Editorials: The high art of disenfranchisement | Editorial/MiamiHerald.com

Attorney General Eric Holder says the U.S. Justice Department will move aggressively to review the plethora of new voting laws that state legislatures across the nation have passed in recent years to exclude minority voters. Get to it, Mr. Holder.

There is no better place to start than in Florida where picking and choosing voters has become a high art and low crime. And it is not just minority voters who face these new hurdles but young voters, voters who have moved into new precincts, voters whose interest in politics is newly awakened. In short, voters who aren’t part of a tightly knit group that can be counted on for party-line (dare we say, Republican) ballots in a state where Democrats outnumber GOP registered voters.

Consider the issue of restoring civil rights, including the right to vote, to people who have completed their sentences on felony convictions. Not a popular bunch, not a group easy to defend. Yet, these are people who have paid the debt demanded of them by society, and it’s in society’s best interest to give them a stake in the future of their communities.

Editorials: California sits on sidelines in 2012 primaries | latimes.com

California’s distant spectator seat in the presidential nominating arena is, in part, the result of misplaced spending priorities in Sacramento. We bought a ticket in the nosebleed section because Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature refused to spend an estimated $100 million for a separate presidential primary early in the nominating process.

Instead, they combined presidential balloting with the regular state primary on June 5, long after the Republican nomination surely will have been nailed down, most likely by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. That means Republican voters in the nation’s most populous state will probably have no voice in whom the party nominates for president. They can only shout a meaningless cheer or catcall.

“Cost is always a problem,” says state Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), who stepped down Wednesday as Senate minority leader. “But sometimes you can be penny wise and pound foolish. It’s hard to put a price on democracy. “Frankly, I don’t think we’re treating the voters of California the way they ought to be treated.”

Editorials: Montana Supreme Court, Citizens United: Can Montana get away with defying the Supreme Court? | Slate Magazine

On the rare occasions when the world talks to you in stereo, it’s a good idea to set aside your knitting and listen. This week, Americans got their first good look at what super PACs—political organizations that can receive unlimited corporate contributions and make unlimited expenditures for federal candidates—have wrought in Iowa. At the same time, the Montana Supreme Court issued a stunning opinion last Friday, upholding the state’s law limiting corporate election spending. Think of the two as a sort of woofer and tweeter for life in a post-Citizens United world.

The impact of the so-called super PAC on the Iowa election has been profound. Just ask Newt Gingrich, who was clobbered by almost a third of the more than $14 million in super-PAC ad money spent in the weeks before the caucus. When the court handed down that decision in 2010, it assumed both that these expenditures would be independent of the candidate’s official campaigns (they’re not; one is financed by Jon Huntsman’s dad) and that disclosure rules would ensure that Americans knew who was buying and selling their elections (we don’t).

Ruth Marcus has a great piece explaining all the ways in which the super PACs are both coordinating with campaigns and evading federal disclosure requirements. She notes that this was the inevitable consequence of both the Citizens United decision and subsequent lower-court rulings. Whether he meant to or not, she writes, Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion in that case, managed to “clear the path for independent expenditure committees backing a particular candidate—and bankrolled by the candidate’s father or run by his former top aides.”

Editorials: Looking Ahead to the End of this New Year | Edward B. Foley/ElectionLaw@Moritz

Will the rules, particularly recent changes in the rules, governing elections make a difference in the outcomes next November? Possibilities include the effect of changes in campaign finance laws or the laws governing voter identification and other aspects of the vote-casting process. But something entirely unexpected may upend the best efforts to predict what will happen in this potentially momentous presidential election year.

At this season’s holiday parties friends would say, referring to the upcoming presidential election, “2012 is going to be a big year.” I would agree politely, as undoubtedly 2012 will be an interesting and important year politically. It cannot help but be, given the pressing economic issues facing the nation, and stalemate in Washington, with each side hoping that the electoral verdict in November will somehow break the deadlock in its favor.

But will 2012 be a big year legally, meaning will election law feature prominently in assessments of the significance of political developments at the end of 2012? In other words, next New Year’s Eve will we look back and say that this or that aspect of the legal regime for conducting our elections affected which candidate or party won an important electoral victory?

