibility of local elected officials.
Accessibility improvements need to be a higher priority, which includes committing funds to them. It also requires vigilance, to make sure everyday maintenance and infrastructure work includes accessibility as an essential goal, not an afterthought. On the plus side for politicians, accessibility of local public facilities is one of the few tangible improvements for disabled people that local officials have the power to really deliver on. It’s the kind of promise they can actually keep.
Both the ADA and older educational equity laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandate a “free and appropriate public education” in “the most integrated setting.”
School board candidates especially must be asked about their perspective on education of students with disabilities. Do they tend to support inclusion, or defend continuation of separate programs, classrooms, and facilities for disabled students? Do they support funding of truly effective accommodations? Or, do they frequently question the value and necessity of helping individual disabled students — maybe while at the same time approving generous funds for football teams and athletic facilities?
Unfortunately, it can be fairly easy for candidates to hide or disguise more regressive or skeptical attitudes about the value of investing in disabled students, or the “appropriateness” of truly integrating them into school communities. That’s why it may actually help to ask less specific questions about candidates’ general philosophy of education and disability. Ask, “Will you support disabled students?” and nearly every candidate will answer “Yes,” Asking candidates to explain their overall philosophy of educating disabled students can produce far more interesting and informative answers.
Town, city, county, and regional governments do a lot of everyday maintenance and service work. But they also usually engage in more long-term “economic development” planning. These grand plans do more than renovate one street or building. They aim to transform entire communities. That makes them a unique opportunity to include disabled disabled voters and better accessibility in every facet of a community’s future ambitions.
Accessibility and disability justice needs to be core aspects of economic development plans from the beginning. And it needs to be about far more than mere compliance with disability rights laws. Economic development and infrastructure plans should strive to make communities truly usable, friendly, and fair to people with all types of disabilities. That means maximum access, freedom of movement, equal benefit, and affordability. It includes buildings, streets and sidewalks, transit services and facilities, and proximity to both essential services and to an area’s unique historical, leasure, and cultural institutions.
None of this is “special attention” to a tiny minority. This becomes obvious when considering both “the disabled” and the aging population, which experiences high rates of disability and a greater need for well-thought-out accessibility. Candidates who run on grand visions for the future should be asked, and asked again, how exactly they would ensure that the future of their communities is accessible.
While state and local governments have done much to help get their citizens through the Covid-19 pandemic — and gotten a lot of flack for their efforts too — they were also often the sectors of government most anxious and quick to drop safety measures. By and large, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses are at higher risk from Covid, and remain so even today. Each individual faces their own unique risk, and has their own take on what it means and what their governments should do about it. But disabled voters may still want to know whether local officials are aware of their ongoing higher risk, and what they would be willing to do to alleviate it.
What will aspiring city council members or county legislators do if Covid settles into a recurring but relatively minor problem, like seasonal flu? And what would they be willing to do if, (and probably when), there are more dangerous Covid variants and surges.
High risk disabled and chronically ill voters should not hesitate or feel too isolated to ask candidates if and when they would support mandates or voluntary recommendations — such as for masks or vaccines — to make communities safer for high risk residents, especially during surges. And candidates who prioritize petty freedoms or economic activity over certain citizens’ health should be required to explain themselves further, beyond the usual politically appealing slogans we have all come to recognize around Covid.
Finally, candidates for local office should not just be able to answer disability policy questions. They should also develop their own specific disability policy positions and proposals, relevant to the offices they seek. Above all, candidates should be able to answer the core question on disabled voters’ minds: “Why should disabled voters vote for you?”
A United States-based Nigerian-American professor, author, media scholar, newspaper columnist, blogger and activist, Farooq Kperogi, has projected that Nigeria’s Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, may emerge the next President by default owing to infractions by two major political parties.
In his weekly syndicated column on Saturday, Kperogi said he uncovered some “facts” from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showing that LP’s Obi may become Nigeria’s president in 2023 because the two leading presidential candidates – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively – have violated the Electoral Act 2022, which may cause them to be disqualified.
