Editorials: Democracy is under threat from the malicious use of technology. The EU is fighting back | Julian King/The Guardian

Alongside traditional canvassing, political parties can now get their messages across using the internet and social media, tools that have not only made it possible to reach large numbers of people but also, increasingly, to micro-target individuals with tailormade messages. This should, in theory, mean an electorate better informed than ever before. But those same tools can easily be hijacked by malicious actors – both state and non-state – to subvert our democratic systems and be used as a weapon against us. And unfortunately, such interference has become increasingly common in the past few years, be it regarding a referendum on an EU agreement with Ukraine or a US presidential election. Preventing our democratic processes, the very building blocks of our society, from being affected is not a concern for the future. It is a task of the utmost importance now, one that requires immediate action. Indeed, we have been working on addressing this threat for a while and are looking to step up our response, together with our member states.

Editorials: The Trump administration’s deception on the census should be a major scandal | Paul Waldman/The Washington Post

I realize that many times before you’ve been told, “If this weren’t the Trump administration where there’s a new scandal every day, this would be a major scandal.” You sighed and said, “I’m sure that’s true,” then moved on. But let me explain why the administration’s treatment of the U.S. census should, in fact, be a major scandal, particularly given some blockbuster news we just got. This scandal has a malign conspiracy, public lies, possible perjury, and an unrelenting assault not just on a core American institution enshrined in the Constitution but on democracy itself. As you may have heard, the Trump administration has decided to add a question to the 2020 Census asking whether those answering are U.S. citizens. It’s already widely known that it’s hard enough already to get people, particularly in immigrant communities, to answer the questions, because there’s not only concern about privacy but also fear that the census will be used to target people for harassment or even deportation.

Editorials: Let noncitizens vote. What’s the worst that could happen? | GustavoArellano/Los Angeles Times

As if President Trump’s America needed more reason to hate California, here comes news that San Francisco began to register noncitizens last week to vote for local school board races this November. Actually, it’s old news: Voters OK’d the plan in 2016 with the passage of Measure N. But its implementation has triggered Fox News and their peers, and has Republican politicians whispering that this is the latest Democratic plot to use undocumented Mexicans to destroy America — never mind that most of the people now eligible to vote in San Francisco are actually Chinese. Conservatives need to calm down. Noncitizen voting already is happening in some Maryland towns, and democracy there is still alive. Giving them access to the ballot box is a great gesture — it lets more people hold government accountable, adds a shot of vitality to our democracy, blah blah blah.

Editorials: The Battle For The Right To Vote Has Never Been Won | Josh Marshall/TPM

There is no democracy without the vote. There is no democratic legitimacy. There is no rule of law. And yet the vote has been contested throughout our country’s almost 250 year history. We think most often of the march toward universal suffrage rights for all adult citizens: the vote for all white men in the 1820s and 1830s, the extension of voting rights to African-American men in 1870 (15th Amendment) and women in 1920 (19th Amendment). But these de jure enactments have never been the whole story.

Editorials: Maryland can’t protect its elections | Mary Kiraly/The Washington Post

It was heartening to learn that Maryland’s leaders raised alarmover a recent warning from the FBI that an election contractor with financial ties to a Russian oligarch and with tentacles into most of the major components of the Maryland voting system has been unmasked. The historical context for the current situation should be understood. In 2007, after years of citizen advocacy, the General Assembly passed legislation that would move the state to paper-ballot/optical-scan voting. During that process, cybersecurity and computer experts from major institutions, including Princeton University and the Brennan Center for Justice, testified about the urgent need to abandon paperless touch-screen voting and to secure computerized election tabulation systems with a paper ballot. A talented and prescient computer scientist at Johns Hopkins University had his career savaged in this process, as the full displeasure of a voting system vendor was directed at this research.