Editorials: Solving the problem of Virginia’s restrictive primary rules by allowing for write-in candidates | Slate Magazine

Intelligent life exists beyond Iowa, and even beyond New Hampshire. Before the Republican Party crowns its nominee, voters from other states should and will be heard. Or will they? According to Virginia law, many a lawful voter will not be allowed to vote for the candidate she truly favors on the day of the Virginia primary—March 6, to be precise. So far, no one seems to have highlighted this gaping flaw in the Virginia election code.

Virginia’s ultra-strict ballot-access laws, whose obstacle course kept every Republican presidential candidate off the ballot except Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, were challenged last week by Rick Perry’s legal team and supporters of Newt Gingrich. Last Friday four other GOP candidates signed onto Perry’s legal challenge as well.

Virginia’s ballot-access rules are indeed extreme, but it’s hard to say, as Perry’s lawyers are contending, that these rules are unconstitutional. Governments are allowed to print official ballots, and as long as they are in this business, surely they may choose to list only the names of the major candidates. Short lists plausibly promote democracy by making it easy for the ordinary voter to find and vote for his preferred candidate.

Editorials: Virginia’s primary failure | The Washington Post

If the aim of Virginia was to host a presidential primary that no one cared about, it seems to have succeeded. Only two candidates — former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) — qualified to appear on the ballot, and many voters may be discouraged by a foolish loyalty oath requirement by the Republican Party. It’s too late to change the requirements for access to the 2012 ballot, but a priority of the returning General Assembly should be to review a primary system that has so little regard for the interests of voters.

The failure of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry to qualify for the March 6 primary has renewed scrutiny of the state’s cumbersome laws governing ballot access. Seen as among the nation’s most stringent, the Virginia rules demand that a candidate collect 10,000 voter signatures, an unusually high number, with additional requirements on how they can be collected, where and by whom. Clearly, Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Perry, who has gone to court in a bid to get his name on the ballot, must accept responsibility for not gathering the requisite number of names; the rules are well known and have been in place for years.

Editorials: Why vote on Tuesdays? No good reason | CNN.com

Today, Iowans will kick off the Republican nominating process for president of the United States with the first-in-the-nation caucuses. But why a Tuesday?
The short answer: We vote on Tuesday for absolutely no good reason. This is true especially when you consider the United States, arguably the world’s most famous democracy, has ranked near the bottom of all nations in voter participation for more than half a century. And that’s not because, as Mitt Romney suggested to me last month, we need great candidates to increase voter turnout. Heard of JFK? Reagan?

The little-bit-longer answer: We vote on Tuesday because of a law passed in 1845 meant to make voting convenient for Americans traveling by horse and buggy. Seriously. When Congress set out to pick a day for Americans to vote, ultimately settling on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, voting could take two days: a day to get to the county seat to vote and a day to get back for market day on Wednesday. They couldn’t travel on the Christian sabbath, so by process of elimination, Tuesday, the first convenient day of the week, was chosen. It was as simple as that.

Editorials: Tuesday’s Other Election | Mother Jones

Tuesday is shaping up to be a big day in the world of politics. In Iowa, Republican caucus-goers officially kick off the 2012 presidential election cycle at 1,774 precincts across the state. In Egypt, voters in nine of the country’s 27 governorates head to the polls in the third and final round of elections for the first People’s Assembly to convene since last winter’s revolution.

At first glance, the contests couldn’t be more different. Egyptian voters will cast their ballots against a backdrop of continuing political instability and a volatile security environment. In Iowa’s gymnasiums, libraries, and churches, the greatest disruptions might well come from a handful of rowdy Ron Paul supporters.

But dig a little deeper, and one finds some uncanny parallels. If democracy really is God’s gift to the world, He’s infused it everywhere with His own quirky sense of humor. Here are a few to look out for as the first voting of the new year gets underway.

