Editorials: Florida’s Recount Isn’t Really a Recount | Kim Zetter/Medium

Nearly 20 years ago, the nation’s eyes were transfixed on a contentious Florida election recount to determine the winner of the presidential race. That recount was cut short by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that even today has left many wondering who really won. This week, the nation’s eyes (and the president’s tweets) are focused on another contentious statewide Florida recount, this one involving the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and his Republican challenger, Governor Rick Scott. Although two other statewide races are also under recount — the gubernatorial race and a contest for agriculture commissioner — the U.S. Senate race has drawn the most acrimony, attention, and legal action, since a win for Scott would help Republicans maintain their grip on the Senate. Florida’s secretary of state ordered machine recounts in all three of these statewide races due to narrow margins. The deadline for completion was supposed to be Thursday afternoon, but a judge has ordered an extension to Nov. 20 for Palm Beach County. Other counties have complained they cannot complete the process by Thursday.

Editorials: Recounts Are Always Unsatisfying. Get Used to Them. | Stephen L. Carter/Bloomberg

It’s now just more than a week after Election Day, which means that we’re in recount season. In the governor’s and Senate races in Florida, possibly in the governor’s race in Georgia, and in smaller local races galore, officials are gathering to re-tabulate the ballots in contests where one candidate led by a razor-thin margin on election night. It’s become a ritual of our democracy that when the outcome is close, each side usually accuses the other of trying to steal the election. In some cases, it’s obvious that we should double-check the count. Our mantra is, as it should be, to make sure every ballot is counted fairly and accurately. It’s a noble democratic goal. The trouble is, we don’t know how to accomplish it. Seriously. We’ve been counting objects since we were toddlers playing with blocks, and we ought to be pretty good at it. We’re not — at least when we’re counting ballots. The tally from election night (what cognoscenti have come to call the “preliminary” count) is almost certainly wrong. Let’s be very clear about that. Counting errors are a given, no matter what system is used. We humans miscount paper ballots, but machines aren’t much better. Ballots get mangled, they stick to each other, they get counted twice or not at all. So we count again. Of course we do. The trouble is that the recount — known as the “official” or the “certified” count — is also almost certainly wrong.

Editorials: Why is no one talking about the uncounted, suppressed votes in Florida? | Carol Anderson/The Guardian

Florida is, once again, in an election debacle that is straining the bonds of credibility and democracy. Governor Rick Scott has actually called in the state police to investigate “voter fraud” (none was found), then ordered the voting machines impounded in Broward county, all to protect his precarious lead in the US Senate race. A judge, however, emphatically blocked that last command. Senator Marco Rubio, meanwhile, has joined the chorus of those asserting, without any evidence, that something is rotten in Broward county. And Donald Trump has, well, just been Trump. Going so far as to demand that the Republicans be declared victors even before the legal deadline for votes, including those mailed in from military members stationed abroad, to be received and counted. As acrimonious as the 2018 election in Florida has become – as the Republicans seek to discredit the recount – democracy’s wound actually goes much deeper.

Editorials: It’s Time for a New Voting Rights Act | The New Republic

In early 2011, when new census figures showed that Evergreen, Alabama, a small city midway between Montgomery and Mobile, had grown from 53 to 62 percent black over the previous ten years, the white majority on the city council took steps to maintain its political dominance. They redrew precinct lines, pushing almost all the city’s black voters into two city council districts. Then, election administrators used utility information to purge roughly 500 registered black voters from the rolls, all but ensuring that whites would maintain their majority on the council and keep control of Evergreen. That kind of voter suppression is exactly what the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed to prevent. For 48 years, its “preclearance” provision barred election officials in states with histories of voter suppression from making changes to election procedures without permission from the federal government. It was far from a perfect system—even with preclearance in place, Evergreen officials were able to purge the rolls—but it did help hundreds of thousands of black Southerners vote. By 1972, black registration rates had reached 50 percent in all but a few Southern states. In 2013, however, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, striking down the provisions of the law that defined which states fell under preclearance.

