Editorial: Conservative Supreme Court justices are threatening a post-election coup | Laurence H. Tribe and Steven V. Mazie/The Boston Globe

After handing down orders in a spate of challenges to states’ efforts to make voting easier during the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court is catching its breath. But the pause may be short-lived. In several opinions that conservative justices have issued over the past week, a radical idea is rising from the ashes, resurrecting language from one of the most fraught decisions in the court’s history. Four justices — Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas — have resuscitated a half-baked theory three justices espoused in Bush v. Gore to let Republicans trash ballots after Election Day. Chief Justice John Roberts has not joined his four colleagues in this misadventure. But if the recently seated Justice Amy Coney Barrett sides with the quartet, America could be in for a battle that makes Bush v. Gore look tame. By shutting down a recount in Florida that could have put Al Gore over the top in the 2000 election, the Supreme Court effectively handed George W. Bush the keys to the White House. The majority reasoned that disparate methods for interpreting the infamous “hanging chads” on Florida’s punch-ballots denied the state’s voters the equal protection of the laws, violating the 14th Amendment.

Full Article: Conservative Supreme Court justices are threatening a post-election coup – The Boston Globe

Editorial: The absurd legal theory conservative judges are using to restrict voting | Neal Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer/The Washington Post

A novel legal theory is surging among conservative judges and justices. The notion is that, under the Constitution, only state legislatures — without any input from state executives or courts — may set the rules for presidential elections. This theory is clearly a misunderstanding of constitutional election law. But it’s actually worse than that: It fundamentally misapprehends how law itself functions. To imagine that the work of legislatures can be wholly isolated from the work of other parts of our government is a fantasy untethered from an inescapable feature of the American legal system: Law represents an interplay between legislators and those who must interpret and implement their handiwork, including judges and executive branch officials. Here’s what everyone agrees on: Article II of the Constitution says that “[e]ach State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct,” that state’s representatives to the electoral college, which chooses the president. No one disputes the basic reality that state legislatures typically take the lead in setting rules for the statewide elections that choose electors who, in turn, choose a president. But in the past couple of weeks, the focus on two words in that constitutional text — “the Legislature” — has been taken to fanatical extremes. Most recent — and most absurd — is a decision on Thursday by a federal court of appeals that, five days before Election Day (too late for the state to do anything to respond to it), abruptly changed the rule for Minnesota voters from a requirement that their mail-in ballots be sent by Election Day to a requirement that those ballots be received by Election Day, thus unsettling at the last moment both the law and voters’ expectations.

Full Article: The Minnesota voting ruling relies on an absurd conservative legal theory – The Washington Post

National: Who Owns Our Voting Machines? | Sue Halpern/The New York Review of Books

Buried in a dense government report from 1975 is an observation that has come to haunt the American system of voting. “Effective Use of Computing Technology in Vote-Tallying,” a hundred-page compendium of all that can go wrong when digital technology is used to register and count votes, was written by Roy Saltman, a computer scientist, at the behest of the National Bureau of Standards. At the time, computerized election technology was a shiny new thing, primed to replace time-honored manual ways of voting. But as Saltman observed, because this technology was beyond the comprehension of most election officials, they had little choice but to put their trust in, and cede authority to, equipment manufacturers. As a consequence, he wrote, “when vendors assume more responsibility than they should, due to the jurisdictions’ lack of in-house capability, situations may be created in which conflict of interest is a serious concern.” This is still true. The ever-increasing sophistication of digital election technology has left election officials ever more reliant on the vendors (and under the sway of their lobbyists), who play an outsized and largely hidden part in both the administration of elections and the ways we exercise our most fundamental right as citizens in a democracy.

Full Article: Who Owns Our Voting Machines? | by Sue Halpern | The New York Review of Books

We have to guard against foreign election meddling — real and imagined | The Washington Post

One week away from the 2020 presidential election, the United States finds itself in almost the opposite predicament from four years ago: Far from ignoring foreign interference, we’re in danger of imagining more of it than exists — and that in itself could cause big problems. Adversaries from Russia to China to Iran are indeed assailing our democracy, a reality that should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention — but the good news is that this time, our government is paying attention. Influence operations on social media sites are getting caught before they can gain much ground. What the hack-and-leak experts have dreaded so far hasn’t happened; even if investigators do find a link between the Kremlin and the dubious Hunter Biden laptop story published by the New York Post, the tale hasn’t caught on because cautious mainstream media organizations haven’t let it and many American voters have grown warier. President Trump has refused even to acknowledge what happened last time around, yet that hasn’t stopped top security agencies from taking action. The Treasury Department has sanctioned multiple individuals who have attempted to meddle, including Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach for acting as a Russian agent to launder disinformation through U.S. sources discrediting former vice president Joe Biden; this step, in turn, empowered platforms like Google and Facebook to kick the criminals off their sites. The State Department has revoked the visas of similar actors. U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are preemptively keeping malicious botnets off the Web to prevent ransomware attacks and other nefariousness on Nov. 3.