Editorials: Citizen Bopp | The American Prospect

Wedged up against the Illinois border on the banks of the Wabash River, Terre Haute, Indiana, has seen better days. Many factories have closed, and downtown has too many vacant storefronts. But there are signs of activity: Indiana State University has grown, the federal prison still provides reliable jobs—and the ten-lawyer litigation machine that occupies the offices of attorney James Bopp Jr. at the corner of 6th and Wabash is going full tilt.

Bopp is best known as the lawyer behind a case involving a 90-minute film made in 2008 attacking then–presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Bopp’s suit ultimately resulted in the landmark 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, in which the Supreme Court held that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts such as the movie and its promotional ads were legitimate expressions of free speech and couldn’t be limited by campaign-finance laws. The ruling overturned key restrictions on the use of corporate and union money in politics. Bopp is already well into the next phase of his crusade to topple as many of the state and federal limits on the role of money in politics as can be done in one man’s lifetime.

Over the past 30 years, Bopp has been at the forefront of litigation strategies that have reshaped campaign-finance law inexorably. Having helped pave the way for spending in the 2012 elections that’s likely to exceed the 2008 level by several billions, Bopp is already well into the next phase of his crusade to topple as many of the state and federal limits on the role of money in politics as can be done in one man’s lifetime. His targets include two of the few remaining bedrock principles of money-and-politics law: disclosure mandates and the prohibition against unions and corporations giving directly to candidates and parties. He’s also juggling cases that go after dollar limits on contributions, attack elements of public-financing programs, and chisel away at other facets of the regulatory regime.

Editorials: Review & Outlook: Holder’s Racial Politics | WSJ.com

Eric Holder must be amazed that President Obama was elected and he could become Attorney General. That’s a fair inference after the Attorney General last Friday blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on grounds that it would hurt minorities. What a political abuse of law.

In a letter to South Carolina’s government, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez called the state law—which would require voters to present one of five forms of photo ID at the polls—a violation of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Overall, he noted, 8.4% of the state’s registered white voters lack photo ID, compared to 10% of nonwhite voters. This is the yawning chasm the Justice Department is now using to justify the unprecedented federal intrusion into state election law, and the first denial of a “pre-clearance” Voting Rights request since 1994.

Editorials: 2012 – the year of elections | Fareed Zakaria/CNN.com

2011 will likely be recorded as a year of historic change. Mass uprisings have upended governments across the Arab world. Economic mismanagement in Europe led to changes at the top in Italy, Greece and Spain. 365 days ago you couldn’t have predicted these events. You couldn’t have imagined so many leaders would lose their jobs. So what if I told you that you can predict that in 2012, a lot of leaders will say goodbye? No, I’m not gazing into a magic crystal ball. You see, 2012 is the year of elections.

59 countries will be tallying up votes – local, state or national. There are 193 countries in the world so that’s about a third of the world’s nations. 26 of these may see a change in national leadership. Together, these changes could affect 53% of the world’s population, representing half of the world’s GDP. And a lot of the change is concentrated in the world’s most powerful countries. Four out of the five U.N. Security Council members could see changes at the top. That’s Russia, China, France, and, of course, the U.S. These four countries alone represent 40% of the world’s GDP.

Editorials: Holder’s Voting Rights Gamble – The Supreme Court’s voter ID showdown. | Rick Hasen/Slate

On the Friday before Christmas Day, the Department of Justice formally objected to a new South Carolina law requiring voters to produce an approved form of photo ID in order to vote. That move already has drawn cheers from the left and jeers from the right. The DoJ said South Carolina could not show that its new law would not have an adverse impact on racial minorities, who are less likely to have acceptable forms of identification.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley denounced the DoJ decision blocking the law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: “It is outrageous, and we plan to look at every possible option to get this terrible, clearly political decision overturned so we can protect the integrity of our electoral process and our 10th Amendment rights.” The state’s attorney general vowed to fight the DoJ move in court, and thanks to an odd quirk in the law, the issue could get fast-tracked to the Supreme Court, which could well use it to strike down the Voting Rights Act provision as unconstitutional before the 2012 elections.