“Facts I have uncovered from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) show that Labour Party’s Peter Obi may become Nigeria’s president next year by default because Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, candidates for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively, have violated the Electoral Act 2022, which may cause them to be disqualified if Obi sues them.
“The Electoral Act 2022 requires political parties to notify INEC of their intent to conduct primary elections at least 21 days before the date of their convention. It also requires parties to submit their membership registers to it at least 30 days before their primary election. The APC didn’t meet the first requirement and the PDP failed the second requirement. The Labour Party met both,” Kperogi said.
He alluded to a number of official documents (correspondences from the political parties) obtained from an INEC insider showing that the APC didn’t notify INEC of its intent to conduct its primary election 21 days before its convention.
Section 82 of the Electoral Act 2022 says the penalty for this infraction is outright disqualification of the candidates of political parties.
Section 82 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022 says, “Every political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting which is convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the positions specified under this Act.”
Section 82 (5) then says, “Failure of a political party to notify the Commission as stated in subsection (1) shall render the convention, congress, conference, or meeting invalid.”
According to Kperogi, by implication, an invalid convention can’t produce a valid presidential candidate for an election.
“Now, let’s look at how the APC, the PDP, and the Labour Party fared in their observance of this requirement of the Electoral Act.
“Records at INEC show that the APC notified INEC of its intent to hold its convention on May 23, 2022 (before INEC granted it an unfair extension, which other parties also benefited from) and held its convention on June 8. That’s just 17 days’ notice, which falls short of the 21 days’ notice the Electoral Act 2022 requires.
“Based on its May 23 letter to INEC of its schedule of primaries, the APC’s June 8 primary election is invalid in the eye of the Electoral Act 2022, and Bola Tinubu may be disqualified if he’s sued.
“Unlike the APC, however, the PDP did give INEC more than 21 days’ notice prior to the conduct of its presidential primaries. It notified INEC of its intention to conduct its primary election on May 4 and conducted its primary election on May 28. That’s about 25 days’ notice, which puts it in the clear on this provision.
“The Labour Party, like the PDP, complied with the requirements of Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022. It notified INEC of its intent to conduct its primaries on March 9, 2022, and held its convention on May 30. That’s more than 80 days’ notice,” he pointed out.
On the issue of submission of party’s membership register to the Commission 30 days before congress, convention and primary election by any political party, Section 77 (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 mandates political parties to submit their membership registers to INEC at least 30 days before the conduct of their primary elections.
The law specifically says, “Every political party shall maintain a register of its members in both hard and soft copy.” Subsection 3 also says, “Each political party shall make such register available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses or convention.”
Kperogi noted that the penalty for failure to abide by this provision of the Electoral Act is exclusion from participation in elections of the candidates of the political parties that infract the provision.
Section 84 (13) Electoral Act 2022 says, “Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for that election shall not be included in that election for the particular position in issue.”
“Now, let’s see how the APC, the PDP, and the Labour Party fared in this provision of the Electoral Act.
The APC submitted its membership register to INEC on April 25 and conducted its primary election on June 8. That’s clearly more than 30 days. So, it’s in the clear here.
“But the PDP fell afoul of Section (3) of the Electoral Act 2022. Although an INEC document titled “Table of Submission by 18 Political Parties” shows that the PDP submitted its membership register to INEC on April 29, which would make it exactly 30 days since it conducted its convention on May 28, the PDP’s series of correspondence with INEC that an insider shared with me indicates that the party submitted its register in four installments, with the earliest being May 3. May 3 to May 28 is less than 30 days.
“The last correspondence the PDP had with INEC over its membership register is dated May 18. So, technically, the PDP didn’t turn in its complete membership register to INEC until May 18. The Electoral Act makes no provision for a bit-by-bit submission of membership register.
“The Labour Party abided by this provision of the Electoral Act. It submitted its membership register to INEC on April 25, which is more than 30 days before its convention, which was held on May 30,” Kperogi stated.
The university teacher, therefore, blamed INEC for failing to insist on the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 in that regard.