Full Article: Opinion | We have to guard against foreign election meddling — real and imagined – The Washington Post

Editorial: Kavanaugh has wild ideas about voting. They likely won’t matter on Election Day. | Richard L. Hasen/The Washington Post

Should we panic about Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion in the Wisconsin voting case that the Supreme Court decided Monday night? Does it mean that the Supreme Court is going to do something crazy that will hand the election to President Trump even if Joe Biden is ahead in the count?The short answer is that an intervention by the Supreme Court to decide the presidential election is still extremely unlikely — but if the extremely unlikely happens, there’s great reason to be worried about the court’s protection of voting rights and the integrity of the vote.As I have been watching all the election litigation as it works its way up and down the courts, I did not expect the Wisconsin ruling to be a major one. The Supreme Court had sent a consistent signal before deciding this case that federal courts should not be easing voting rules even during the pandemic and that there should be deference to state rules. A federal-district court had extended the deadline for the receipt of absentee ballots in Wisconsin because of delays in delivering mail during the pandemic, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, following the Supreme Court’s lead, reversed that order. Democrats and voting rights groups, inexplicably thinking they would do better before the voter-hostile Supreme Court, took the case up and lost Monday night.

Full Article: Brett Kavanaugh’s opinion on voting rights doesn’t mean the Supreme Court will swing the election to Trump – The Washington Post

‘Just like propaganda’: the three men enabling Trump’s voter fraud lies | Sam Levine and Spenser Mestel/The Guardian

One night in late February 2017, Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative thinktank in Washington DC, fired off an email.The White House was creating a commission to investigate voter fraud, an issue von Spakovsky had long pursued. But he was concerned the Trump administration was considering Democrats and moderate Republicans for the panel, and “astonished” no one had bothered to consult with him or J Christian Adams, a friend and fellow conservative lawyer.

“There are only a handful of real experts on the conservative side on this issue and not a single one of them (including Christian and me) have been called other than Kris Kobach, secretary of state of Kansas. And we are told that some consider him too ‘controversial’ to be on the commission,” he wrote. “If they are picking mainstream Republican officials and/or academics to man this commission it will be an abject failure because there aren’t any that know anything about this or who have paid any attention to this issue over the years.”

The email eventually made its way to Jeff Sessions, then US attorney general. A few months later, Kobach, von Spakovsky and Adams were appointed to Donald Trump’s commission.

It seemed inevitable. For years, all three men had used their positions both inside and outside of government to peddle the myth that American elections are vulnerable to fraud. Though this idea has been debunked repeatedly, and despite the ultimate failure of Trump’s commission, these men continued to promote the idea that widespread voter fraud justified stricter voting regulations.

“We’ve seen this going on for the last few decades,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor and election expert at the University of California, Irvine. “These ideas have moved from the fringes to the center of many Republican arguments about reasons for making it harder to vote.”

Editorial: Actually, Americans Do Want to Wear Masks to Vote | Joshua A. Douglas and ichael A. Zilis/Politico

Over the next couple of weeks, as around 60 million Americans arrive at polling places to cast their ballots, they’ll face an array of safety protocols to protect them from the risk of Covid-19. Most states will require them to stand at least 6 feet apart and observe social-distancing requirements. And most will require masks for both poll workers and voters.But not all. With the mask and other pandemic safety measures remaining a political issue, several states have explicitly said masks aren’t required, or are leaving the rules loose.South Carolina’s rules on masks in public explicitly exclude voters and election workers. Texas’ attorney general recently reminded voters that the state’s mask mandate does not apply while voting. (In its July primary, some poll workers in Texas left when their fellow poll workers refused to wear a mask.) Indiana will provide face masks to poll workers and voters who do not have them, but it is not clear how much pressure there will be to ensure that everyone complies. Indeed, one Indiana official in charge of local elections is refusing to wear one during early voting. Alabama will allow anyone to switch to an absentee ballot by citing Covid-19 concerns—but will not require either poll workers or voters to wear a mask.