Editorials: It’s not rocket science: Voting should be a simple process | Garrett Broshuis/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“I just want to vote! Why can’t I vote?” Like many others, the woman had come to this North County polling place after work. In her early 60s, she had one of her grandkids with her. She had identification. She said she had voted in St. Louis County in previous elections, and she had lived in St. Louis County her whole life. But she said it had been several years since she voted. She wasn’t in the system, so she was sent to a corner of the room known as the “solution center.” The solution center was simply the end of a table in a dimly lit corner of the polling place. Cluttered with affidavits and provisional ballots, four other voters already sat there, all awaiting their voting fates, and all African-American. One of the election supervisors at the polling place was trying to find a solution. Should they vote here? Should they vote somewhere else? Should they not vote at all? Should they fill out provisional ballots? The problem was not isolated to this handful of voters. A couple of voters per hour encountered similar problems, and more during peak hours. The situation almost always resulted in a call to the St. Louis County Election Board — which took forever.

Editorials: Georgia’s Shaky Voting System | Adam Levin and Beau Friedlander/The New York Times

The governor’s race in Georgia between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp has turned into an ugly, drawn-out affair, and we won’t know the final results for a while. Mr. Kemp, the Republican, declared victory and resigned as Georgia’s secretary of state so he wouldn’t be responsible for overseeing the counting of votes in the race — though before he resigned he did make an unsubstantiated claim that Democrats were hacking the election. There is a silver lining in this mess: The new secretary of state could finally fix Georgia’s astoundingly insecure voting system, one of the most poorly protected in the country. This has been a rough election for Georgians. Accusations of racism and voter suppression have abounded. An outside investigation found that more than 340,000 voter registrations had been improperly canceled by Mr. Kemp’s office. A significant number were reinstated by court order, but there is no way of knowing if voter turnout would have been even higher if the Kemp purge hadn’t happened.

Editorials: Our voting machines are aging fast. Congress should improve them. | The Washington Post

One of American elections’ biggest vulnerabilities can be found in one of the most obvious places: the voting machines themselves. The country’s voting infrastructure may not have been tampered with this time around, but experts say outdated systems and an overreliance on hackable electronics mean that if someone wanted to attack the next election, they might well get away with it. Even absent an interference attempt (or at least one that officials are aware of), the problems with voting machines during last week’s midterms were manifest and manifold. In Texas and several other states, technological flaws led to some votes reportedly getting flipped from one candidate to another. In North Carolina, some systems did not work because of the humidity. New York also experienced large-scale breakdowns.

Editorials: Fix Voting Rights Act, end suppression, upgrade equipment before 2020 | Sherrilyn Ifill/USA Today

In many ways, Election Day 2018 was a good one for American democracy. Millions of people turned out to vote. An unprecedented number of women are headed to Congress, including the first Native American women and the first Muslim-American women to serve on Capitol Hill. In Florida, voters restored voting rights to more than a million people who had been disenfranchised for past felony convictions. In Michigan and Maryland, they approved same-day registration. In Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah, they said yes to fair legislative districts. But at the same time, the election provided evidence of what many activists and experts have been saying for years: the machinery of our democracy needs serious maintenance. Together, aging infrastructure and resurgent voter suppression have jeopardized equal voting rights in the United States, turning what should be a source of national pride into cause for alarm.

Editorials: Election security requires federal action: Think of it as an infrastructure opportunity  | Adam K. Levin/The Hill

The framers were futurists in many ways. The original thinking behind our various methods of choosing elected officials was both original and quite literally world-changing, but the system needs an update as technology changes. Pundits will debate certain aspects of our election process. It doesn’t matter which ones. Some decry the soundness of the electoral college in a post-agrarian world (that discussion can wait till 2020), while others focus on the challenges of presenting the public with a truly representative slate of candidates. All such discussions are in the weeds so far as the single most important electoral issue we face. The issues out there are legion, but the secure transport of data is paramount. The way election systems information moves from place to place is key among the myriad attack vectors currently pointed at our nation’s democratic process. This must change.