“Unfortunately, INEC erred in not notifying the APC and the PDP that their primary elections—and their candidates for election— were invalid because they flouted the Electoral Act. INEC erred even further by going ahead to publish the names of people who emerged from invalid primaries even when the Electoral Act mandates it to not include the names of candidates who run afoul of the Electoral Act,” Kperogi added.
He further alluded to the the relevant sections of the Electoral Act 2022 to buttress his point that INEC is complicit in the violation of the electoral law.
He cited Section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022 which says, “Every political party shall, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act, submit to the Commission, in the prescribed Forms, the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party.”
Also, Subsection 3 says, “The Commission shall, within seven days of receipt of the personal particulars of the candidates, publish same in the constituency where the candidate intends to contest the election.”
“As I have shown, the candidates for both the APC and the PDP did not emerge “from valid primaries” because they contravened significant provisions of the Electoral Act that rendered their elections void.
“Yet INEC went ahead to publish the particulars of candidates for president and the National Assembly on June 24.
“In other words, even INEC is in violation of the Electoral Act 2022, and this isn’t the first time it is. In its entanglements with the Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio senatorial nomination fraud, INEC also refused to exercise its power of rejection.
“Section 84 subsection 13 of the Electoral Act 2022 empowers INEC to write to political parties and alert them to the fact that the names they sent to it were inconsistent with the reports of the primary elections monitored by its staff. Had INEC done this, it would have obviated the need for litigation by candidates who have been shortchanged by their parties,” Kperogi stated.
•Declares BVAS, IVED, electronic transfer of elections’ results now legal
For the umpteenth time, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu yesterday assured Nigerians that the Commission has no preferred political party or candidates in the 2023 general elections.
He also reiterated that votes of Nigerians at the polls would count.
The INEC Chairman said this at the 4th Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture with the theme: “Electoral Act 2022: Imperatives for Political Parties and the 2023 General Elections,” that took place in Abuja.
The INEC chairman was represented by the chairman of the Board of the Electoral Institute, Prof. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, a national commissioner of INEC.
Yakubu said: “Once again, I wish to assure you that INEC has no preferred party or candidate. We shall only ensure that valid votes count and the winners are decided solely by the voters.”
He explained that as the 2023 general elections draws near, it was imperative for all stakeholders especially the political parties to note the major features introduced by the new Electoral Act 2022 and the possible implications of the changes on the upcoming elections. According to him, the happenings that accompanied the recent parties’ primaries attested to these.
The INEC chairman, said, “These changes include amongst others, the conduct of early party primaries by political parties, technological changes in the electoral process, the Commission’s power to review the decision of Returning Officer and over voting based on the number of accredited voters.
“These initiatives as contained in the law served as the bedrock for the reviewed Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 released by the Commission in 2022. This in turn dictated the review of the Manual for Election Officials, 2022.
“Let me draw your attention to the fact that the use of electronic devices such as Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED), INEC Results Viewing Portal (IRev) and other technological devices, are now legally allowed in the accreditation process for voters, collation of results and in the general conduct of elections.
“These changes include amongst others, the conduct of Early Party Primaries by Political parties, technological changes in the electoral process, the Commission’s power to Review the decision of Returning Officer and Over-voting based on the number of accredited voters.
“These initiatives as contained in the law served as the bedrock for the reviewed Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 released by the Commission on 24h 1 2022. This in turn dictated the review of the Manual for Election Officials, 2022.
“Please be assured that these innovations are intended to deepen the electoral process in our country and their optimal performance in the just concluded gubernatorial election in Ekiti and Osun States is an eloquent testimony to their electoral value. We shall only do more to consolidate their deployment in our election.”
Yakubu said the Prof. Abubakar Momoh memorial lecture was a platform established by the Commission to project the ideals of a social activist and an advocate of citizen’s involvement in elections and nation building.
In view of this, Yakubu said it was therefore befitting to ride on the platform for advocacy on the electoral legal framework that would drive the 2023 general elections.
He therefore warned that, “INEC will scrupulously apply the laws without fear of favour to ensure free, fair, credible, inclusive and transparent election come February, 2023. Please, I urge you all to listen attentively to our guest lecturer.”