Editorial: The 2020 election could permanently change how America votes | Patrick Howell O’Neill/MIT Technology Review

More than 29 million voters have already cast their ballots in the 2020 US elections, and we’re still more than two weeks from Election Day itself. At the same point in 2016, the number of early votes was about 6 million. But while a great deal of this is the result of the ongoing (and worsening) covid-19 crisis, America’s top election official says that the shift to early and mail-in voting could be permanent—even when the pandemic is over.“One of the things that we’ve consistently seen over time is that as more Americans get exposed to convenience voting options like early voting and vote by mail, the more they like it and the more they want to keep doing that,” says Benjamin Hovland, chairman of the Electoral Assistance Commission, which helps administer and advise on voting guidelines around the nation.Learning from the pastHistory has lots of lessons to tell us about this process. The first mail-in ballots were cast during the Civil War, and today five states hold their elections almost entirely that way.Oregon is the one that really blazed a trail for American mail-in voting. When the idea first popped up in 1981, there were skeptics and opponents everywhere. By the end of the decade, the state was moving at speed to embrace mail-in voting, first for local elections and then for state and national ballots. A partisan fight over the issue was resolved in 1998, when Oregonians themselves overwhelmingly backed a ballot measure to make the state vote entirely by mail.

Editorials: Trump lets on that his attack on voting-by-mail is fake | Jennifer Rubin/The Washington Post

President Trump’s attack on voting by mail — a practice in effect since the Civil War, and used exclusively by some states and widely by others with virtually no sign of fraud — has been a transparent attempt to discredit an election he looks likely to lose. It has also been counterproductive, as Republican state and local officials have discovered. The Post reports: “President Trump’s unfounded attacks on mail balloting are discouraging his own supporters from embracing the practice, according to polls and Republican leaders across the country, prompting growing alarm that one of the central strategies of his campaign is threatening GOP prospects in November. Multiple public surveys show a growing divide between Democrats and Republicans about the security of voting by mail, with Republicans saying they are far less likely to trust it in November.” Apparently, this has set off alarm bells among Republican operatives in Florida, where many if not most voters in the mammoth elderly population will not go to the polls in person. What if they do not vote at all?

Editorials: What Happens When Trump Refuses to Accept an Electoral Loss? | Lawrence Douglas/LitHub

Trump’s tweet from Thursday should concern all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. We have never had a delayed presidential election in our history—not during the Civil War, not during the Second World War. The fact that Trump lacks the power to delay an election—only Congress could do that—provides cold comfort. The very idea that he would float the idea smacks of the kind of threat to peaceful succession that is the focus of my book. Imagine the following scenario: It’s November 3, 2020, election day. The most expensive—and nastiest—presidential race in US history is over. Turnout is light but only because the COVID-19 outbreak has led tens of millions to vote by absentee ballot. By the time polls close on the West Coast, the race remains too close to call. President Trump carries the crucial swing state of Ohio, keeping his chances of a second term alive. But shortly after midnight, CNN projects that Joe Biden has won Pennsylvania, giving him 283 electoral votes, 13 more than the 270 needed for victory. Wolf Blitzer announces that Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States. The other major networks also declare Biden the winner, with one exception—Fox. At 2 am, Biden delivers a short speech to his jubilant supporters. He notes, to a chorus of boos, that President Trump has not yet called to congratulate him and expresses the hope that he will be hearing from the president shortly. His wait is in vain; the call never comes. And so begins a constitutional crisis of unprecedented gravity. Trump’s refusal to accept defeat is not possible or even probable—it is all but inevitable.

Editorials: How Has the Electoral College Survived for This Long? | Alexander Keyssar/The New York Times

As our revived national conversation on race has made clear, the legacies of slavery and white supremacy run wide and deep in American society and political life. One such legacy — which is particularly noteworthy in a presidential election season — has been the survival and preservation of the Electoral College, an institution that has been under fire for more than 200 years. Our complicated method of electing presidents has been the target of recurrent reform attempts since the early 19th century, and the politics of race and region have figured prominently in their defeat. It is, of course, no secret that slavery played a role in the original design of our presidential election system — although historians disagree about the centrality of that role. The notorious formula that gave states representation in Congress for three-fifths of their slaves was carried over into the allocation of electoral votes; the number of electoral votes granted to each state was (and remains) equivalent to that state’s representation in both branches of Congress. This constitutional design gave white Southerners disproportionate influence in the choice of presidents, an edge that could and did affect the outcome of elections. Not surprisingly, the slave states strenuously opposed any changes to the system that would diminish their advantage. In 1816, when a resolution calling for a national popular vote was introduced in Congress for the first time, it was derailed by the protestations of Southern senators. The slaveholding states “would lose the privilege the Constitution now allows them, of votes upon three-fifths of their population other than freemen,” objected William Wyatt Bibb of Georgia on the floor of the Senate. “It would be deeply injurious to them.”