Editorials: Voting Machines: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? | Jennifer Cohn/NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Since the 2016 election, there has been a good deal of commentary and reporting about the threats to American democracy from, on the one hand, Russian interference by Facebook and Twitterbot-distributed propaganda, and on the other, voter ID laws and other partisan voter suppression measures such as electoral roll purges. Both of these concerns are real and urgent, but there is a third, yet more sinister threat to the integrity of the November 6 elections: the vulnerability of the voting machines themselves. This potential weakness is critical because the entire system of our democracy depends on public trust—the belief that, however divided the country is and fiercely contested elections are, the result has integrity. Nothing is more insidious and corrosive than the idea that the tally of votes itself could be unreliable and exposed to fraud. 

Editorials: Brian Kemp, if you’re running in an election, you shouldn’t be running the election | Joshua Douglas/CNN

American democracy is exceptional for many reasons. One of the most concerning but least understood is that partisan, elected officials run our elections. Instead of having nonpartisan, professional election administrators — the norm in most other democracies — self-interested politicians dictate the rules of the game. Elections should be won on ideas, not election rules. Having election officials dictate the rules for the very elections where they are on the ballot is like allowing an umpire in a baseball game to hit cleanup for his or her preferred team while also calling balls and strikes. Three secretaries of state are running for higher office this year while still administering the elections where they appear on the ballot. Republican Brian Kemp of Georgia and Republican Kris Kobach of Kansas are both running for governor in their respective states while also serving as secretary of state. Ohio Secretary of State Republican Jon Husted of Ohio is running for lieutenant governor. These officials have used their offices to promulgate rules that could affect their elections.

Editorials: A Slow-Motion Coup in Tennessee | Margaret Renkl/The New York Times

Emblazoned on the front page of the website for Vote.org, which was founded in 2008 to increase voter turnout, there’s a quotation from Ronald Reagan: “For this Nation to remain true to its principles, we cannot allow any American’s vote to be denied, diluted, or defiled. The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.” The Party of Reagan no longer shares this particular ideal, at least not here in the South. In Tennessee, transparent voter suppression efforts have included an array of tactics: Confiscating the driver’s licenses of citizens who can’t afford to pay traffic fines. This onerous law prevents the impoverished not only from voting but also from working — 93.4 percent of working Tennesseans need cars to get to their jobs — and being unable to work prevents them from paying their fines. “Since 2012, at least 250,000 driver’s licenses have been suspended for nonpayment of traffic fines and costs,” according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the state. Last month, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in the case, ordering Tennessee to stop the practice of revoking licenses and requiring the state to allow people to apply to get their licenses back. The state is appealing the decision.

Editorials: Protect public trust by auditing elections: It’s easier than you might think  | Marc Schneider/The Hill

Pick one word for how the Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election. How about “distrust?” They used trolling, false stories, fake accounts, and cyberattacks to sow distrust among the American people. And without a doubt, Russians and other adversaries are working hard now to spark anger, confusion, and conflict along economic, gender, political, and racial lines within our country. While an effort to reduce confidence in our voting systems — the actual machines and processes we use to register voters and elect our leaders — was a factor in 2016, I believe it will be an even greater factor moving forward. Why? Because it would be so effective. The objectives of campaigns like Russia’s are to divide and demoralize the public, muddy discourse, and discredit and undermine whoever they see as opponents. What better way to do that than by delegitimizing the election results, particularly in hotly contested races where a small number of votes can make all the difference? 