The current dispute has an eerie echo. More than 45 years ago, South Carolina also went to the Supreme Court to complain that Section 5 unconstitutionally intruded on its sovereignty. Under the 1965 Act, states with a history of racial discrimination like South Carolina could not make changes in its voting rules—from major changes like redistricting to changes as minor as moving a polling place across the street—without getting the permission of either the U.S. Department of Justice or a three-judge court in Washington, D.C. The state had to show the law was not enacted with the purpose, or effect, of making minority voters worse off than they already were.

Editorials: Voter ID Laws Could Keep Students From Voting in 2012 Elections | Camira Powell/PolicyMic

College campuses across the nation are teeming with students ready to exercise their right to vote, one of the few perks that comes with turning 18. Yet, instead of encouraging students to take part in this rite of passage, some states are imposing voter ID requirements that make it much harder for them to vote. The fact that some Republicans see these new voter restrictions as a good thing shows their complete disregard for the democratic process. Moreover, it is demonstrative of their reasonable fear of losing the upcoming presidential election.

At first glance, the laws do no seem that restrictive. The new laws are requiring voters to present government-issued IDs, such as a passport or drivers license. However, when considering that a significant portion of students only carry a form of student ID, it becomes an issue. Additionally, other laws being endorsed by Republican lawmakers regarding voter ID can be interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state drivers’ licenses; thus, excluding more students from being able to vote.

Editorials: Virginia: If it’s wrong to exclude Gingrich and Perry, can they get on ballot? | CSMonitor.com

Mitt Romney is having fun with Newt Gingrich’s inability to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, likening him to Lucille Ball in the famous episode of “I Love Lucy” where she can’t keep up with a conveyor belt of chocolates. “You’ve got to get it organized,” Mr. Romney chided Tuesday in New Hampshire. But to Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker and a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, the ballot failure is no laughing matter.

He also has influential Virginians who agree that it was wrong to exclude Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry from the March 6 Virginia primary. Each had submitted more than the required 10,000 signatures, but on Dec. 24, state election officials deemed that they did not have enough valid signatures to qualify.

Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are the only two candidates to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot. Other major contenders, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, did not attempt to collect the necessary signatures.

Editorials: Verifying Pakistan’s voter lists | Dawn.com

The Election Commission of Pakistan was given the task to remove the 37 million bogus voters from the list (Dec 16) and replace them with new ones eligible to vote. The Supreme Court observed that the preparing of voter list can be delegated to National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) if the Election Commission is not able to complete the task.

Nadra has the record of all eligible voters and is also responsible for issuing the National Identity Card. It is better equipped to prepare the voter list. The Election Commission’s prime responsibility should be to ensure transparent, free and fair election, it should consider making voting compulsory and improving the system of vote casting at polling stations.

Editorials: Fighting the bad fight with Charlie White | Journal and Courier

Let’s start here: If I’m Charlie White, I’m fighting like crazy for my job. If I’m Charlie White, one controversial year into my first term as Indiana’s secretary of state, I’m fighting like mad for my political career. If I’m Charlie White, I don’t want it to end like this.

But I’m not Charlie White. The real Charlie White is fighting like crazy, but he doesn’t seem to know that it’s all crashing down in ways that a political career can barely survive and in ways that expose Hoosier voters at a time when they need strong character leading the elections division at the Statehouse.

If I’m the Indiana voter — hey, that is me — I’m asking: Why is Charlie White still running this particular show?

Editorials: Keeping College Students From the Polls | NYTimes.com

Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote. Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.

Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.

It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. On Friday, the Justice Department, finally taking action against these abuses, blocked the new voter ID law in South Carolina.

Editorials: A Proposed Solution to Voter ID Controversy | Curtis Gans/Huffington Post

For the majority of Republicans it is an article of faith that their electoral fortunes would best be served by rain on election day — that, despite evidence to the contrary, the lower the turnout the better their chances of winning, or so they believe.

So, it is not surprising that it is Republican legislators, largely in Republican-controlled legislatures, that have proposed and, in some states, enacted laws that would require photo identification at polling places in order for citizens to cast their ballots. But one should take with a grain of salt the GOP claims that these laws are primarily enacted to prevent fraud when the demography of the 20 million citizens who don’t have photo identification is largely composed of people who are poorer, more minority and the more immobile elderly than the rest of the population, a group whose voting history is strongly Democratic but which would have the greatest difficulty in obtaining proper identification.