Editorials: Trump Can’t Postpone the Election—But He’s Trying to Destroy Its Legitimacy | David A. Graham/The Atlantic

In his latest assault on the American electoral system, President Donald Trump today proposed postponing the November election. “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted, offering no evidence for a debunked assertion. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” As Trump may or may not know, the date of the election is set by law, and would require an act of Congress to be overturned. Trump probably cannot postpone the election, the bedrock of American democracy, but the greater danger is that he can destroy its legitimacy. The idea of a delay has been floated previously, though usually vaguely and in response to questions. Jared Kushner refused to rule it out, and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, has warned that Trump would try to postpone the election, though the president has previously affirmed November 3 as Election Day. This time is different, because Trump is raising the idea of his own volition.

Editorials: Trump’s call to postpone elections is an outrageous break with American faith in democracy | Michael Waldman and Harold Ekeh/The Washington Post

President Trump suggested Thursday that the 2020 elections be postponed. To be clear: Trump does not have the power to reschedule voting. Election dates are set by statute dating to 1845, and no U.S. presidential election has ever been postponed. Trump’s call for a delay is an outrageous break with American faith in democracy. This year won’t be the first time Americans have voted amid disruption and crisis. U.S. democracy has functioned through wars and previous public health emergencies, as history shows. In November 1864, the Civil War still raged, with hundreds of thousands dead or wounded. President Abraham Lincoln thought he was likely to lose the election to former general George McClellan, who proposed ending the war with slavery intact. Lincoln was so gloomy about his chances that he wrote a memo to his Cabinet, to be unsealed only after Election Day, that assumed he had lost. (He urged his officials “to save the Union between the election and the inauguration, as [his opponent] will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.”) Last-minute military victories, especially the Army’s capture of Atlanta, swung support toward Lincoln. Voting was not easy, and circumstances led to innovation. The first widespread use of absentee ballots let Union soldiers vote, providing Lincoln’s margin of victory. Two days after his reelection, Lincoln spoke to a crowd serenading him at the White House. There were “emergencies,” he noted. “But the election was a necessity,” he declared. “We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.” That faith in democracy has been evident when Americans have voted during other national emergencies.

Editorials: Trump’s call to postpone elections is an outrageous break with American faith in democracy | Michael Waldman and Harold Ekeh/The Washington Post

President Trump suggested Thursday that the 2020 elections be postponed. To be clear: Trump does not have the power to reschedule voting. Election dates are set by statute dating to 1845, and no U.S. presidential election has ever been postponed. Trump’s call for a delay is an outrageous break with American faith in democracy. This year won’t be the first time Americans have voted amid disruption and crisis. U.S. democracy has functioned through wars and previous public health emergencies, as history shows. In November 1864, the Civil War still raged, with hundreds of thousands dead or wounded. President Abraham Lincoln thought he was likely to lose the election to former general George McClellan, who proposed ending the war with slavery intact. Lincoln was so gloomy about his chances that he wrote a memo to his Cabinet, to be unsealed only after Election Day, that assumed he had lost. (He urged his officials “to save the Union between the election and the inauguration, as [his opponent] will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.”) Last-minute military victories, especially the Army’s capture of Atlanta, swung support toward Lincoln. Voting was not easy, and circumstances led to innovation. The first widespread use of absentee ballots let Union soldiers vote, providing Lincoln’s margin of victory. Two days after his reelection, Lincoln spoke to a crowd serenading him at the White House. There were “emergencies,” he noted. “But the election was a necessity,” he declared. “We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.” That faith in democracy has been evident when Americans have voted during other national emergencies.