In his lecture, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George, a legal practitioner and consultant said, “politics is not anarchy; it is not disorderliness; it must be punctuated by justice, fairness and orderliness.”
According to him, the Supreme Court had decided on several cases that political parties must obey their own constitutions, saying the court would not allow them to act arbitrarily or as they like.
Accordingly, he said, “The party primaries are conducted by the National Executive Committees of the parties, not the state chapters of the parties. Where INEC receives a report that a party did not conduct primaries, there is no way INEC can publish the list and personal particulars of whoever purportedly emerges from any so called party primaries.
“That is within the realm of the powers granted to the Commission under Section 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act. If a political party conducts a primary and a candidate emerges, but the party whose responsibility it is to upload the list of validly nominated candidates uploads the particulars of another person who did not participate in the primaries, INEC is not under any legal or constitutional obligation to publish such a name.
“Under section 29(3) of the Electoral Act the INEC is only obliged to publish the names and other personal particulars of candidates who emerged from valid party primaries.”
In the case of Yobe state, the quest lecturer said, “In relation to the party’s primary relating to the Senate President in Yobe State, there was a report that a party primary was conducted and somebody won the election. “But the party whose responsibility it is to submit the name of the validly nominated candidate submitted the name of another candidate and the Commission did not publish the name of any candidate in relation to that party primary.
“This is because if you look at Section 29(1) of the Electoral Act, it says that a political party shall submit the list of candidates it intends to sponsor who have emerged from valid party primaries.”
While on the case of Delta State, he said that the Commission monitored party primaries, a candidate emerged from that party’s primary, the political party submitted the name of a candidate they believed won the primary; one of the aspirants went to court and the court said, ‘no, you are the candidate, the PDP and INEC should do the needful and submit your name’.
“What INEC did was that having received the court order, INEC wrote to the PDP to comply with the judgment of the court and upload the name and particulars of the person the court said won the party primary. They have not done so. So, it is the responsibility of the party under S. 29, to do the needful.”
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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the House of Representatives in Ajeromi/Ifelodun federal constituency, Lagos State, Mr. Francis Bartholomew Chima, has asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to decline jurisdiction in a suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking his disqualification in the 2023 general election.
APC and his candidate, Mr. Paul Adeboye Kalejaiye, who is also vying for the same seat, have dragged Chima before the court, challenging his emergency as the PDP candidate in the coming general election on the ground that the party’s primary election, which produced him, was not in conformity with the Section 84(13) of the new Electoral Act.
APC and Kalejaiye in their suit marked: FHC/L/CS/1316/2022, filed by their counsel, Lawal Pedro (SAN), listed Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the PDP as Chima’s co-respondents.
Lawal, while moving his clients’ motion last Wednesday, urged the court for the following reliefs: ‘A declaration that by virtue of the provision of Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, the second respondent (PDP), when seeking to nominate a candidate to contest against the applicants in the 2023 general election for the Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency of Lagos State seat in the National Assembly, has an obligation to hold primary election for aspirants from its party to elect a candidate.
‘A declaration that by the virtue of the provisions of Section 84 (13) of the Electoral Act 2022, the nomination of the third respondent (Chima) as a candidate of the second respondent (PDP) to contest against the applicants in the 2023 general election for the Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency of Lagos State seat in the National Assembly is null and void, for failure of the second respondent to comply with the provisions of Sub Section 1 of Section 84 of the Act to conduct primary election for his nomination as a candidate.
‘A declaration that the second respondent has no valid candidate to contest against the applicants in the 2023 general election for the Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency in Lagos State seat in the National Assembly.
“A declaration that the third respondent (Chime) is not entitled and has no right to contest against the applicants in the 2023 general election for the Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency Lagos State seat in the National Assembly. And a declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 84(13) of the Electoral Act 2022, the first respondent (INEC) has a public duty and obligation not to include the name of the third respondent as a candidate of the second respondent to contest against the applicants the 2023 general election for the Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency of Lagos State seat in the National Assembly.
‘An order of perpetual injunction restraining the first respondent, its servants, agents and howsoever from recognising or including the name of the third respondent as a candidate to contest against the applicants in the 2023 general election for the Ajeromi Ifelodun federal constituency of Lagos State seat in the National Assembly.”
