Editorials: Voter ID controversy gets worse | Melanie Balog/The Post and Courier

It’s apparently more tricky than anybody thought to figure out how many South Carolina voters need photo IDs. This week, the State Election Commission released an updated estimate of how many registered voters don’t have photo IDs. The previous estimate was 178,000. On Thursday, they said it was probably 217,000 — or about 40,000 more.

Then Friday, the commission said that they may have further underestimated the numbers, by excluding more than 74,000 people who haven’t voted since 2006. The state attorney general’s office wants some more information about those newly discovered.

“We’re going to talk with the S.C. Election Commission and figure out what analysis they used to come up with their numbers,” said Deputy Attorney General Bryan Stirling. He said he expects that to happen early next week. Then they’ll either submit new information to the DOJ or ask that the Election Commission go back and recalculate, he said.

So, in one week we’ve gone from 217,000 to potentially more than 290,000 people. Of course, that’s minus the 21 people who signed up for rides to local DMV offices Thursday. If the DMV could register 21 people a day, every day of the year, it would take 38 years to get everybody covered.

Editorials: ‘I’m just wondering if it’s all necessary’ | The Item

Antonia Preston made a trip to Sumter’s branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday to get an ID but will have to go back today. The 89-year-old Sumterite doesn’t have a birth certificate, she said, and her current state ID expired.

The state DMV hosted “State Identification Card Day” on Wednesday in an effort to get people government-issued IDs so they’re able to vote after the Voter ID law takes effect in November.

Proponents of the law say it’s needed to combat voter fraud, while detractors contend many elderly and rural residents will be disenfranchised because often their births weren’t registered with the state.

Editorials: As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe | NYTimes.com

Hundreds of thousands of disillusioned Indians cheer a rural activist on a hunger strikeIsrael reels before the largest street demonstrations in its history. Enraged young people in Spain and Greece take over public squares across their countries.

Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.

They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box. “Our parents are grateful because they’re voting,” said Marta Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards’ decades spent under the Franco dictatorship. “We’re the first generation to say that voting is worthless.”

Editorials: The Fundamental Right | NYTimes.com

The right to vote is sometimes said to be the most fundamental in American democracy. Yet legal challenges to the federal voting rights law are increasing even as they highlight the racial injustices that make it essential. In a ruling last week, Judge John Bates of Federal District Court rightly dismissed such a challenge by Shelby County, Ala., which sought to have a central part of the law declared unconstitutional.

That provision, Section 5, requires states and local governments with histories of racial discrimination to obtain “preclearance” of any changes in local voting rules with the Justice Department or a federal court. Because it was common for jurisdictions to adopt new discriminatory practices after a court struck down old ones, the 1965 Voting Rights Act required the “covered” jurisdictions — six Southern states, and other counties and cities around the country — to show that any proposed rule change would not discriminate against minorities. Congress renewed Section 5 in 2006.

Editorials: Democracy Under Attack | Judith Browne Dianis/Huffington Post

Today, we are witnessing the greatest assault on democracy in over a century.

Through a spate of state laws that restrict the type of identification a voter may use, limit early voting, place strict requirements on voter registration, and deny voting rights to Americans with criminal records, many voters will be cast out of the democratic process before they even make it to the polls. Those who do make it will face additional challenges. To complement legislative efforts to suppress the vote, the Tea Party and its allies have vowed to place millions of challengers at polls in 2012 to dispute voters’ eligibility in ways that may intimidate eligible voters and disrupt polling place operations. This two-prong strategy will impede American voters at every step of the voting process.

Not since the days of poll taxes and literacy tests has our country seen such blatant attempts to suppress the vote. Model legislative proposals crafted and strategically disseminated by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative legislative advocacy group that receives funding from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation prompted some 34 states to introduce repressive photo identification legislation this year. While the bills vary slightly from state to state, they share one common thread. All of them require that voters must show non-expired, photo ID issued by that particular state or the federal government in order to cast a ballot. And all of them do so under the guise of preventing rampant voter fraud.

Editorials: Independent vote audit needed in South Carolina | The Post and Courier

During the last legislative session, a Senate judiciary subcommittee heard testimony from the State Election Commission and its critics about problems in the 2010 elections. The committee suggested that the two sides work together to recommend improvements to the process.