Editorials: How to minimize 2020 election chaos | Jennifer Rubin/The Washington Post

President Trump warned us this past week: He will not pledge to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election. We should pause to examine the magnitude of this blatant violation of our democratic norms. The head of the executive branch, sworn to uphold the Constitution, which enshrines the process for electing the president and provides for the peaceful transition of power, effectively tells us, Maybe I’ll go along with the results. Maybe not. His comments have not been sufficiently condemned. Trump has already begun to cast doubt on an election that every public national poll and virtually every poll for critical swing states say he is losing, and losing badly. He has repeated the falsehood that voting by mail, which will be used more widely this year than in any previous election in U.S. history, is subject to fraud. The Post’s fact-checking team has repeatedly debunked this assertion. Salvador Rizzo recently explained:

Documented instances of voter fraud are exceedingly rare in the United States, the odds being lower than those of being struck by lightning, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. More than 250 million votes have been cast via mail ballots since 2000, according to the Vote at Home Institute. In 2018, more than 31 million Americans voted by mail, representing one-quarter of election participants. Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — use mail ballots as the primary method of voting.

The percentage of ballots that are even potentially cast fraudulently, rather than as the result of errors, each year is minuscule. As Elise Viebeck explains, “A Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.”

Editorials: The November Election Is Going to Be a Mess Disaster is avoidable—if lawmakers act now | Norm Ornstein/The Atlantic

American voters face a nightmare in November. The recent stretch of primary elections has raised a slew of red flags of glitches, missteps, incompetence, and worse that could plague the national elections in November. In Wisconsin, the failure of election officials to send out absentee ballots requested by voters and the failure of the United States Postal Service to deliver them in time forced those voters to physically go to the polls during the pandemic. Once there, they faced long lines in part because of the sharply reduced number of polling places. In Georgia, a similar situation occurred. The state had a major shortage of election officials, poll workers, and functioning voting machines. All of these glitches produced lines of many hours, and authorities broke their promise to provide enough paper ballots to ameliorate the crunch. Voters witnessed a perfect storm of bad luck, malfeasance, and ineptitude. Kentucky was lauded for its relatively snag-free primary, but also saw an alarming number of votes by mail disqualified on narrow grounds. These states are not the only ones with obvious problems in their election systems. The offenders are not all red states—or ones whose elections are run by questionable partisans. New York, among many others, has long been plagued by mismanagement of its elections, and it is also having problems fulfilling absentee-ballot requests; as the pandemic has caused tax revenues to plunge, the resulting fiscal shortfall may not leave election officials with the resources to print the ballots. The Postal Service is stretched thin and facing a hostile Republican reaction to its pleas for more money, and the perennial poll-worker shortage will likely be exacerbated this year by the reality that poll workers tend to be older and thus more vulnerable to COVID-19 and the flu. Many signs indicate that the spread of COVID-19 this fall could be severe—even more so if all schools are open—and a bad flu season could add complications.

Editorials: America has to count on more than prayer in the case of close election | Edward Foley/The Hill

Many of us remember the 2000 election and the time of doubt between November and the concession of Al Gore after his Supreme Court defeat in December. None of us were alive for the even more controversial 1876 election. The results were unresolved for months until Congress declared Rutherford Hayes the winner only days before the inauguration. We all hope this year ends up nothing like either of those precedents. But there is an increasing chance that the results of the 2020 election could remain uncertain for weeks because of delays in counting mailed ballots in the midst of the coronavirus. What can our leaders in the government do now to avoid a bad repeat of those calamitous precedents? One answer is to say the prayer of election administrators that the results are a landslide. If the early returns are so lopsided that uncounted ballots will not make a difference in the end, the networks may be able to call an unofficial winner that night. However, realism forces us to recognize that the race could be close enough with the volume of uncounted ballots to prevent a typical Election Day call, with the race going into overtime. At that point the prayer for a landslide fails. What happens then? In this regard, it is worth comparing the 1884 election and 1916 election, on the one hand, with the 1876 election and 2000 election, on the other. No one thinks of 1884 and 1916 as years when the election for president was disputed, and that is the critical point. In both years, however, the results remained unsettled for two weeks, yet the losing side ultimately accepted the final count to be the official choice of the people.