However, the PDP candidate, in his preliminary objections to the suit, filed and argued by his team of lawyers led by Mr. Emeka Ozoani and Professor Joseph Abugu, both SANs, asked the court to dismiss the suit for being frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of court process, as the same have been caught by the limitation of time within which to file pre-election matters under Section 285(9) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
The two senior lawyers, aside asking the court to dismiss the suit having been caught by statute of limitation, also asked the court to decline jurisdiction in entertaining it and to award a substantial cost of N10 million against the APC and Kalejaiye.
The PDP candidate in his affidavit in support of the preliminary objections stated that he was an aspirant in the INEC’s primary election scheduled for May 23 and 24, 2022, in the federal constituencies in Lagos State to select and nominate the first defendant’s candidate for the Ajeromi/Ifelodun federal constituency of Lagos State into the House of Representatives election in 2023.
He stated that upon his expression of interest to serve in the Federal House of Representations, he purchased, filled and submitted the requite Expression of Interest form as well as the nomination form issued by the INEC for the Ajeromi/ Ifelodun federal constituency. And he was duly screened by a panel constituted by the INEC and issued a Certificate of Provisional Clearance to contest in the primaries supervised by INEC, for the purpose of selecting the candidate for the constituency.
Chima stated that he duly completed and submitted to the first defendant, INEC, Form EC 13D: Nomination Form for member, House of Representatives. And that INEC scheduled three days-May 22, 23 and 24, 2022-for the conduct of all its primaries into the federal constituencies in Lagos State.
He stated that the said primaries election was supervised and closely monitored by the INEC’s national, state and local government officers, representatives of the Nigerian Police, Department of State Security (DSS) and the members of the press. And that the said primary election was held and conducted in a peaceful and serene environment devoid of any scintilla of rancor, conflict or violence. It was accordingly adjudged by all party faithful and the delegates to be the fairest and freest primary elections in Ajeromi/Ifelodun federal constituency of Lagos State in recent times.
In a 36-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Chima, the third respondent, he listed other candidates who participated in the primary as Dr. Oladipupo Diriwari, Hon. Rita Orji Odichi, and Mrs. Ezeude Emilia.
He averred that Orji voluntary withdrew from the primaries but nonetheless received some votes from the delegates, noting that even though the plaintiff’s name was in the ballot for the primaries, she had voluntarily withdrawn and was not present at the primaries even though her agents attended.
Chima stated that upon the count of recorded votes, he won the election with 22 votes as opposed to his three contenders who scored as follows: Dr. Diriwari (3 votes); Hon. Rita Orji (4 votes), and Mrs. Ezeude (3 votes), while one vote was voided. The result of the election as recorded in the first defendant’s result sheet with No. 0410 is attached and marked Exhibit EE1.
“I also rely on Certified True Copies of the INEC Monitors Checklist for the primaries as well as the Certified True Copy of the PDP Summary of Results for the primaries in the constituency, both here attached as Exhibits EE2 and EE3,” Chima stated.
Meanwhile, Ozoani, in his arguments before the court, submitted that his client was duly declared the winner of the primaries held on May 23, 2022, by the INEC’s national officers with the attestation of the PDP officers at the state and local government area levels.
He said sequel to his victory, the result of the primaries with his name as duly elected candidate was forwarded by the INEC to the PDP.
Ozoani added that the submission of his name by the PDP to the INEC was not an error but the result of a fairly won contest whereas the plaintiff lost the primaries.
According to him, “The PDP rightfully submitted his name and particulars to the INEC as the lawful winner of the primaries of the PDP held on May 23, 2022, into the Ajeromi/Ifelodun federal constituency of Lagos State.”
He further submitted that the only valid and subsisting primaries of the PDP in Ajeromi/Ifelodun federal constituency was the one held on May 23, 2022, wherein the third defendant won with an overwhelming majority, hence the INEC and PDP duly accepted that he was the candidate elected to contest the federal elections in 2023 from the Ajeromi/Ifelodun federal constituency.
