Editorials: The Case for Allowing Felons to Vote | Daniel Nichanian/The New York Times

In the 1870s, the woman’s suffrage movement claimed the right to vote by citing the new 14th Amendment’s promise that no state “shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Their opponents didn’t see it that way. “Citizenship no more carries the right to vote than it carries the power to fly to the moon,” The Rochester Union and Advertiser scoffed in an 1872 editorial. But suffragists insisted. The right to vote, they argued, cannot be carved away from citizenship. “Is the right to vote one of the privileges or immunities of citizens?” Susan B. Anthony asked in an 1873 speech. Her answer: “It is not only one of them, but the one without which all the others are nothing.”

Editorials: Election cybersecurity is a race with no finish line | Steve Simon/Pioneer Press

When people ask me to name my biggest challenge since becoming Minnesota secretary of state, I talk about the intense demands of cybersecurity. Just a few years ago, overseeing electronic defenses was merely an important part of the job. Now, it’s essential. Recently, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said publicly that he has “every expectation” that Russia will try to influence the 2018 midterm elections in November. We have a strong election system in Minnesota, and we have to protect it from cyberattack. That requires focus, time and resources. With less than a year until the next statewide general election, we owe it to all eligible voters to safeguard our system as best we can.

Editorials: So far, the effort to protect our elections simply has not been adequate | Donna Brazile/The Hill

In less than one month, voter will return to the ballot box in state primaries. As they enter polls in gymnasiums and firehouses, in community centers and churches all over this great land, voters may have a sinking feeling that it doesn’t matter how they vote because the Russians are the ones who are choosing our candidates. Unless we force our government quickly to protect us, I fear that feeling will be correct. One year ago 17 different United States intelligence agencies — people who usually don’t agree on much of anything — agreed that Russia had meddled with our 2016 presidential election. Their joint report spelled out how Putin personally ordered cyber break-ins and manipulations, and even hacked into our voting machines.

Editorials: Parkland students show why 16-year-olds should be able to vote | Joshua Douglas/CNN

The real adults in the room are the youth from Parkland, Florida, who are speaking out about the need for meaningful gun control laws. They are proving that civic engagement among young people can make a difference. The ironic part? They can’t even vote yet. Several municipalities in the United States allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections. Takoma Park, Maryland, was the first city to lower the voting age, thanks mostly to the advocacy efforts of youth themselves who convinced the city council that they should have a voice in local governance. Other cities in Maryland, like Hyattsville and Greenbelt, have followed suit. Larger cities are also debating the measure: In 2016, Berkeley, California, voters agreed to lower the voting age to 16 for school board elections, while a ballot proposition in San Francisco to lower the voting age for all city elections narrowly lost. Advocates are likely to try again in San Francisco in 2020.

Editorials: The campaign finance loophole that could make the next Russian attack perfectly legal. | Richard Hasen/Slate

The Mueller indictment of 13 Russian nationals for interfering with the 2016 U.S.
presidential election offers a remarkably detailed account of a complex plot to sow discord and influence the presidential contest in favor of Donald Trump. The indictment critically points to something else, though: It provides a roadmap for the Russians to do it all again, without violating any current campaign finance laws the next time. Paragraph 50 of the complaint demonstrates the kinds of social media ads Russian government agents paid for during the last election season. Here are two relevant examples: “Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved how evil she is,” and “Vote Republican, Vote Trump, and Support the Second Amendment!”

Editorials: The First Step to Hack-Proofing Our Elections | Michael Waldman/Politico

Top security and intelligence officials warned on Tuesday that Russia would try to interfere in the 2018 elections again, just as it did in 2016. “We need to inform the American public that this is real, that this is not going to be happening,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee. They didn’t specify how we were going to stop it, but we know there is one place we know we can start: upgrading the ramshackle, out-of-date voting equipment that is more vulnerable to hacking than newer machines.

Editorials: In the geometry of gerrymandering, the prettiest voting maps may not be the fairest | Aaron Montgomery/Cleveland Plain Dealer

After months of meetings and many rounds of discussion, Ohio legislators have finally reached an elusive compromise on the thorny subject of congressional gerrymandering. Pending approval from Ohio voters on the May ballot, Ohio’s congressional redistricting process will undergo a significant revision designed, among other things, to keep districts compact, limit splits of counties and cities, and to meaningfully involve the minority political party in the redistricting process. When I make the four-mile trip each morning from my house to my office at Baldwin Wallace University, I cross from Ohio’s 16th congressional district into the 9th district. This journey serves as a daily reminder that the redistricting process constitutes a formidable geometry problem.