So far that hasn’t happened. Critics of the system, including the League of Women Voters, contend that the state’s electronic voting system is inherently flawed. The State Election Commission says the system is functional and that problems experienced in the last general election can be fixed.

Given the continuing disagreement over the electronic voting system, which is used throughout the state, an independent look at the situation is in order. The Legislative Audit Council ought to be given the task. A column on our Commentary page from former Clemson computer science professor Eleanor Hare cites problems with verifying data from the 2010 election.

Editorials: Will the South Rise Again?: Voting Rights Edition | Mother Jones

Last Wednesday, the district court of the District of Columbia threw out a challenge to Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs, a coalition of conservative legal groups from Shelby County, Alabama, argued that Section Five, which requires a number of southern states to pre-clear changes to their electoral procedures with the Department of Justice, was illegal because it seeks to correct a problem—the mass disenfranchisement of minorities—that is supposedly nowhere near as pervasive as it was back in the glory days of Jim Crow.

In its opinion, the court convincingly argued that Section Five provides a still-necessary bulwark against discrimination. But that hasn’t stopped the Project on Fair Representation—a Washington-based group that helped fund the Shelby County suit and similar efforts around the country—from pushing back.

Editorials: Colorado’s besieged clerks | Vincent Carroll/The Denver Post

Wherever you go in Colorado, the most public-be-damned civil servant is likely to be the county clerk.

I’ve reached this conclusion with regret, since my experience with clerks over many years, without fail, has been pleasant and fruitful. But the clerks this year have dug themselves into a stance that endangers the integrity of elections. Moreover, to protect their monopoly on access to voted ballots — a monopoly to which they clearly have no right under the Colorado Open Records Act — they are trying to scare the public with lurid tales of how voter anonymity is at risk.

Back in March, you may recall, the clerks association denounced a bid by Secretary of State Scott Gessler to conduct an official, public recount of a contested election in Saguache County, claiming his “proposal sets a dangerous precedent.” The clerks’ real fear, however, was not that Gessler might look over their shoulder but that he would let the public do so, too. And he did — once a district judge ruled in August that “voted ballots are election records” under the open records law, permitting the recount to proceed.

Editorials: Pennsylvania Voter ID bill costly, not needed | York Daily Record

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill known as the “Voter Identification Bill” to change the current Election Code. Before it actually becomes law, this bill must be approved by the state Senate, then signed by the governor.

Legislators must consider that this bill could potentially interfere with the voting rights of minorities, students, poor and the elderly. This Voter ID Bill is not a solution to any problem. It does not protect against, nor prevent, any actual cases of fraud. Fraud surrounding voting includes: voter harassment or intimidation, throwing out proper votes, giving out false information about when or how to vote, stuffing ballot boxes, and tampering with election forms.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was enacted by the federal government in 2002 to make elections run smoother and to prevent cases of fraud by election officials and campaign workers. The voter does not normally commit fraud. The problems identified with elections are already resolved by Pennsylvania’s current Election Code and by HAVA. Enforce those laws and protect the constitutional rights of registered voters.

Editorials: The case against internet voting in Canada | Troy Media

Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer recently mused about experimenting with internet voting in a by-election, which many believe would result in a higher voter turnout (especially by those in remote locations, or with disabilities).

Besides ameliorating voter turnout, which has sagged badly in recent elections, it is believed that internet voting might reduce costs and provide quicker reporting of results.

But is e-voting a good idea? I’m not so sure. Meaningful observation of the voting process would be difficult. If the system has no paper trail, there’s no external evidence it has operated correctly.

Editorials: Overheated or reheated? Fraud claims leave us cold | Bill Nemitz:/The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

In a perfect world, Secretary of State Charlie Summers’ press conference on Wednesday would have produced one of two story lines.

The first: Summers stuns the state with clear evidence of widespread fraud by voters who illegally registered and cast ballots in Maine on past Election Days.

The second: Summers, conceding that his two-month search for same-day registration fraud has come up dry, apologizes to Maine citizens for wasting their tax dollars on a wild goose chase.