(SitNews) - After months of bipartisan negotiations - led by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and colleagues on July 20th introduced two proposals which include legislation to reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President.
“Election security and integrity are issues that we can all get behind. The events that occurred on January 6, 2021 must never happen again. I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues on reforms to enhance election security and integrity, in order to ensure our elections are fair and safe,” said Senator Murkowski.
Murkowski said, “Our legislation gives more clarity to states and Congress on the electoral count process; clarifies that when the successful candidate for President and Vice President is not clear, that all candidates have equal access to information important to an orderly transition of power; provides improvements to cybersecurity testing for voting systems; and enhances penalties for individuals who threaten election workers - just to name a few. There is nothing more fundamental than the right to vote, so we are taking necessary steps to bolster the public’s trust in our elections.”
Quoting a news release, in developing the bills, the senators received input from state election officials, as well as from an ideologically diverse group of election experts and legal scholars, including the American Law Institute. Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) also provided helpful insight.
“Debates over the political ‘rules of the game’ can be fraught with suspicion and jockeying for advantage. When these rules change, there must be buy-in from both parties to maintain trust in the system,” said Matthew Weil, Executive Director of the Democracy Program at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Well said, “This bipartisan Senate framework is a critical step for shoring up ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act. These senators, especially Sens. Manchin and Collins, should be commended for finding common ground on a matter that is so foundational to our democracy: faith in the system that selects our leaders.”
“We are impressed with the draft Electoral Count Act reform legislation developed by a bipartisan Senate working group, including Senators Collins, Manchin, Romney, and Murphy,” said Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, co-chairs of the Presidential Reform Project.
Bauer and Goldsmith said, “Our work on these reform issues, which has included co-chairing a group of experts convened by the American Law Institute (ALI), has convinced us that major improvements in the current law are both urgent and achievable. We believe the legislation as proposed will help curtail threats to future presidential elections that would erode the foundational democratic principles of our country. It merits broad support.”
The first bill, the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, is co-sponsored by Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Sinema, Romney, Shaheen, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Capito, Cardin, Young, Coons, Sasse, and Graham. The bill includes the following provisions:
1) Electoral Count Reform Act. This section would reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President. It would replace ambiguous provisions of the 19th-century law with clear procedures that maintain appropriate state and federal roles in selecting the President and Vice President of the United States as set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Click HERE for a one-pager on the Electoral Count Act reform section.
2) Presidential Transition Improvement Act. This section would help to promote the orderly transfer of power by providing clear guidelines for when eligible candidates for President or Vice President may receive federal resources to support their transition into office. Click HERE for a one-pager on the presidential transition section.
In addition to Senators Collins, Manchin, and Murkowski, the senators involved in the bipartisan negotiations include: Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), , Mark Warner (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
The second bill, the Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act, is co-sponsored by Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Shaheen, Romney, Sinema, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Coons, and Cardin. The bill includes the following provisions:
1) Enhanced Penalties to Protect Our Elections Act. This section would double the penalty under federal law for individuals who threaten or intimidate election officials, poll watchers, voters, or candidates. Under current law, threats of violence or intimidation against these individuals are punishable by no more than one year in prison. This penalty would be raised to no more than two years in prison.
2) Postal Service Election Improvement Act. This section aims to Strengthen the handling of election mail by the U.S. Postal Service and provide guidance to states to Strengthen their mail-in ballot processes where permitted under state law.
3) Election Assistance Commission Reauthorization. This section would reauthorize the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for 5 years, and require the EAC to conduct cyber security testing as part of its testing and certification process for voting systems.
Established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the EAC is an independent agency that helps states Strengthen the administration and security of federal elections. The EAC administers grants to states and develops non-binding guidance and best practices for election officials in various areas, including cybersecurity, election audits, and voting accessibility. The authorization for the EAC, which is led by two Republican and two Democratic commissioners, expired in fiscal year 2005, although the agency has continued to receive annual appropriations for operations.
4) Election Records Protection Act. This section would clarify that current law requires electronic election records be preserved. It would also increase the existing maximum penalties for individuals who willfully steal, destroy, conceal, mutilate, or alter election records from $1,000 to $10,000 and from up to one year in prison to up to two years in prison. In addition, it would make it illegal to tamper with voting systems.