Editorials: We need to hack-proof our elections. An old technology can help. | Michael Chertoff and Grover Norquist/The Washington Post

The nation’s top intelligence officers warned Congress this week that Russia is continuing its efforts to target the 2018 elections. This should come as no surprise: A few months ago, the Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states that hackers had targeted their election systems in 2016. Yet Congress still has not passed legislation to meaningfully address election cybersecurity. Time is running out. Lawmakers need to act immediately if we are to protect the 2018 and 2020 elections. … We believe there is a framework to secure our elections that can win bipartisan support, minimize costs to taxpayers and respect the constitutional balance between state and federal authorities in managing elections. In September, Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced legislation that would help solve the problem with an elegantly simple fix: paper ballots.

Editorials: The threat to voting is real. The response is in Congress’s hands. | The Washington Post

The intelligence community’s top brass made one thing clear before a Senate panel on Tuesday: “We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence, to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States,” Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said. Russia, he continued, sees its past efforts as successful “and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.” It says a lot that such truth-telling should seem remarkable. But for an administration run by a man who regularly stokes doubt about such facts, this was a refreshing dose of honesty from a group that included several of President Trump’s appointees.

Editorials: There’s another way to solve gerrymandering. It’s as simple as cake. | Wesley Pegden and Ariel D. Procaccia/The Washington Post

Once a relatively obscure phenomenon, gerrymandering is having its moment. In the past year, there have been legal challenges to election district lines in Wisconsin, Maryland, North Carolina and in our home state of Pennsylvania. Regardless of the outcome of these cases, it’s clear the methods we use to draw our political maps are broken. Where new maps are drawn by state legislatures, majority parties have few checks on their ability to shape districts as they please, creating a circular process that keeps them in power, even when winning a minority of statewide votes. One alternative is to give responsibility to independent commissions, as states such as Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana and Washington have done. But this solution hinges on having workable procedures to identify truly independent commissioners who can resist manipulation from savvy politicians.

Editorials: Why Does Trump Ignore Top Officials’ Warnings on Russia? | The New York Times

The phalanx of intelligence chiefs who testified on Capitol Hill delivered a chilling message: Not only did Russia interfere in the 2016 election, it is already meddling in the 2018 election by using a digital strategy to exacerbate the country’s political and social divisions. No one knows more about the threats to the United States than these six officials, so when they all agree, it would be derelict to ignore their concerns. Yet President Trump continues to refuse to even acknowledge the malevolent Russian role. It’s particularly striking that four of the men who gave this warning to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday — the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo; the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats; the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray; and the Defense Intelligence Agency director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley — were all appointed by Mr. Trump. They testified that the president has never asked them to take measures to combat Russian interference and protect democratic processes.

Editorials: With Russia set to attack our elections again, Pennsylvania needs to replace aging voting machines so people can have faith in the vote | LNP

Last week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered counties planning to replace their electronic voting systems to purchase machines that provide a paper trail. Paper trails serve as a safeguard against hacking and make audits of the vote easier. But as The Associated Press noted, the governor’s “budget doesn’t include any money to fund the replacement of the state’s aging, increasingly vulnerable fleet” of voting machines. The AP reported that the Wolf administration “said in a statement later Friday that it’s working on a comprehensive overhaul of Pennsylvania’s election apparatus, including its voter registration database.” Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential elections, and it will try to do so again in this year’s congressional elections. That was the unanimous assessment delivered by our nation’s intelligence chiefs to a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. So Gov. Wolf is absolutely correct in seeking to protect our voting systems. Pennsylvania — the birthplace of American democracy — should lead the way in protecting the vote.

Editorials: Russians hacked the 2016 election. Looks like Republicans will let them do it again | Robin Kelly/Miami Herald

For more than a year, Americans, Congress and the world have discussed Russia’s attempts to influence our elections. However, some of their most dangerous and well-documented attacks against state-level voting systems have been a mere footnote. That needs to change, and change fast. Let’s start with the facts and when we learned them. In the summer of 2016, the FBI disclosed that Arizona’s and Illinois’ online voter registration databases had been successfully breached. Come September 2016, we learned that at least 20 states had been attacked. We now know that 21 states were attacked and/or breached: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Editorials: Ireland was ahead of the curve on hacking | Kathy Sheridan/The Irish Times

Opinion writers stand accused of undue negativity, so make way for a few heart-lifting positives. Well-thumbed physical election registers. Paper ballots. Stubby pencils. Interminable counts surveyed by gimlet-eyed tallymen and women. That’s our fabulously antiquated voting system and it stands up well. Last week, by contrast, Americans learned that the electronic voting systems of 21 states were targeted by Russian hackers in 2016 and some had been “actually successfully penetrated”, in the words of the US head of cybersecurity. The targeting may have been exploratory probes for system vulnerabilities to be exploited later, say experts, pointing to the crumbling US digital voting apparatus. In other words, the 2016 hackers could look like plankton compared with the shark attacks expected around the forthcoming mid-term elections, with their potential to rebalance power in America.