But this, as we’re all painfully aware, is not a perfect world. So here we are once again, stuck with story line three: Summers, unable to back up the Maine Republican Party’s claims that same-day voter registration has suddenly become a threat to our democracy, sets off a smoke bomb and screams, “Fire!”

Or, as the secretary himself put it, “Essentially we’re at the point where the system is very overheated.” Oh really? Let’s go to the numbers.

Editorials: Victory in Shelby County v. Holder: U.S. District Judge Issues Sweeping Ruling Upholding the Voting Rights Act | Text and History

This morning, Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a welcome and thoroughgoing rebuke of a challenge to the Voting Rights Act brought by Shelby County, Alabama.  Judge Bates’ comprehensive 151-page opinion rejected Shelby County’s challenge to Congress’ 2006 near-unanimous renewal of the Act’s preclearance requirement, and is the first decision to consider the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 opinion in NAMUDNO v. Holder, which left that question open.

Today, Judge Bates echoed arguments made by Constitutional Accountability Center in its “friend of the court” brief, recognizing “the preeminent constitutional role of Congress under the Fifteenth Amendment to determine the legislation needed to enforce it.”  (For more on Congress’ power to enforce the Civil War Amendments, see CAC’s Text and History Narrative, The Shield of National Protection).  Judge Bates respectfully considered the arguments for striking down the Act’s requirements raised in NAMUDNO, but concluded that they were inconsistent with the deference due to Congress’s express constitutional powers to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.

Editorials: Railroad Blues – redistricting season is upon us again | Jonathan Rodden and Jowei Chen/Boston Review

Redistricting season is upon us again. Politicians and interest groups are pouring over proposed and finalized maps, and pundits are trying to keep score. How many seats will the Democrats pick up in California? How many will they lose in Missouri?

More important than score-keeping, however, is whether the composition of the legislature reflects the partisanship of the electorate. Will a party that wins 50 percent of the votes get 50 percent of the seats? In most states the answer is no. Republicans can expect a sizable advantage, and not because of gerrymandering.

Editorials: Is Rick Perry Right That the Seventeenth Amendment Was a Mistake? | Vikram David Amar/Verdict.Justia

Among the many provocative things Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has said is that the American people “mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century . . . by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment).”

In this column, we analyze why the Seventeenth Amendment—providing for direct election of U.S. Senators—came about, and whether it would be a good and/or workable idea, as Perry suggests, to repeal it.

The Original Constitution and the Provision for State Legislative Election of Senators

Most historians and legal commentators agree on the basic story of Senate election methods. In 1787, the Framers and ratifiers of the original Constitution chose legislative election largely to safeguard the existence and interests of the state governments.

Editorials: How Southern Republicans Aim to Make White Democrats Extinct | Stacey Abrams/US News and World Report

State Rep. Stacey Abrams serves as the Georgia House Minority Leader.

Across the state, legislative maps are drawn to split voters along artificial lines to isolate them by race. Legislators see their districts disappear, themselves the target of racial gerrymandering. Citizens rise up in protest and demand the right to elect the candidate of their choice, but the ruling party ignores them. Racial groups are identified and segregated; their leadership eliminated. It is the way of the South. Only this isn’t 1964, the year before the signing of the Voting Rights Act. This is Georgia in 2011.

But this time, the legislators at risk are white men and women who have had the temerity to represent majority African-American districts, and Latino legislators who spoke up for their growing Hispanic population. In crossover districts, where whites and blacks have worked together for decades to build multi-racial voting coalitions, the new district maps devised by the Republicanmajority have slashed through those ties with speed and precision. If the maps proposed by the GOP in Georgia stand, nearly half of the white Democratic state representatives could be removed from office in one election cycle. Call it the “race card”—in reverse.

Editorials: Vote suppression in the US revs up | Al Jazeera English

In the 1964 presidential elections, a young political operative named Bill guarded a largely African-American polling place in South Phoenix, Arizona like a bull mastiff. Bill was a legal whiz who knew the ins and outs of voting law and insisted that every obscure provision be applied, no matter what. He even made those who spoke accented English interpret parts of the constitution to prove that they understood it. The lines were long, people fought, got tired or had to go to work, and many of them left without voting. It was a notorious episode long remembered in Phoenix political circles.