Editorials: The threat to our democracy? Our indifference to fixing our voting machines. | Philadelphia Inquirer

Not that anyone living in the reality-based world needed more convincing, but the recent indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials charged with interfering in the 2016 election, and President Trump’s apparent alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin in denying the hacks, underscores the seriousness of this attack on the United States’ democracy. Prior to the indictment, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee said in May that the Russian government “conducted an unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign against state election infrastructure.” Trump’s willful blindness to the Russian cyberattacks means the U.S. remains vulnerable to interference in future elections.   All the more reason why states, including Pennsylvania, must move to protect our voting system from such attacks.

Editorials: How the Midterm Elections May Be Compromised | Myrna Pérez/The New York Times

This fall, millions of Americans may head to the polls only to find their names aren’t on voter registration lists anymore. These voters may have to cast provisional ballots. Or worse, they could be turned away from the polls altogether. The cause? Voter purges — an often-flawed method of cleaning up voter registration lists by deleting names from voter rolls. Purges, of course, aren’t necessarily a bad thing. State and local election officials have a real need to ensure voting lists are accurate and up-to-date. During the course of a lifetime, people move. Sometimes people change their names. And inevitably, people die. Voter rolls should reflect those changes. But purges are a growing threat that we’ve found may imperil the right to vote for millions of Americans in the midterm elections in November.

Editorials: It’s Time to Pretend We’re Shocked by Yet Another Voter File Data Breach | Dell Cameron/Gizmodo

A security researcher has, yet again, discovered thousands of U.S. voter files with a minimal amount of effort. Given that over the past year virtually every registered U.S. voter has been exposed by one data breach or another, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to feign our surprise. According to the researcher, Kromtech Security’s Bob Dianchenko, the files were available online for virtually anyone to download and had long been indexed by GreyhatWarfare, a website that currently lists more than 48,000 Amazon S3 buckets, in which potentially confidential files can be found. Dianchenko linked the Amazon server containing the voter files to Robocent, a Virginia-based political campaign and robocalling company. More than 2,600 files were exposed, including voter file spreadsheets and audio recordings for several political campaigns. The voter data itself contained names, phones numbers, addresses, political affiliations, age and year of birth, gender, voting district, and other demographic information, such as language and ethnicity.

Editorials: New Hampshire’s new poll tax: Just because a law is deemed constitutional doesn’t make it right | Keene Sentinel

Armed with a Supreme Court opinion, Gov. Chris Sununu quickly signed into law House Bill 1264 Friday, much to the consternation of those opposed to the voter-obstruction attempt. The new law is a bad one, regardless of what a 3-2 majority of the court found. It’s a cynical attempt to throw hurdles in front of those attending New Hampshire colleges, but who hail from out of state, and little more. That doesn’t mean it will affect only those students; other groups will also soon find themselves burdened with having to produce a state driver’s license or auto registration in order to cast New Hampshire ballots. They include military personnel stationed here; seasonal workers or those on temporary assignment; per-diem nurses and other fill-in health workers; and anyone rightfully living in the state while on a contract. As the court’s majority itself noted, even a town or city manager serving a limited term might be deemed “not a resident” and therefore not eligible to vote if he or she didn’t profess an intent to remain in the state permanently.

Editorials: Russia election hacking: Mueller’s latest indictment suggests it could be even more damaging next time. | Lawrence Norden/Slate

Much of the analysis following special counsel Robert Mueller’s Friday indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers has focused on their alleged conspiracy to hack into Clinton campaign and Democratic Party computers and email systems during the 2016 election, and on questions about coordination between then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian infiltrators. But the indictment also included new revelations about the extent of Russia’s attacks on our election systems in 2016—and those details provide a warning that we need to get serious about preparing for even more damaging attacks in this year’s midterms. The latest indictment alleges that Russian intelligence officers hacked into the website of a yet-unidentified state board of elections. Among other new information, it alleges Russia used that hack to steal information related to 500,000 voters.