Editorials: Connecticut’s upcoming primary election should be audited. Will it really be? | Luther Weeks/CT Mirror

After every general election and primary, Connecticut law requires a post-election audit. Such audits are intended to provide justified confidence in our elections, that errors were not made, and that machines have not been hacked. However, unless something is done, this year the audits will be by far the weakest, least credible since audits were initiated with the adoption of optical scanners in 2007. Reasonably, in the COVID emergency, Gov. Ned Lamont and Secretary of the State Merrill have provided the opportunity for everyone to vote by absentee ballot in the primary. It is likely the General Assembly will do the same for the general election. Unfortunately, this will exacerbate preexisting gaps in our post-election audits. Congress and voters are concerned with the potential for hacking by foreign governments and insiders, others do not trust the integrity of mail-in voting. The Federal Government has provided billions for protecting elections, with Connecticut spending millions of that Federal money on cyber security and absentee ballot mailings. In contrast, past audits have cost less than $100,000 in a presidential year and this year are on course to be halved in cost and effort for a second time. In 2007 the General Assembly passed post-election audits that mandated auditing the counts in 10% of our polling place voting machines. The audits have proven useful in providing overall confidence and in identifying some flaws in the operation of those machines, uncovering persistent errors by officials, rather than computer errors, and exposing gaps in ballot security.

Editorials: Why is Maryland’s governor making mail-in voting harder in November? | The Washington Post

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised voters last month that they should seek alternatives to casting ballots in person this November, becoming just one more in a parade of health and voting experts warning about the risks of treating the coming presidential election like a normal one. The warnings are as much for state leaders, who bear responsibility both to preserve public health and to enable voting, as they are for voters themselves. And after a mixed bag of covid-era primary elections over the past few months, there are many lessons from hard-won experiences in places such as Wisconsin, Georgia and the District. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) seems not to have learned them. He presided over a largely mail-in primary election in his state last month that saw strong turnout based on extremely high levels of absentee voting — but that also encountered some problems. Absentee ballots failed to reach everyone who wanted one, and polling place closures caused lines for those who sought to vote in person. So Mr. Hogan decided on Wednesday to reverse course and treat the November vote like a more routine election. His reaction may cause more problems than it solves.

Editorials: In face of coronavirus pandemic, Iowa should position itself for a largely remote general election in November | Des Moines Register

Gov. Kim Reynolds has still not signed an executive order restoring voting rights to felons. She did, however, find a pen to sign a bill that could reduce voter turnout. The latest GOP-crafted elections law prevents the Iowa Secretary of State from automatically mailing absentee ballot request forms to registered voters. That means current secretary Paul Pate must now ask the Legislative Council — a Republican-controlled group of politicians — for permission to do for the November general election exactly what he did for the June 2 primary election. Pate, also a Republican, rightly sent absentee ballot request forms (not ballots) to all registered voters in the state. The goal was to protect the public amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The result was record voter turnout in the primary. Pate, like other reasonable people, considered that a good thing. But legislative Republicans apparently don’t want so many Iowans participating in democracy. Perhaps they worry they’ll be voted out of office. So they quickly passed a bill limiting the secretary of state’s authority. What should Pate do now?

Editorials: Congress must act to protect the legitimacy of the election this fall | Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, Tim Roemer and Zach Wamp/The Hill

Nothing is more sacred in our democratic republic than the right to free and fair elections. But that right is being threatened by those who seek to promote fear and division. If fear prevails, the United States could be on a collision course to disaster in November. We cannot allow that to happen. Our nation is in an unprecedented situation. While state election officials have tried their best to hold primaries as the coronavirus pandemic rages, there have been major problems with the operations of several contests, from Georgia to Wisconsin, and plenty of challenges in others. The causes of these problems were largely predictable. Polling stations were shut down, often without notice, due to a lack of workers, meaning long lines at those polling stations that were open. There were faulty and untested equipment and poll workers not knowing how to operate them. There were delayed results and absentee ballot requests not processed due to current staffing levels. None of this is acceptable in 2020. Local and state officials from both parties know best what assistance they need to prepare for the election. They have made their calls clear for new funding, including federal funding, to help make voting safe and secure. The $400 million they have received so far from Congress unfortunately does not even begin to cover all of the costs to make voting safe.

Editorials: Now is the time to fix vote-by-mail in Pennsylvania | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is suing Pennsylvania to force changes in how the state collects and counts mail-in ballots. The lawsuit raises some concerns worthy of review, but the lawsuit should not intimidate officials against moving forward with an even more robust mail-in voting process. The Trump campaign maintains that mail-in voting procedures were accompanied by illegal changes, including allowing voters to drop off completed ballots at collection sites outside of county elections offices such as community college campuses, fairgrounds, retirement homes and parks. This is a more than fair point. We cannot go to such lengths to make voting “convenient” that we compromise the franchise. The campaign is also demanding security envelopes for ballots and poll watchers who monitor collection sites. Democratic leaders view the lawsuit as a strategy to further paint mail-in voting as inherently fraudulent, but that doesn’t address the substantive problems that have become evident. The issues raised in the lawsuit should be reviewed to ensure the integrity of the election, but state officials should also make use of the time before the November presidential election to better prepare for what will likely be a huge number of requests for mail-in ballots.