It turned out that it was part of a Republican Party strategy known as “Operation Eagle Eye”, and “Bill” was future Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. He was confronted with his intimidation tactics in his confirmation hearings years later, and characterised his behaviour as simple arbitration of polling place disputes. In doing so, he set a standard for GOP dishonesty and obfuscation surrounding voting rights that continues to this day.

This week, in one of its greatest acts of elective chutzpah yet, Republicans in the state of Pennsylvania set forth a plan to split the state’s electoral votes for president proportionally by congressional district. This is not illegal, or even unprecedented. Two other states have this system. And some people have been arguing for years that the whole country should abolish the Electoral College altogether in order to avoid such undemocratic messes as the 2000 election. Many of them have settled on the idea of all states simultaneously adopting the system of alloting electoral votes proportionally instead of winner-take-all as a sort of compromise. But that’s not what’s happening here.

Editorials: Vote suppression in the US revs up | Al Jazeera English

In the 1964 presidential elections, a young political operative named Bill guarded a largely African-American polling place in South Phoenix, Arizona like a bull mastiff. Bill was a legal whiz who knew the ins and outs of voting law and insisted that every obscure provision be applied, no matter what. He even made those who spoke accented English interpret parts of the constitution to prove that they understood it. The lines were long, people fought, got tired or had to go to work, and many of them left without voting. It was a notorious episode long remembered in Phoenix political circles.

It turned out that it was part of a Republican Party strategy known as “Operation Eagle Eye”, and “Bill” was future Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. He was confronted with his intimidation tactics in his confirmation hearings years later, and characterised his behaviour as simple arbitration of polling place disputes. In doing so, he set a standard for GOP dishonesty and obfuscation surrounding voting rights that continues to this day.

This week, in one of its greatest acts of elective chutzpah yet, Republicans in the state of Pennsylvania set forth a plan to split the state’s electoral votes for president proportionally by congressional district. This is not illegal, or even unprecedented. Two other states have this system. And some people have been arguing for years that the whole country should abolish the Electoral College altogether in order to avoid such undemocratic messes as the 2000 election. Many of them have settled on the idea of all states simultaneously adopting the system of alloting electoral votes proportionally instead of winner-take-all as a sort of compromise. But that’s not what’s happening here.

Editorials: The Old Electoral College Switcheroo: The Devastating Consequences of Pennsylvania’s Proposal to Game the Electoral College | Joshua Spivak/Huffington Post

With a close 2012 presidential race approaching, Republican-dominated legislature is now looking to deliver a big blow to President Obama’s electoral strategy. The state is debating whether to switch its allocation of its Electoral College votes from the winner-take-all system used by nearly every other state to the congressional district-based system of dividing votes.

The result of such a switch could seriously damage Obama’s chances of reelection. He won 21 electoral votes in Pennsylvania in 2008. Under the district-based system, he would have only won 11. But the effect on 2012 is not the real problem with such a switch — instead it could cause a quadrennial havoc and serve as another body blow to any public confidence in the electoral system.

The Electoral College has already come under massive criticism following the 2000 presidential debacle, with numerous legislative attempts to revamp or junk the College. Whatever the merits of the complaints, one of the positives of the system is that most voters may view the Electoral College as a simple process — win a state, win its votes. However, the winner-take-all, also known as the “Unit Rule,” allocation method of the Electoral College is not mandatory. It is used by forty-eight states. But the other two, Nebraska and Maine, hand out two votes to the winner of the state, and give the rest of their votes (combined, they have nine) to the winner of each congressional district. And only once, in 2008 when Obama won one vote in Nebraska, have those two states split their vote.

Editorials: Stickers for Wisconsin Student IDs a welcome start | The UWM Post

When Voter ID became law last May, most student IDs were automatically excluded from acceptable forms of identification. This is no longer the case now that the Government Accountability Board has approved student IDs for voting, provided they have necessary stickers attached.

We endorse this decision as a whole. Yet even this seemingly straightforward directive is laden with conditionals. Rather than limiting ourselves to a blanket judgment, we will weigh in several particulars.