Editorials: Brett Kavanaugh, Who Has Ruled Against Campaign Finance Regulations, Could Bring an Avalanche of Big Money to Elections | Lee Fang/The Intercept

The elevation of D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could have a profound impact on the rules governing the American democratic system. In recent years, the Supreme Court has swiftly remade the landscape of American politics, gutting 1960s-era civil rights laws restricting voter suppression, sharply weakening labor unions, and deregulating the campaign finance system to allow for wealthy individuals and corporations to exercise greater influence over elected representatives. With President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, that influence is poised to grow. Kavanaugh’s appellate court decisions and public comments suggest that he will accelerate the trend toward a political system dominated by wealthy elites — often operating in the shadows, without any form of disclosure.

Editorials: Does Brett Kavanaugh Spell the End of Voting Rights? | Ari Berman/The New York Times

In late 2011, the Obama administration blocked a South Carolina law that required voters to show a photo ID before casting their ballots, finding that it could disenfranchise tens of thousands of minority voters, who were more likely than whites to lack such IDs. But when South Carolina asked a federal court in Washington to approve the law, Brett Kavanaugh wrote the opinion upholding it. He ruled that the measure was not discriminatory, even though the Obama administration claimed that it violated the Voting Rights Act. Judge Kavanaugh, whom President Trump nominated for the Supreme Court recently, pointed to a 2008 Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s voter ID law, which he interpreted as giving states broad leeway to restrict their voting procedures. “Many states, particularly in the wake of the voting system problems exposed during the 2000 elections, have enacted stronger voter ID laws, among various other recent changes to voting laws,” he noted in approval.

Editorials: North Carolina’s Voter ID amendment isn’t about fraud | Earl C. Johnson/News & Observer

In May of last year the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that struck down the North Carolina’s voter ID law as an unconstitutional effort to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” As a result, the argument that a voter ID law was necessary to eliminate voting fraud was soundly defeated. There was a conclusion that if this law passed, it would cause irreparable damage black voters. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal on this far-reaching, mean spirited and misguided attempt by the extreme members of the Republican Party had finally buried this ghost once and for all. As Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said at the time, “An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing.”

Editorials: Kavanaugh’s Record Doesn’t Bode Well for Voting Rights | Ari Berman/Mother Jones

Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, could determine how the court rules on cases that shape the future of voting rights in the United States. And if his track record is any indication, many Americans could be disenfranchised as a result. As a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh voted in 2012 to uphold a South Carolina voter ID law that the Obama administration said would disenfranchise tens of thousands of minority citizens. The Justice Department blocked the law, which required government-issued photo identification to vote, in late 2011 for violating the Voting Rights Act. “The absolute number of minority citizens whose exercise of the franchise could be adversely affected by the proposed requirements runs into the tens of thousands,” wrote Tom Perez, who was then assistant attorney general for civil rights and now leads the Democratic National Committee. The Justice Department found that more than 80,000 minority registered voters in South Carolina did not have DMV-issued identification, with African Americans 20 percent more likely than whites to lack such ID.

Editorials: Russian bots are back: #WalkAway attack on Democrats is a likely Kremlin operation | Bob Cesca/Salon

little more than a year ago, I posted and pinned the following predictive tweet: “Get ready. A year from right now we’ll be up to our asses in Russian fake news, malware, hacks, mayhem aimed at the midterms. Pinning this.” Granted, it wasn’t a difficult forecast knowing what we knew at the time. Today, in addition to prior intelligence community assessments indicating that Russia attacked the presidential election with the intention of helping Donald Trump win, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has released its own verification of the intelligence community’s conclusions: “The Committee believes the conclusions of the [intelligence community assessment] are sound, and notes that collection and analysis subsequent to the ICA’s publication continue to reinforce its assessments.” The committee will continue its probe from this position. It’s also worth noting that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said publicly that the committee has “been incredibly enlightened at our ability to rebuild backwards the Steele dossier up to a certain date.” Burr and company reportedly continue to communicate with Christopher Steele’s legal representation to corroborate the remainder of the document.