It does not, however, follow as the night the day that the way for Attorney General Eric Holder, Democrats, minorities, self-named good government promoters, liberals, editorialists and others to deal with the ID issue is to mount, as they now are doing, coordinated frontal opposition to them and assert that fraud in the voting process does not exist. Why?

Editorials: Holder’s Legacy | Jeffrey Toobin/The New Yorker

Two years ago, the Supreme Court decided a case that may, it now appears, save Barack Obama’s chances at reëlection—and, more importantly, preserve a precious corner of American democracy.

For many years now, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been under assault. The law requires that any changes in voting rules in certain states, mostly in the South, be “pre-cleared” by the Justice Department, to make sure that they do not impinge on the voting rights of minorities. Many people in these states and elsewhere have argued that the law is now obsolete and that its pre-clearance provisions stigmatize and demean places that have long ago reformed from their racist pasts. In the 2009 case of Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, the Court had a chance to invalidate the law—and ducked. Instead, by a vote of 8-1, the Justices disposed of the case on procedural grounds and left the larger fight for another day. (Clarence Thomas dissented, arguing that the Voting Rights Act is indeed obsolete and unconstitutional.) The Voting Rights Act, and its pre-clearance provisions, remained intact.

The importance of the Northwest Austin case was apparent last week when the Justice Department rejected South Carolina’s new law to impose a photo-identification requirement for voters in 2012. “According to the state’s statistics, there are 81,938 minority citizens who are already registered to vote and who lack D.M.V.-issued identification,” Thomas E. Perez, the chief of the department’s civil-rights division, said in a letter to South Carolina officials. The only reason the Justice Department had the chance to rule on the South Carolina changes is because of the pre-clearance rules. (South Carolina may challenge the Justice Department decision in court, thus possibly setting up another test of the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court.)

Editorials: 2011, the year of the recall – Why has the recall vote suddenly become so popular? You may think it’s anger, but it’s really technology | Joshua Spivak/latimes.com

This year an enraged electorate has made its presence felt, through Occupying events and a roller-coaster Republican presidential primary process. But the most obvious sign of political activism has been the unprecedented use of recall elections. The numbers tell the tale: In 2011, at least 150 elected officials in 17 states faced recall votes.

Recalls stretched from the Arizona state Senate to the Miami-Dade mayor’s office to the school board in Grenora, N.D. Eleven state legislators faced recall — including nine in Wisconsin. Thirty mayors were subject to recall votes in 2011. At least three municipalities adopted the recall. Nineteen U.S. states allow recalls, with more — South Carolina among them — seriously considering adopting the process. It’s even grown internationally, with governments in India, Britain and Australia all considering adopting the recall in some form.

Editorials: Americans Elect needs to identify its donors | Sacramento Bee

Americans Elect certainly is stirring up 2012 presidential politics as it seeks a path for a centrist alternative to challenge President Barack Obama and whoever the Republican nominee might be. The upstart organization has successfully obtained a place for an as-yet unnamed candidate on California’s 2012 presidential ballot. By year’s end, Americans Elect hopes to have gained access to ballots in 30 states, toward a goal of having ballot space in all 50 states.

To the extent that competition for the two-party system is good, this nonprofit group offers value. But there are serious questions about an organization whose logo includes a question mark. The biggest one: Who are all the funders of Americans Elect? To finance the ballot access drive, Americans Elect’s leaders say donors have given $30 million. The money pays for signature-gathering efforts in some states and legal fees to help meet requirements in other states.

But other than saying that its founder, investor Peter Ackerman, has donated $5.5 million, Americans Elect hasn’t identified its contributors. The reason, according Ackerman’s son and Americans Elect’s chief operating officer Elliot Ackerman, is that donors worry about consequences if they’re identified.