First, we believe that UW-Milwaukee should begin offering these stickers as soon as the law goes into effect. The GAB’s decision stopped short of mandating that colleges issue acceptable voter identification, leaving it to individual schools to pursue a sticker program if they so choose. However, it would be unconscionable for UWM to decline to provide makeshift voter IDs.

Editorials: Stickers for Wisconsin Student IDs a welcome start | The UWM Post

When Voter ID became law last May, most student IDs were automatically excluded from acceptable forms of identification. This is no longer the case now that the Government Accountability Board has approved student IDs for voting, provided they have necessary stickers attached.

We endorse this decision as a whole. Yet even this seemingly straightforward directive is laden with conditionals. Rather than limiting ourselves to a blanket judgment, we will weigh in several particulars.

First, we believe that UW-Milwaukee should begin offering these stickers as soon as the law goes into effect. The GAB’s decision stopped short of mandating that colleges issue acceptable voter identification, leaving it to individual schools to pursue a sticker program if they so choose. However, it would be unconscionable for UWM to decline to provide makeshift voter IDs.

Editorials: GOP push vs. voter fraud based in rumor, not reality | Chicago Sun-Times

This summer, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted did something remarkable: He spoke out against his own party’s legislative proposal requiring voters to present photo IDs at polling places. Husted said he would “rather have no bill than one with a rigid photo identification provision that does little to protect against fraud and excludes legally registered voters’ ballots from counting.”

Husted’s position is a stark contrast to a national Republican drive to pass voter ID requirements. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 38 states considered some type of voter ID and/or citizenship requirement in their last legislative session. Seven passed them, bringing the total with such laws to 15.

Editorials: Wisconsin’s photo ID law has big image problem | JSOnline

I’m officially done arguing with people about whether the new photo ID law is a plan to suppress the vote in the minority community or not. Thanks to a whistle-blower in Madison, I’ve finally got my answer.

For a long time I’ve argued with readers that a photo identification law for Wisconsin wasn’t really necessary but could actually open the door for voter suppression among low-income minorities in a city like Milwaukee.

Even after Wisconsin Republicans passed the photo ID bill last May, I argued about the need to make sure it wasn’t overly restrictive or difficult to obtain. I have also pointed out my troubling racial concerns about a photo ID bill passed in a state where white Republicans currently run things. How many times have you heard the Democratic Party referred to as the main party for minorities and poor people?

Editorials: John Nichols: Voter ID rule is a poll tax | madison.com

When Wisconsin legislators passed the most restrictive voter ID law in the country earlier this year, they enacted what legal experts and voting rights activists have correctly identified as a poll tax. Proponents of the law argued otherwise. They pointed out that eligible voters who could not afford a state ID could obtain one without charge.

With the decision of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to direct DMV employees to refrain from actively informing the public about the ability to receive a free identification card for the purposes of voting, however, the potential that the voter ID law could serve as a poll tax becomes realistic — and legally significant. Notably, the head of the DOT is a former Republican legislator with close ties to Gov. Scott Walker, and the author of the memo on denying information to prospective voters is a political appointee.

The term “poll tax” has a sordid history. With roots in the anti-democratic practice of allowing only the landed gentry to vote, poll taxes became even more notorious when they were associated with the efforts of Southern segregationists to deny the franchise to African-Americans. A critical turning point came in 1962 with the ratification of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed poll taxes in federal elections.

Editorials: Education on state’s voter ID law a must for Tennesseans | Knoxville News Sentinel

If Tennessee absolutely must have a law requiring voters to produce photo identification, the state Election Commission is absolutely right to conduct an education campaign to make voters aware of the law.

The law was passed by Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature last spring, despite warnings about its questionable constitutionality. The law becomes effective in January 2012, so it will not pose an obstacle for the 2011 city of Knoxville and state Senate elections, for which early voting has begun.

The law was touted by supporters as a check on voter fraud, an argument that made it to the U.S. Senate on Thursday. However, Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on civil rights, said the incidence of voter fraud is minimal and doesn’t require this remedy, according to a story on Tennessean.com.