Editorials: Ohio should adopt Automated Voter Registration Verification | Tray Grayson/Cincinnati Inquirer

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld Ohio’s law that allows for the removal of individuals from the voter registration rolls who have not voted for six years and who fail to respond to a mail notification confirming their address has not changed. This law has been used in Ohio by both Democratic and Republican secretaries of state since its enactment in 1993. It is similar to a procedure I followed as Kentucky’s secretary of state that was developed by my Democratic predecessor. However, at the core of this issue is the administrative struggle our nation’s election officials have faced for the last several years: keeping pace with a mobile American society. When we move, we rarely inform our local election officials, leaving millions of out-of-date voter records on file across the nation. Having accurate and secure voter registration rolls is essential to providing a smooth voting process, and it was a priority of mine while in office. Ohio now has an opportunity to further enhance its verification of voter rolls.

Editorials: Voting rights in Justice Kennedy’s Constitution | Edward Foley/SCOTUSblog

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s jurisprudence on voting rights must be understood in the context of his overall constitutional philosophy. While certainly appreciative of the role that democratic elections play as part of the republican form of government established by the Constitution — see, for example, his concurrences in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thorton (1996) and Cook v. Gralike (2001) — Kennedy did not view voting rights as having a paramount status within the pantheon of constitutional rights. Nor did Kennedy consider the protection of voting rights as legitimating the rest of the Constitution. Rather, he saw voting rights as important insofar as they were part of the Constitution. For him, it was the priority of the Constitution itself that gave voting rights their significance. The hierarchy of authority, as he saw it, ran from the Constitution to democracy, not the other way around.

Editorials: Elections in North Carolina: We must keep high standards | Chris Telesca/News & Observer

North Carolina has consistently ranked high in election integrity since we passed a tough verified voting law in 2005. But – in the name of “competition” – some folks want to take us back to the bad old days before the law was passed, when our standards were low to non-existent. We can’t let that happen. Prior to 2005 our counties used 18 different types of voting machines, vendor support was infrequent, maintenance was limited, training was sparse, and security was a joke. Each county did their own thing with ballot printing, and few complied with federal laws and standards. In 2004, we saw many election problems that came largely from decades of not having or complying with election integrity standards. We had a Florida-style meltdown in Carteret County when 5,000 votes were lost at one early voting location, which almost forced a $7.5 million statewide redo election. After the meltdown, the General Assembly in August 2005 passed the Public Confidence in Elections Act with unanimous bipartisan support. The law created statewide standards administered by the State Board of Elections.

Editorials: The Vote Leave revelations expose the vulnerability of UK democracy | Caroline Lucas/The Guardian

On Tuesday evening, the nation held its collective breath as the English football team beat Colombia on penalties to make it to the quarter-final of the world cup. Meanwhile, Vote Leave leaked news that the Electoral Commission is set to find it breached electoral law during the Brexit referendum. This is not the most obvious example of news being buried in Westminster. But it could be one of the most significant. With Britain just months from falling off a Brexit cliff edge, and with no guarantee yet in place for a people’s poll on the final deal, the disastrous consequences of failing to meet fundamental standards of democracy will be felt for generations to come.

Editorials: This Independence Day, celebrate America by defending voting rights | Alex Padilla/Orange County Register

Flags are mounted, grills are fired up and friends, family and neighbors are gathering to celebrate Independence Day across the country. We celebrate our history, our veterans and our most fundamental values of American democracy, including the right to vote. But this year, recent decisions by an ideologically split U.S. Supreme Court are putting Americans’ right to vote at risk by enabling racial and partisan gerrymandering and upholding voter suppression tactics. We are reminded that we cannot celebrate America without also defending the right to vote. Make no mistake — the Supreme Court’s assault on voting rights impacts everyone — red states, blue states, the elderly and young of any race. But the brunt of such attacks will be felt most profoundly by communities that have been historically disenfranchised — people of color and low income communities.