Editorials: Federal is the latest challenge to Florida’s politically motivated voting law | HeraldTribune.com

The venerable Florida League of Women Voters has decided to make a federal case out of a restrictive, punitive and politically motivated voting law approved this year by the state Legislature. Good for the league, and its co-plaintiffs.

The league is one of three groups that filed a lawsuit last week in a Tallahassee federal court, challenging the law. The suit asserts that the state law violates the plaintiffs’ rights to free speech and conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act. Joining the league were Rock the Vote — a national organization that engages young Americans in voting — and the Florida Public Interest Group Education Fund. This lawsuit is one of two federal cases involving the Florida voting law.

Editorials: Gail Kerr: Haslam should use new boldness to fix voter ID bill | The Tennessean

The new, improved Gov. Bill Haslam — willing to weigh in on issues — should use his new leadership to urge solutions to what is a messed-up voter photo ID law. He’s dropping hints that he might intervene, saying the state’s driver’s license stations were not ready for the lines of voters seeking a photo ID so they can vote. Haslam is not asking lawmakers to postpone the law. But he used an interesting little word: “yet.”

“We haven’t made that recommendation to them yet,” Haslam said. The driver’s license centers need to be “a little more customer friendly,” the governor told reporters, and “they’re not where they need to be yet.” Haslam could do this and offer political cover to both parties. He could, for example, ask that the legislature push back the start date by a year to make more improvements to reduce driver’s license station wait times.

He could float an amended bill, allowing college students to use their student IDs at the polls and exempt seniors. He could push lawmakers to grandfather all existing registered voters in, and begin requiring a photo on voter registration cards from here on out. He could create a new system in which you get a new registration card with a picture taken at the time you go vote. That would phase in a new system nicely over time. Even some supporters concede that, as is, this has the potential to be a complete mess on Election Day.

Editorials: Avoiding the Florida Nightmare in 2012 | Iyer and Norden/Roll Call Opinion

On Election Day 2000, tens of thousands of Floridians accidentally marked their ballots in ways that could not be read by the state’s voting machines. Their votes didn’t count. The identity of our next president hung in the balance for 36 days.

To prevent the Florida debacle from repeating, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002. The law required states to upgrade their voting machines. Voting machines must now warn voters and give them an opportunity to correct their ballot if they determined there was an “overvote,” the invalid selection of more than one candidate, on the ballot.

This technological fix was supposed to make these kinds of lost votes a thing of the past. Although there is no reliable nationwide data on the number of overvotes in recent elections, it is likely that the voting-machine changes mandated by HAVA have substantially reduced overvoting. But the HAVA requirements haven’t been enough to prevent votes from being lost — sometimes in staggering numbers — in recent elections.

Editorials: The Texas Redistricting Case and the Likely Continued Erosion of the Section 5 Process | Concurring Opinions

The Supreme Court has decided to take up Texas’ redistricting plan on an expedited briefing and argument schedule. Even though it’s not directly a case involving preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, functionally the Court’s decision will likely have significant implications for Section 5. While it’s never easy to predict what the Court might do, as I explain below, I think that ultimately the Court will find a way to continue down its recent path of decisions limiting the procedural protections afforded to minority voters by Section 5.

Boiled down to the essentials, the facts of the Texas case are relatively simple. Texas is a jurisdiction covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. So in order to implement any redistricting plan, Texas needs to go through the process of securing preclearance (or pre-approval) from the federal government—either from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or from a three-judge panel of the D.C. District Court where DOJ serves as defendant. DOJ had some issues with the substance of Texas’ congressional and State House plans, alleging that the plans were discriminatory in effect and purpose in their treatment of Latino voters. Texas sought preclearance of its plans by moving for summary judgment, but the D.C. District Court decided that DOJ had created material issues of fact that necessitated a trial.

Editorials: Still no voting rights in UK for British expats | Expat – My Telegraph

A year ago I wrote about one man’s crusade to force the UK government to allow British expats to vote in parliamentary elections after a 15 year absence from the country. Recently James Preston, a British fund manager living in Madrid, took the matter to the High Court with the assistance of a legal firm working on a pro bono basis but his case was summarily dismissed. He intends to appeal.