Editorials: We don’t have to have chaos when America votes this fall | Joshua A. Douglas/CNN

The predictions for Kentucky’s primary this year were dire: massive lines at the polls. A single polling place for over 600,000 voters in the state’s largest city, Louisville, with minority voters impacted the most. Lines lasting all night. The reality was much different: a relatively smooth day, with minuscule lines in most of the state and over a million votes cast, the most ever in a Kentucky primary. To be sure, there were a couple of significant problems, particularly with wait times of up to two hours in Lexington and a terrible initial poll closing in Louisville. Importantly, the Louisville voters who were still making their way from the parking lot to the vote center and were shut out at 6:00 pm when polls closed — and then were banging on the doors to be let in — were allowed to vote after a judge issued an injunction to keep the polls open an additional thirty minutes. Moreover, a single polling place for a large county makes it unjustifiably harder for some people to exercise their fundamental right to vote and is especially galling in a city with a large minority population. Opening just one polling place in Louisville, for example, surely disenfranchised voters who found the transportation hurdles insurmountable, with a disproportionate impact on minority voters. That said, the Kentucky primary was mostly successful. Over 75% of the vote was by mail, with thousands also taking advantage of two weeks of early voting. Kentucky normally requires an excuse to vote absentee and has very little early voting, so it was easier than ever to vote in this year’s primary.

Editorials: How to Prevent an Electoral Crisis | William A. Galston(Wall Street Journal

With crises accumulating, the last thing America needs is a divisive debate about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. But unless we’re skillful and lucky, this is what we’ll get. A recent survey by the bipartisan Voter Study Group found that 57% of Democrats “say it would be appropriate for a Democrat to call for a do-over election because of interference by a foreign government,” and 38% of Democrats would find such a call “appropriate if a Democrat won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College.” As for Republicans, 29% “say it would be appropriate for President Trump to refuse to leave office based on claims of illegal voting in the 2020 election.” Joe Biden has charged that “this president is going to try to steal this election.” President Trump has gone much further. Last week, he tweeted that “because of MAIL-IN BALLOTS, 2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nations history.” Though there is scant evidence to support this allegation, the president’s tweet draws attention to election integrity. The recent upsurge of Covid-19 infections has made it clear that the pandemic will still be with us in the fall. Many citizens will be reluctant to stand in long lines for the privilege of voting in enclosed spaces. A much higher share of the vote will be cast by mail than ever before. Inevitably, votes will be counted more slowly than usual. The results in closely contested states may not be known for days. In the interim, the president and his supporters may renew the charge his tweets have foreshadowed, propelling us into a political conflict more serious than the disputed 2000 election.

Editorials: How to fight election cyber attacks while protecting the health of voters during a pandemic | Quentin E. Hodgson and Jennifer Kavanagh/Baltimore Sun

State and local elections officials — nervously eyeing the fall for a potential second wave of COVID-19 — are scrambling. With only five months before the presidential election, they are scouting larger polling places to enable social distancing and planning to mail and scan more absentee and mail-in ballots than ever. But in addition to keeping poll workers and voters safe from viral transmission, there is a second major risk: how to keep the election itself secure from cyber threats. During the recent months of the pandemic, U.S. adversaries have stepped up both cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns. The United States should expect them to also take advantage of the logistical challenges of voting in a COVID-19 world to redouble their efforts against elections. Cyber threats to U.S. elections came into sharp relief in 2016, when Russia conducted operations to influence the electorate and infiltrate voting systems. In January 2017, the Department of Homeland Security declared elections to be “critical infrastructure” and embarked on an extensive cybersecurity support effort. It established, for example, the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center which provides elections officials with cybersecurity alerts, vulnerability assessments and response aid when experiencing a cyberattack.