Editorials: Kennedy’s Retirement Could Threaten Efforts to End Partisan Gerrymandering | Michael Wines/The New York Times

For 14 years, as partisan gerrymanders across the country grew more extreme, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy came to symbolize hopes that the Supreme Court would eventually rein them in. His retirement this week did not merely dampen those hopes. Experts said it also presented a potentially crippling threat to growing efforts by voting rights advocates and Democrats to halt gerrymanders by legal and political means. Justice Kennedy was widely seen as the swing vote on gerrymandering in a court divided between liberals, who see the practice as unconstitutional, and conservatives, who regard it as a political problem, not a legal one. Indeed, he single-handedly preserved it as a judicial question, in a 2004 case involving Pennsylvania’s Legislature, when he declined to join four other justices who declared that it is impossible to determine when a political map becomes unacceptably partisan. “That no such standard has emerged in this case,” he wrote then, “should not be taken to prove that none will emerge in the future.”

Editorials: How to Solve the Redistricting Mess | Bloomberg

To adhere to a standard of “one person, one vote,” the Supreme Court requires each congressional district to contain a roughly equal number of people. The court has also ruled that gerrymandering legislative maps to dilute the power of racial minorities is unlawful (though its commitment to that view might be questioned). However, the court has avoided taking a stand on partisan gerrymanders, by which legislative maps are manipulated to give a decisive advantage to one party over another. This month, it sent claims on gerrymandered districts in several states back to lower courts. That’s unfortunate. Political gerrymanders, whether by Democrats or Republicans, undermine confidence in the political system, add to an already abundant supply of partisan rancor, and discriminate against the Americans whose votes are discounted.

Editorials: Trump will replace Kennedy with a Scalia clone. Only one thing might stop him. | Richard Hasen/Slate

Buckle up, folks. If you did not like what the Supreme Court has done in the last few weeks on voting rights, public-sector unions, and Trump’s travel ban, things are going to get a whole lot worse now that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring and with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts about to become the new swing justice. There’s precious little Democrats can do, at least in the short term, either to stop the nomination of another clone of Justice Antonin Scalia, or to stop the political benefit President Donald Trump is likely to get from such an appointment. Fixing the Supreme Court will be a long-term project. In short order, I expect President Trump to take the safe route and nominate a stellar Scalia clone. My personal expectation is that Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is a likely pick. Trump has reportedly already said he intends to select the next justice from a previously circulated list of Federalist Society–approved judges. Following the playbook used for Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, the new nominee will be a very smart (likely white male) judge with impeccable credentials who can get up in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and commit to absolutely nothing in terms of his future rulings.

Editorials: Election rigging in Pakistan | Majid Nizami/Geo.tv

The run-up to the July election is anything but smooth. Pakistan’s democratic process has been marred by crater-like pockmarks. Old wounds of rigging — discreet and indiscreet — continue to haunt those in the race. And keeping with past traditions, the chatter of electoral fraud has already made it to the lips of all those who matter. Last month, Khursheed Shah, a senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader, rejected rival Imran Khan’s 100-days plan — an outline of what Imran’s party hopes to achieve if elected to power. He further labelled it an attempt of pre-poll rigging. “A 100-days plan is declared after winning an election,” Shah told the media, “Have they already won to be making this announcement?”

Editorials: Suppression of Minority Voting Rights Is About to Get Way Worse | Richard Hasen/Slate

On Monday, five years to the day that the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, a case in which the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act with assurances that other parts of the act would still protect minority voters, the court proved those assurances false in Abbott v. Perez. In Abbott, the Roberts court on a 5–4 vote eschewed the judicial minimalism it has used to avoid other contentious issues—such as partisan gerrymandering and the clash between anti-discrimination laws and religious liberties—to contort rules limiting its own jurisdiction so that it could give states like Texas freer rein for repression of minority voting rights. The signals from Justice Neil Gorsuch, who signed onto a Clarence Thomas concurrence, show that things will only get worse going forward, especially if Justice Anthony Kennedy retires in the near future. In the time before the Supreme Court’s 2013 opinion in Shelby County, states like Texas with a history of racial discrimination in voting had to get federal approval—or “pre-clearance”—before making changes in their voting rules. To get pre-clearance, the state had to show that changes would not make minority voters worse off.