Editorials: Rigging the vote: how the American right is on the way to permanent minority rule | Ian Samuel/The Guardian

The American right is in the midst of a formidable project: installing permanent minority rule, guaranteeing control of the government even as the number of actual human beings who support their political program dwindles. Voter suppression is one, but only one, loathsome tactic in this effort, which goes far beyond just winning one election. Minority rule is the result of interlocking and mutually reinforcing strategies which must be understood together to understand the full picture of what the American right wants to achieve. Examples are everywhere. Take North Dakota. In 2012, Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, won a surprise victory in a Senate race by just 2,994 votes. Her two largest county wins were in the Standing Rock and Turtle Mountain Reservations, where she won more than 80% of the vote. Her overall vote margin in counties containing Native reservations was more than 4,500 votes. Observing that Heitkamp literally owed her seat to Native voters, North Dakota’s Republican legislature enacted a voter ID law that requires voters to present identification showing their name, birth date and residential address. There’s the rub: many Native voters do not have traditional residential addresses, so this law effectively disenfranchises them.

Editorials: Joining The Poll Worker Army On Election Day’s Front Lines | Pam Fessler/NPR

On Nov. 6, I’ll join almost a million other Americans who have volunteered — for a minimal fee — to help man the polls. It’s an extraordinary thing when you think about it. This army bands together for a single day (or several, if you include early voting) to make sure every American can exercise one of their most fundamental rights. For all the talk of “rigged” elections, cyberthreats, voter suppression and fraud, it’s often those on the front lines who most affect your voting experience. And that responsibility has only become more complicated. After reporting about voting for NPR for 18 years, I decided that it was finally time to work at the polls. I’m usually covering the story, but this year I’m off writing a book and had the time. I started with poll worker training class. In my class of 18, all but two of us were women. We began the four-hour session getting tested on some of the rules, especially for voters with disabilities. No, a voter who wants assistance does not need a note from their doctor. Yes, voters can get help reading and even marking their ballot, as long as the helper fills out a Voter Assistance Form and is not their boss, union representative or a candidate. And doesn’t tell them how to vote.

Editorials: Judges Are Telling Minority Voters They’re Probably Being Disenfranchised, but It’s Too Late to Do Anything About It | Richard Hasen/Slate

In separate rulings on Thursday, two federal courts had the same message for minority voters making credible claims of potential disenfranchisement: Your arguments may be good on the merits, but it’s too late. These courts, which were examining onerous voting rules in North Dakota and Kansas, took their cues from the U.S. Supreme Court, which has embraced an unfortunate rule that even serious voting problems cannot be remedied in the period before Election Day. Native American voters in North Dakota filed suit a while back over the state changing its voter-identification law to make it harder for Native American voters living on reservations and lacking a residential street address to be able to vote. A federal court, seeing that this law could disenfranchise up to 2,000 Native American voters, had blocked the requirement for use in the midterm elections, but the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit reversed. In reversing, the court said there was no proof yet that the law would actually disenfranchise Native American voters, who could potentially get residential street addresses assigned to them before the election. (The Supreme Court, over the dissents of Justices Ginsburg and Kagan, refused to intervene.) And the 8th Circuit order came with a promise: “If any resident of North Dakota lacks a current residential street address and is denied an opportunity to vote on that basis, the courthouse doors remain open.” That promise has now gone unfulfilled.

Editorials: Election Security is an Immediate National Security Concern | Scott Holcomb/Just Security

Election security continues to be an issue of national security. Russia attacked the United States in 2016, and it is doing so again now. I am from Georgia, and my home state is one of the most vulnerable in the nation. It is so bad that citizen activists filed a lawsuit to try to force Georgia to take action and secure its outdated and insecure voting machines that lack a paper trail. But in September, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that, despite valid and serious election security concerns, Georgia can continue using touchscreen voting machines for the midterm elections this year. These machines are known to be vulnerable to hacking—an ever more serious concern following Russia’s 2016 attacks and the assaults it continues to wage today, none of which have been sufficiently addressed.