Editorials: League of Women Voters’ Melanie G. Ramey: Lawsuit defends voting rights, upholds state constitution | madison.com

Ninety-one years ago, women won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment. Without being able to participate in the election of their state and federal officials, the women suffragists found support — and ultimately the votes they needed — in Congress and state houses across the land. Then they created the League of Women Voters to educate voters and affect public policy through citizen education and advocacy.

With such a history, it is no wonder that the league is now concerned about the many eligible citizens who will be disenfranchised by Wisconsin’s new voter ID law. We can’t imagine what we, the people of Wisconsin, have done to deserve the most restrictive voting law in the nation. That is why we are challenging Wisconsin’s new law, while also helping citizens to obtain a voting ID if they do not have one.

The new law places an unfair burden on people who do not need a driver’s license, in particular the elderly, people with disabilities, low-income citizens and students. It excludes anyone who does not have an acceptable ID for any reason.

Editorials: Unopposed candidate names should appear on Indiana ballots | The Star Press

Hoosier voters could always count on receiving a complete ballot when they stepped inside the voting booth. Not any more.

In a misguided example of trying to streamline the voting process and save a few dollars, a new state law that went into effect on July 1 prohibits listing the names of unopposed candidates on the ballot. This bill will do nothing except create confusion, while any monetary savings would be negligible.

Editorials: The sky didn’t fall after all | The Denver Post

There, that wasn’t so terrible, was it? Democracy didn’t sputter out when citizen volunteers were allowed to inspect — and yes, handle — ballots cast by residents of Saguache County in a recent recount of last fall’s contested results.

Unwashed barbarians did not desecrate the sanctuary of our election priesthood, as Colorado’s county clerks all but predicted earlier this year when they were denouncing the proposal. “We believe ballots are sacred,” the president of the Colorado County Clerks Association declared in commentary published in The Post, adding that “the integrity of our elections is worth fighting for.”

Yes, the integrity of our elections is worth fighting for. And that’s why the precedent in Saguache County is so important.

Editorials: I don’t want to card my neighbors | Pittsburgh Post Gazette

If I need a cup of sugar, I just ask Marsha next door. She’ll even bring it into my kitchen if my hands are covered in flour. When we need an extra set of hands to move a heavy object, we know we can ask Joseph, who will help with a smile. If I need someone to listen, Janet lends me her ear.

What other relationship do my husband and I have with these and another 450 of my neighbors? I’m the election inspector at our polling place, and he is the judge of elections. Twice a year, five of your neighbors become public servants for the day.

… Poll workers serve for different reasons. Many, maybe the majority, are retired on limited incomes and want a little spending money. Some are students who want to earn a few extra dollars, but they also receive a valuable lesson in democracy. Others, like my husband and myself, don’t work for the money, but who couldn’t use a few more dollars these days? We want to serve the public and enjoy catching up with our neighbors and their families.

We also would like a little respect from Harrisburg. Under legislation which passed the state House, is pending in the Senate and is backed by the secretary of the commonwealth, we could be fined $300, jailed for one year or both if we allow someone to vote without a photo ID.

Editorials: Allure of online voting may outweigh the risks? | Vancouver Sun

If you can trust your life savings to an online bank and pay your taxes over the Internet, why can’t you vote that way? The answer, according to a discussion paper on Internet voting released this week by Elections B.C., is that it’s harder to guarantee a fair election online than it is to safeguard your savings.

Banks anticipate some level of fraud and while that is a cost borne collectively by all of their customers, individuals are covered. An electoral system, on the other hand, has to be able to demonstrate that every vote cast is counted exactly as intended.

It also has to accomplish a couple of other, inherently contradictory tasks. It has to identify the person voting to ensure they are eligible and that they are only voting once. At the same time, it has to register the vote in a way that doesn’t connect the choice it expresses to the person casting the ballot. It also has to be transparent enough so that the public it serves can have faith that the outcome will reflect the will of the people, while remaining secure from hackers.

Editorials: The GOP War on Voting | Rolling Stone

As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. “What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century,” says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.

Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. “I don’t want everybody to vote,” the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” But since the 2010 election, thanks to a conservative advocacy group founded by Weyrich, the GOP’s effort to disrupt voting rights has been more widespread and effective than ever. In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.