Editorials: A Counterattack on Voting Rights | David Leonhardt/The New York Times

In the suburbs of Salt Lake City, there is a planned community called Suncrest that has turned out to be a good place to study voter turnout. Suncrest feels like one community, full of modern, single-family houses. But it straddles two different counties — Salt Lake and Utah. And in 2016, the two used different voting systems. Salt Lake County switched to mail-based voting, which meant that all registered voters would receive a ballot at their home a few weeks before Election Day. They could then mail it back or drop it off at a county office. In Utah County, by contrast, residents still voted the old-fashioned way. They had to visit their local polling place, Ridgeline Elementary School, on Election Day.

Editorials: Jay Ashcroft claims voter fraud a bigger threat than hacking | The Kansas City Star

When Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft testified Wednesday in Washington about the security of America’s election systems, he made an astonishing and troubling statement. “The evidence indicates,” he said, “that voter fraud is an exponentially greater threat than hacking of election equipment.” What? Attempts to hack into America’s election systems are well-documented. The fact that they haven’t broadly succeeded, as far as we know, doesn’t mean they aren’t an imminent threat. “It’s disappointing to see this discredited fiction repeated by an election official,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center in New York. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, testifying at the same hearing, was clear. “Election security in general, and cybersecurity in particular, is the most significant threat to the integrity of our election system,” he said. He’s right.

Editorials: Erdoğan has Turkey in his palm as key elections loom | The Guardian

All along Istanbul’s boulevards, the face of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan looms large. For 16 years he has ruled over his country, victorious in election after election, vowing every time that Turkey is on the path to reclaiming its status as a great power in the Middle East and beyond. Turkey’s largest city is home to a variety of grandiose projects that channel this vision. In October, the government is scheduled to complete work on Istanbul’s third airport, which will serve 90 million passengers a year. A project to bypass the Bosphorus with new 28-mile (45km) waterway linking the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea – a project first proposed in the 16th century – will cost billions of dollars. Turkey is less than a week away from arguably its most important elections in modern history. The victor in the presidential race will assume an office with extraordinary powers, which were narrowly approved in a referendum last year, and rule until 2023 – the centennial of the republic’s founding from the ashes of the Ottoman empire.

Editorials: Less than Fundamental: The Myth of Voting Rights in America | David Schultz/International Policy Digest

There is a myth among election law experts that voting is a fundamental right in the United States. However, the Supreme Court’s recent Husted v. Philips Randolph Institute upholding Ohio’s voter purge law and Minnesota Voter Alliance v. Mansky striking down Minnesota’s political apparel ban are only the latest examples demonstrating that the right to vote in America is less than fundamental. These cases are part of the second great disenfranchisement in American politics. Like the first one after the end of Reconstruction, this one too aims to rig the election process, entrenching one set of interests in power. The story of voting rights in America is one of exceptionalism. In 1787 when the US Constitution was drafted the right to vote was absent from the text. The Constitution then (and still to this day because the Electoral College actually picks the president) did not a grant a right to vote for president. Senators were chosen by the state legislatures. While members of the House of Representatives could be selected by the people, who could vote was a matter of state law, franchise was generally limited to property-owning white males, at least 21 years old, who were citizens and members of a church or particular faith.

Editorials: The Best Way to Fix Gerrymandering Is to Make It Useless | Lee Drutman/The New York Times

In the months leading up to Monday’s Supreme Court punt on the gerrymandering cases out of Wisconsin and Maryland, those hoping the court would rein in partisan gerrymanders had been cautiously optimistic. Justice Anthony Kennedy made it known that if a “workable standard” could be found to distinguish legitimate districting from partisan gerrymandering, he might sign onto it. Reformers thought they had found that standard in something called the “efficiency gap.” But for now, with the court’s decision to not rule on the central questions the cases raise, we still lack a standard. The light is still green for state legislatures to draw maps as they please, and tempt their luck in the lower courts.