Editorials: How to protect against voting glitches and security breaches in the midterms and in 2020. | Lawrence Norden/Slate

In the past week, reports of foreign interference in American elections have reached what appears to be a crescendo, with multiple reports about foreign influence operations and targeting of our election infrastructure as well as federal and state efforts to push back. Amid these reports, it’s important for the American public to understand that in the nearly two years since November 2016, election officials (in coordination with state and federal agencies) have done much to secure our voting infrastructure. Perhaps most importantly, federal and state agencies as well as security experts have worked with election officials to provide cybersecurity trainings, risk assessments, and new tools for preventing and detecting attacks. But no election is perfect. Whether or not there are additional attacks against our election system, there will inevitably be some failures. For both glitches and cyberattacks, there are critical, immediate steps that officials can take (and in most cases, are already taking) to ensure that all citizens can vote and that their votes will be accurately counted. The infrastructure we use to administer and vote in elections in the United States is vast and includes election websites that provide voters information on their polling places, voting machines, and systems that report unofficial results on election night. Past attacks on election systems, both here and abroad, show that we should assume any part of them could be a target, and act with measures to prevent, detect, and recover against such attacks. Here are the kinds of election-security issues and voting-system glitches that we need to be most aware of—as well as the steps we can take to ensure they don’t interfere with our ability to cast and count ballots—as we approach both the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential race.

Editorials: How to Punish Voters: The prosecution of individual voters for fraud is a trend that seems intended to intimidate | Josie Duffy Rice/The New York Times

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the chief elections official in the state, is a pioneer of present-day voter suppression. Mr. Kemp has a record of making it harder for people to register to vote, and more difficult for those voters to remain on the rolls. Since 2012, his office has canceled more than 1.4 million voter registrations. In July 2017, over half a million people — 8 percent of the state’s registered voters — were purged in a single day. As of earlier this month, over 50,000 people’s registrations, filed before the deadline to vote in the coming midterm election, were listed as on hold. Seventy percent had been filed by black applicants. Even as Mr. Kemp claims his draconian voting policies are intended to prevent fraud, it’s clear that his real aim is to weaken black voting power in a state where political affiliation is largely dictated by race. He has warned his fellow Republicans about Democrats “registering all these minority voters.” Mr. Kemp’s attempts to prevent people from voting exemplify the familiar ways in which access to the ballot has been restricted for people of color across the United States. But voter suppression also happens in ways that aren’t as well-known, and are even more insidious. In particular, local prosecutors have increasingly brought criminal charges against black voters and community activists for small technical infractions. They’re sending the frightening message that casting a ballot is risky — a message that resonates even when the charges turn out to be baseless and the people charged are acquitted.

Editorials: The case for white hat hacking of our election software | Chris Wysopal/The Hill

Congress did not pass the bipartisan Secure Elections Act. This means in the two years since Russian interference disrupted our election systems, we have failed to improve security around the technologies that support our election processes. Legislating a fix to the problem is proving futile. It’s time to ask ourselves – as citizens, elected leaders, technologists and those interested in protecting our democracy – what else we can do to improve election security. A recent report delivered to Capitol Hill found that “election machines used in more than half of U.S. states carry a flaw disclosed more than a decade ago that makes them vulnerable to a cyberattack,” according The Wall Street Journal. Shouldn’t we view our elections through the lens not just of security, but safety? Think about it this way: we have the NTSB for travel, the FDA for food, OSHA for workplace safety. We would scarcely accept 50 percent of cars on the road to be faulty or 50 percent of food on grocery store shelves to be tainted.

Editorials: Vote. Otherwise, the Hackers Win | John C. Fortier/Roll Call

Don’t let worries about election security keep you from going to the polls. The American voting system is in a better place than it has ever been, and added layers of protection ensure that votes can be cast and properly counted. What are citizens to do when they hear the constant drumbeat of elections under siege and the potential that election results could be changed by malicious actors? The answer: vote. Sitting out the election does nothing to promote election security. Voter turnout in midterm elections typically hovers around 40 percent of eligible voters, which is already too low. Better information about the strength and resiliency of the voting system should reassure worried voters. Let’s remind ourselves what really happened in 2016, because alarmist claims have swirled. Most important to remember is that there is no evidence any voting systems were compromised or that votes cast were changed by outside influence.