Edited By: Mary Kauffman, SitNews
Source of News:
Office of US Sen Lisa Murkowski
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Corporate contributions to three Republican political groups – Republican State Leadership Committee, Republican Attorneys General Association and the Republican Governors Association – have helped elect governors and attorneys general who challenged Roe v. Wade, as well as state legislatures that enacted laws restricting abortion access, according to a Center for Political Accountability analysis.
Corporate PACs of 15 companies contributed over $1.6 million to federal lawmakers who voted to turn down the Women’s Health Protection Act, OpenSecrets previously reported. That increased to $2 million based on candidate mid-year reports.
Those 15 companies were among those that publicly committed to covering travel expenses for employees requiring access to reproductive care ahead of or on the day of the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Through state PACs or directly, 12 of those 15 companies also donated over $648,000 to incumbent governors since 2019 – as several of their states considered and passed trigger laws – OpenSecrets’ analysis of state contributions data revealed.
Beneficiaries of these contributions included 23 current state governors, 12 of whom helped advance or pass laws restricting abortion rights in their states. Those sitting governors received a collective total of nearly $212,000 in 2022 from these company PACs, based on data available with OpenSecrets as of July 25.
Party-aligned 527s boosted by corporate giving
The Center for Political Accountability identified seven major companies that have publicly pledged support for employees to get access to abortion care but funneled money through third-party groups to governors, state attorneys general and the legislators who have supported laws restricting abortion rights.
Comcast is the biggest contributor, giving millions of dollars to the three 527s since 2018. Including the second quarter data for the current year, the total contribution amount is over $2.2 million.
Pfizer – which has not publicly made a statement about abortion rights but manufactures Plan B – gave nearly $3 million to the three groups.
All seven companies have a history of giving on both sides of the aisle with contributions to the three groups’ Democratic counterparts – Democratic Attorneys General Association, Democratic Governors Association and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
But Pfizer and Comcast continued to give more to the Republican groups in the second quarter. Over the same period, Pfizer contributed $2.7 million to the Democratic groups, and Comcast gave around $1.8 million.
Microsoft was the only company that showed a trend of contributing more to Democratic groups over time – more than $1 million, while $800,000 went to the Republican groups.
A spokesperson for Pfizer, Sharon Castillo, told OpenSecrets that the company’s decision to contribute to any candidate or committee is based on its support of the biopharmaceutical industry and on healthcare policies related to patient safety, efforts to combat counterfeit medicines and access to medicines or vaccines.
“In no way does our support translate into an endorsement of their position on any social issue, and is completely unrelated to the Supreme Court’s decision,” Castillo said.
Castillo added that she does not anticipate the SCOTUS ruling to have a dramatic impact on Pfizer’s approach.
The role of 527s
The days of companies engaging in business or political spending as usual are over, according to Bruce F. Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability.
“The contributions are in the six figures and have been made with corporate or treasury funds,” he said. “That means that top corporate executives bear responsibility for the decisions to give.”
Corporations are legally prohibited from giving directly to candidates in many states and subject to limits in several others. But there are no such limits on how much corporations can give to 527s at the state level.
“It is a way for corporations to indirectly exert political influence,” Jeanne Hanna, the center’s research director, told OpenSecrets.
Corporate PAC filings make it easier to tie the donor to the recipient, and are generally easy to track than contributions to political groups known as 527s — so named after a tax code section that governs their operations. These political groups can move money between several groups or even engage in independent expenditures, often making it difficult to trace from the donor to the ultimate recipient.
Contributing to 527s also allows resources of multiple companies to be pooled together to maximize impact, Freed told OpenSecrets, citing the Center for Political Accountability’s Conflicting Consequences Report.
GOP political groups' influence in the states
Money from companies can move through a few different hands before landing with the candidate, and that is where the 527s play the biggest role, Hanna told OpenSecrets.