Editorials: Can Connecticut GOP block safe pandemic voting? | David Collins/The Day

President Donald Trump in April explained in very stark terms the longstanding efforts by Republicans to suppress the vote as a strategy to win elections. “You’d never have a Republican elected again,” Trump said, in response to proposals to expand the use of mail-in ballots for November to allow for safe voting during a pandemic. The more votes that are cast, the Republican strategy suggests, the more likely they are to lose. Alas, this is true for Republicans even here in enlightened Connecticut, and a partisan battle is setting up over what should be a simple measure to allow voters to participate in democracy while keeping themselves and their families safe. Gov. Ned Lamont has said he would convene a special session of the General Assembly this summer for the limited dual purpose of allowing no-excuse absentee ballots this November and to address new police accountability measures.

Editorials: Florida: Don’t make a mess of voting in this year’s elections | Tampa Bay Times

Georgia made a spectacle out of its primary elections Tuesday, as chaos reigned across polling sites in what should be a cautionary tale for November’s general election. No doubt, the impacts of coronavirus didn’t help, but that threat isn’t going away. Governors and local elections supervisors in Florida and elsewhere need to prepare now by encouraging absentee voting and making fallback plans to keep voting safe and accessible during this pandemic. Georgia’s elections were made-for-TV embarrassing, as voters waited in long lines for hours because poll workers failed to show while other staffers fumbled equipment. Fear of the coronavirus led officials to consolidate voting precincts, creating more crowding and confusion. Several polling places in metro Atlanta opened late because officials misjudged the size of voting machines, forcing delivery trucks to make extra trips. Elsewhere, some workers couldn’t operate the machines because they were inserting voter cards upside-down.

Editorials: Georgia deserves much better on elections | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia blew it — big time. An election meltdown that had been simmering here for a long time finally boiled over Tuesday for all the world to see. The election process — what should be a near-sacred ritual of this Republic — quickly devolved into what national and local commentators called, with ample justification, a hot mess. Georgia must do much better when the next election comes. That’s a big lift, given looming deadlines and wild cards like a global pandemic. But it’s a task that this state must resolve. Democracy demands that much, especially during this divided, angry age that’s strained or shattered faith in bedrock civic institutions. There is adequate blame to go around, and leaders here chose to play the currently fashionable blame game of institutional finger-pointing. Given the magnitude of what happened and the risks for democracy now laid bare, it matters less who screwed up and how. What is of paramount importance is to assess what went wrong and fix it before the next election. The intramural sniping should stop, and the focus needs to shift toward repairing an embarrassing, intolerable mess.

Editorials: There is no place for age discrimination in voting | Yael Bromberg, Jason Harrow and Joshua Douglas/The Hill

Holding safe and fair elections in the midst of a pandemic is challenging for everyone—but eight states make it even harder for voters under a certain age to participate this year. That’s unconstitutional, because the Constitution prohibits age discrimination in voting. Unfortunately, last week, the Missouri legislature and a federal appeals court in Texas both entrenched this discrimination when they could have eliminated it. Both of these actions should be overturned. In sixteen states, voters must provide an excuse to vote at home (voting from home is also known as voting “by mail” or “absentee”). In these states, voters may vote at home only if they are away from the jurisdiction, are physically disabled, or have another specific excuse. Before last week, seven states—Texas, South Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky—grant an automatic excuse for voters above a certain age: usually age 65, but sometimes 60. In these states, older voters do not need any other excuse to vote at home, but younger voters do.

Editorials: Will Vote-by-App Ever Be Safe? | Scott White/Dark Reading

Even with strong security measures, Internet voting is still vulnerable to abuse from state-sponsored actors and malicious insiders. The push for online voting has been happening for years, but now that a major pandemic has hit the US, there is more incentive than ever for states and counties to try out online and mobile voting services. This summer, Delaware and West Virginia will allow online voting in their primaries, and New Jersey is also testing it in a municipal election. The Utah GOP recently used mobile voting in a virtual state convention. Other states and counties are likely to follow. These solutions are far from perfect; to call them “experimental” is putting it nicely. Most of the current providers are new companies with relatively small development teams. Multiple researchers like MIT and Trail of Bits have found vulnerabilities in the voting app created by Voatz. It’s also concerning that the app developer appears to be antagonistic to the security community about such vulnerability research. And let’s not forget what happened to Shadow Inc.’s IowaReporterApp during the Iowa Democratic presidential caucus this past February. The inherent vulnerability of app-based voting is a serious cause for concern, but governments and political parties are likely to pursue them anyway. So, let’s take a closer look at where the problems are.