Editorials: One Person, One Vote. Is It That Complicated? | Mary C. Curtis/Roll Call

I admit that voting is and has always been a celebratory ritual for me, even if the candidate is running unopposed, the office is state agriculture commissioner or my district’s makeup means my one vote won’t make much of a difference. I watched three older siblings march for civil rights, and I am well aware that many brave folks died protecting my right to cast that ballot. While a little rain or a busy schedule might provide an excuse to “sit this one out,” it’s never enough to outweigh the legacy left by a Medgar Evers, who served his country in World War II and was murdered in front of his Mississippi home for, among other civil rights activity, leading voter registration drives in the country he protected. Mine is not a controversial stand — in fact, it’s patriotic. You would think our country’s leaders, without regard to party or politics, would be on my side. You would be wrong.

Editorials: Voter-Suppression Tactics in the Age of Trump | Jelani Cobb/The New Yorker

Decades ago, amid the most overt privations of Jim Crow, African-Americans used to tell a joke about a black Harvard professor who moves to the Deep South and tries to register to vote. A white clerk tells him that he will first have to read aloud a paragraph from the Constitution. When he easily does so, the clerk says that he will also have to read and translate a section written in Spanish. Again he complies. The clerk then demands that he read sections in French, German, and Russian, all of which he happens to speak fluently. Finally, the clerk shows him a passage in Arabic. The professor looks at it and says, “My Arabic is rusty, but I believe this translates to ‘Negroes cannot vote in this county.’ ” Old jokes have lately been finding renewed salience. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses, once the most common mechanisms for disadvantaging minority voters, have been consigned to the history books, but one need look no further than the governor’s race in Georgia to see their modern equivalents in action. 

Editorials: Is the Assault on Voting Rights Getting Worse, or Are We Just Noticing It More? | Richard Hasen/

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump threatened prosecutions against nonexistent voter fraud, a message likely aimed at intimidating voters and stopping some from voting. With Trump’s heightened rhetoric and a seemingly increasing number of stories about voter suppression around the country, it is worth asking: Has voter suppression actually gotten worse in the 2018 midterm election season? Or are we just hearing about it more thanks to the hyperpolarized political environment? The truth depends on which state you are talking about. In many parts of the U.S., even in many Republican states, registering to vote and voting is becoming easier. But in some key Republican states, Supreme Court decisions have allowed states to put up new hurdles for voting. Just ask Native Americans in North Dakota, black voters in Georgia, or Latinos in Dodge City, Kansas. Whether or not these hurdles actually affect election outcomes, they are outrageous, unjustified, and a drain on state resources.

Editorials: America’s Elections Could Be Hacked. Go Vote Anyway. | The New York Times

Will November’s election be hacked? A quick sampling of news stories over the past couple of years offers little comfort. In the months before the 2016 presidential election, Russian hackers tried to infiltrate voting systems in dozens of states. They succeeded in at least one, gaining access to tens of thousands of voter-registration records in Illinois. In April, the nation’s top voting-machine manufacturer told Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, that it had installed remote-access software on election-management systems that it sold from 2000 to 2006. Senator Wyden called it “the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.” At a hacking convention last summer, an 11-year-old boy broke into a replica of Florida’s state election website and altered the vote totals recorded there. It took him less than 10 minutes. All along, the nation’s top intelligence and law-enforcement officials have been sounding the alarm, warning that Russia is engaged in a “24-7 365-days-a-year” effort to disrupt the upcoming midterm elections and imploring Congress and the White House to take more decisive action.

Editorials: Voting Rights on Life Support in the Age of Trump | Andrew Cohen/Washington Spectator

Two events occurred in 2008 that help explain why we live today in a new age of voter suppression. Everyone talks about the second occurrence, the election of Barack Obama in November and the wave of explicit white racism that followed it, when explaining why so many Republican officials now are so eager deny their fellow citizens the ability to vote. Too few people ever talk about the first event that occurred in 2008 that led us to today’s desperate fight for voting rights: the Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford v. Marion County that upheld Indiana’s voter ID law. The Crawford decision was wrong the day it was decided. Wrong because it validated state lawmakers who had ginned up onerous new voting restrictions without offering any credible evidence that such restrictions were necessary. Wrong because widespread in-person voter fraud, then and now, is a myth fabricated by conservative ideologues who seek to use it as justification to disenfranchise millions of poor, elderly, or minority voters. Wrong, according to 7th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner, the Reagan-nominated judge who wrote the appellate decision the Supreme Court upheld in Crawford. To his credit, Judge Posner determined years ago that he had made a terrible mistake and wasn’t afraid to say so.