All three Republican political groups have backed politicians who furthered legislation redistricting abortion rights, voting rights and LGBTQ rights, among other things.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, which describes itself as the “largest organization of Republican state leaders in the country,” has given over $30.2 million to Republican candidates in the last 20 years and around $192,000 for the current year.
In Missouri, a trigger law currently in effect prohibits and criminalizes abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. The Republican State Leadership Committee spent more than $47,000 for ads supporting Republicans in 37 House Districts in the state, according to the Center for Political Accountability. Thirty-one of those candidates won, and all them voted for the anti-abortion measure. The only exception was one lawmaker who was absent during the vote.
Georgia’s trigger ban, which recently came into effect after the Supreme Court ruling, bans abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The Republican State Leadership Committee poured more than $1 million toward political efforts supporting Republicans or opposing Democrats in Georgia. All of the 36 House Republicans who voted for the anti-abortion bill won in their respective districts.
In 2020, the group also spent around $2.8 million supporting seven lawmakers who co-sponsored the Texas law that was passed the following year. It too bans all abortions six weeks into pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest, and has narrow exemptions for when the mother’s health is at risk.
Other spending by the Republican State Leadership Committee include $104,000 collectively to four lawmakers who co-introduced Florida’s 15-week abortion ban and to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who ultimately signed it into law this year. Republicans in Arkansas – Reps. Howard Beaty Jr., Ben Gilmore and David Ray – who co-sponsored the near-total abortion ban in 2021, collectively received $14,000 in 2020. And state Sen. David Bullard (R), who was behind Oklahoma’s 2022 abortion ban, received $5,000 in 2018.
In the last 12 years, the Republican Attorneys General Association spent more than $15.3 million in support of Republican candidates for attorney general – with nearly $300,000 in 2022.
Following the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24, the Republican Attorneys General Association reached out to its supporters with an urgent plea for more donations. As reported by Rolling Stone, the plea read as – “[E]very donation will help Republican Attorneys General combat the Democrats’ pro-abortion agenda and stand tall for life.”
Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) in Indiana received over $1 million in contributions from the RAGA Action Fund federal PAC during his campaign in 2020. He called Roe’s overturn a “historic moment” and recently announced his intention to personally investigate a physician providing abortion medication to a 10-year-old rape victim in that state
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who defended the passing of the Texas trigger law, received $1.2 million directly from the Republican Attorneys General Association in 2018 and 2020. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) received $735,000 in 2018, and he actively enforced the Human Life Protection Act in Alabama with Roe’s overturn.
The Republican Attorneys General Association gave $44,000 to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) in 2018, the year he fought abortion providers’ federal lawsuit challenging restrictions to abortion access in the state. A federal judge blocked the provision that would have banned abortion, but Brnovich recently asked for a state court to lift the block.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R), who petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, received more than $226,000 from Republican Attorneys General Association’s Mississippi state PAC in 2019.
Risks of corporate political giving
Freed and Hanna pointed out how working for companies like Lyft and Uber could result in being targeted by bounty seeking laws of Texas. Both companies announced setting up legal defenses and paying for the drivers’ legal fees if they got sued for simply transporting passengers trying to get an abortion.
Lyft and Uber also contributed hefty amounts to the three Republican 527s. But second quarter data revealed more contributions to Democratic groups on behalf of both companies.
Lyft’s last contribution to the Republican Attorneys General Association was December 2020, and for the other two it was Sept. 2019. A company spokesperson confirmed this, but declined to comment further.
Uber did not respond to OpenSecrets’ request for comment. The company’s contributions to the Republican groups continued through at least March this year.
Pointing to Republican Attorneys General Association’s contributions to policymakers like Rokita who have been explicitly vocal about their stance on anti-abortion rights, Hanna said companies may not anticipate the risks that come with donating money in that way.
She emphasized that the companies may not even have the ability to know where their money was spent. “They only knew that they were donating to Republican Attorneys General Association or Republican Governors Association, and I think that Lyft might not be alone in suspending or or permanently halting this type of political funding – it does open them up to a lot of reputational risks,” she said.
“And the risks today have increased exponentially,” Freed added, reiterating his earlier point. “From what they (companies) are associated with through their spending, and also what it enables.”