In effect this ruling means that current legislation continues to penalise Britons choosing to live abroad, and could disenfranchise 5.5 million British expats from voting in UK parliamentary elections in the future. Other countries in the EU such as France and Germany and those such as the USA do not treat their citizens with such derogation.

Editorials: Attorney General Eric Holder Defends Voting Rights | NYTimes.com

There has been a coordinated attack this year on voting rights. More than a dozen states have enacted laws that are intended to make it more burdensome for Americans to cast a ballot, which President Lyndon Johnson called “the basic right, without which all others are meaningless.” New requirements – for special IDs, for example–will reduce turnout among minorities, the uneducated, the poor, the elderly, the newly arrived, students and other groups that traditionally vote for Democratic candidates. (For an explanation of why voter ID laws have a discriminatory effect, see my previous post on the subject.)

Now Attorney General Eric Holder is fighting back. I was delighted to hear Mr. Holder deliver a powerful speech  in Texas yesterday, during which he said his department is facing five separate lawsuits aimed at killing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which gives the Justice Department the power to review any changes to voting rules in 16 places that have a history of discrimination.

Editorials: Don’t push panic button on E-vote | Edmonton Journal

In an age of electronic communication, it seems archaic that voters in civic elections must physically show up at a polling station to cast their ballots. Some day, people surely will be able to vote using their computers, phones or iPods. However, that day need not arrive in 2013, when Edmontonians will again elect a city council. A new report to council shows that E-voting is something the city needs to enter very carefully.

The usual thinking about letting people vote remotely – by phone, computer or text message – is that it will encourage more people, especially young people, to fill out a ballot. However, the administration report going to city council points out that panellists at an Elections Canada workshop on e-voting said “it is not clear that E-voting actually increases overall turnout rates or the youth vote.”

What does seem clear is that E-voting has been problematic in a couple of countries that tried it. In the Netherlands, most spectacularly, a group hacked into computers on live television to show how easily the 2006 election results could be manipulated. The Dutch government has banned electronic remote voting because it thinks it can’t be made secure without a huge expenditure of money. Britain has also halted its trials of E-voting, because of problems with viruses and breaches of ballot security.

Editorials: Voter ID: a solution looking for a problem | phillyBurbs.com

With all of the pressing business confronting the Legislature in Harrisburg, Republican lawmakers are somehow finding the time to advance legislation to require Pennsylvanians to show photo identification every time they vote.
Were there some demonstrated critical need to safeguard the voting process from fraud, we would applaud the Senate State Government Committee’s approval of an ID bill on Monday and a House version that passed in June.

But from all we can gather, voter ID “reform” is the classic solution in search of a problem and looks and smells suspiciously like a Republican effort to disenfranchise large numbers of voters who tend to vote for Democrats.
Bucks County state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, chairman of the government committee, says he’s seen no proof that voter ID would deny the elderly, the disabled, the poor, minorities and young people the right to vote. In fact, on Monday, his committee lengthened the restrictive list of acceptable photo IDs that was part of the House bill. McIlhinney called the requirement a “security check.”

Editorials: Vote suppression tactics all too familiar | baltimoresun.com

Paul Schurick’s recent conviction for voter fraud is a sad coda to the 2010 Martin O’Malley-Bob Ehrlich gubernatorial rematch: Sad because Mr. Schurick tainted his reputation as one of the state’s best political strategists, and sadder because Governor O’Malley almost certainly would have been re-elected no matter what late-campaign shenanigans Mr. Schurick pulled.

But the saddest thing about Schurick’s conviction is that his actions are merely one small part of a larger and more systematic attempt by conservative strategists to find ways to suppress voter turnout in service to Republican partisan advantage. Unlike in the Schurick case, most such efforts are perfectly legal (though certainly unsavory).

Let’s take a quick tour of the voter-suppression activities under way across the nation. In the past year, 19 new laws and two executive orders were issued in 14 states to create stricter voter identification requirements. These measures were supported and passed largely by Republicans after gaining control of state legislatures and governors’ offices in 2010. Their aim is to constrict the electorate for 2012 and beyond.