Editorials: Georgia’s ‘exact match’ law could disenfranchise 909,540 eligible voters, my research finds | Ted Enamorado/The Washington Post

Recently, there’s been an uproar about Georgia’s approach to voter registration. The state’s “exact match” law, passed last year, requires that citizens’ names on their government-issued IDs must precisely match their names as listed on the voter rolls. If the two don’t match, additional verification by a local registrar will be necessary. The Georgia NAACP and other civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit arguing that the measure, effective since July 2017, is aimed at disenfranchising racial minorities in the upcoming midterm elections. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican who is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, has put on hold more than 53,000 voters so far, given mismatches in the names in their voting records and other sources of identification such as driver’s licenses and Social Security cards. If the measure takes effect, voters whose information does not exactly match across sources will need to bring a valid photo ID to the polls on Election Day to vote. That could suppress voter turnout, either because some voters lack IDs or because voters are confused about whether they are eligible. Proponents of the rule assert that it is only meant to prevent illegal voting. But is missing a hyphen, an initial instead of a complete middle name, or just having a discrepancy in one letter in a voter’s name good evidence that the voter is not who they say they are? How would we know?

Editorials: Bill to reform government, elections should be the top item on the agenda in 2019 | Tiffany Muller/The Hill

Americans don’t believe that their government works for them. And they’re right. They also know that all of the money spent in politics affects every decision made in Washington – and it’s not to the benefit of everyday, working families. Instead, mega donors and special interests have access and influence to lawmakers, members of the administration, and other decision makers that the rest of us don’t.  At best, there’s an uneven playing field stacked in favor of the biggest donors. At worst, this corrupt pay to play system means that politicians are doing the bidding for the individual and corporate special interests who fund and support their campaigns at the expense of the American people. 

Editorials: Midterm elections are four weeks away. Russian hacking is not the only worry ahead. | USA Today

Four weeks from Election Day, it’s hard to be confident that every eligible American who wants to vote will be able to do so, and that every vote will be recorded accurately. Hacking has gotten the most attention since the 2016 Russian attacks on the presidential race. In July, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned that the “lights are blinking red again.” Along with possible foreign interference, other problems — some the fault of federal and state inaction — loom over this crucial election. Among the most serious:

Aging equipment. Thirteen states still use voting machines without a paper trail in some or all counties, leaving no reliable way to audit votes after an election. Five states — Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — use these outdated machines in every county, although election experts have been warning for years about their inadequacies. Officials in some states are in denial about how vulnerable the systems are and have fought improvements. Even where problems are recognized, some states have failed to make replacement a budget priority.

Editorials: Voter Suppression Is No Excuse – Yes, it’s an outrage. But it is not the main reason that voter turnout is so low. | David Leonhardt/The New York Times

“My message in this upcoming election is very simple: It’s vote,” Barack Obama told his former speechwriter Jon Favreau in a recent episode of “The Wilderness” podcast. “It’s not that much to ask.” “This isn’t really a 50-50 country. It’s like a 60-40 country,” Obama continued. “Democrats could and will do even better if every one of your listeners not only votes but makes sure that all your wishy-washy, excuse-making, Internet-surfing, TV-watching, grumbling-but-not-doing-nothing friends and family members get to the polls. Vote.” Obama was clearly smiling as he delivered the line. But as soon as I heard it, I knew the reaction that many progressives would likely have: Don’t blame us — blame voter suppression! It’s the same reaction that I’ve heard when I have written about the miserably low voter-turnout rates in midterm elections.