Editorials: Ohio’s redistricting fight suggests how principles and politics can mesh | Thomas Suddes/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Yes, the legislature’s approval of a proposed reform of congressional “redistricting” (Substitute Senate Joint Resolution 5) was a good thing. But make no mistake: Inside the General Assembly, good government takes a back seat to self-interest. Ohioans will vote SJR 5 up or down on May 8. SJR 5 is a good if not perfect plan. Every single state senator present for last week’s Senate vote on SJR 5, Republicans and Democrats alike, voted for SJR 5. The Senate tally was 31-0. The House’s count was 83-10. As Statehouse bystanders noted, the legislature likely wouldn’t have passed SJR 5 but for the extraordinary work of the non-partisan Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition, paced by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio. The coalition’s been gathering signatures to place its redistricting reform plan on November’s ballot – and aims to do just that if voters don’t ratify SJR 5 in May. 

Editorials: Election audits should be the rule, not the exception in Wisconsin | Karen McKim/WiscNews

We use many computers in our daily business — ATMs, grocery scanners and more. Government uses computers to track our drivers’ licenses, calculate our property tax bills and more. But concerns about hacking focus only on the computers that count our votes. Ever wonder why that is? Voting machines are no riskier than any other computer. We insert a deposit into an ATM and expect the computer to credit the dollars to the right account. We insert a ballot into a voting machine and expect the computer to credit the votes to the right candidates. Before each election, Wisconsin’s clerks practice the same sort of safeguards that are routine elsewhere. Like bankers with their ATMs, they practice the best security they can. They test the equipment before putting it into use.

Editorials: The best safeguard against election hacking | Brian Klaas/The Washington Post

This week, the U.S. government confirmed that Russian hackers infiltrated voting systems in several states, having targeted 21 of them. While there is currently no evidence suggesting any votes were changed, a hostile foreign power did gain access to voter registration databases — the vital foundation of election integrity. After all, if you control who can and cannot vote, you control a democracy. America’s foolish experiment with digital voting processes must end. The Kremlin — or other hostile foreign actors — will certainly strike again. It’s time for good old-fashioned paper to make a comeback. Researchers at Princeton University have shown that they can pick the lock on voting machines in seven seconds. In minutes, they could have replaced the machine’s chip with a malicious one, ensuring that voters who voted for candidate A were recorded as having voted for candidate B. Thankfully, their demonstrations were just for research. But they could have been real.

Editorials: U.S. Supreme Court casts wary view on gerrymandering | WRAL

If there was any doubt that state Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, redistricting czars Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise and others in the North Carolina legislature’s Republican leadership are marching to the beat of a drummer only they can hear, the U.S. Supreme Court offered loud and clear evidence Monday. We can only hope the message made it through to Berger and his gang. Justice Samuel Alito turned down a request from the state’s Republicans to delay redrawing congressional district lines. He said GOP legislative leaders in Pennsylvania violated the state constitution by unfairly favoring Republicans.

Editorials: As Vladimir Putin steals the Russian election, our leaders are shamefully silent | Simon Tisdall/The Guardian

Russia will vote in presidential elections next month that Vladimir Putin is certain to win. Consider that statement for a moment. An election implies a contest. So how can the current president, who has already served three terms and wielded power in the Kremlin continuously since 1999, be assured of victory in advance? The answer is that Russia’s is an election in name only. In truth it is a sham and a smokescreen, designed to confer democratic respectability on to a corrupt oligarchy. For Russians accustomed to unaccountable rule from on high, this is nothing new. More surprising is the supine acquiescence, bordering on complicity, of western democracies. Putin will win on 18 March because the system he created, politely known as “managed democracy”, removes all elements of surprise. His most credible challenger, Alexei Navalny (who in any case did not expect to win), has been banned from participation on specious legal grounds. Last month Navalny was arrested while urging an election boycott.

Editorials: Taking a strong stance to protect election integrity | Brad Schneider and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen/The Hill

By now, there is no disputing that Russia launched a targeted campaign on orders of Vladimir Putin to interfere in our most recent national elections. Our intelligence community agrees that Russia hacked political campaign committees and leaked stolen documents, used a sophisticated social media network of bots to spread misinformation and influence voters, and targeted dozens of state election systems for sensitive voter data, including in Illinois and Florida. This meddling is nothing short of a grievous attack aimed at the very foundation of our democratic system. As with any other attack by a hostile foreign government, Russia’s actions demand a serious response to hold our attackers accountable. The United States must take strong, corrective measures to protect the integrity of our elections and also deter any future attempts to interfere in our electoral process. This is a bipartisan concern, and indeed, a concern for all Americans. That is why we partnered together to introduce the House companion to a bill by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act – H.R. 4884.

Editorials: Fighting hackers with vetted outsiders the best way to secure midterm elections | Mark Kuhr/The Hill

In the midterm elections set to take place later this year, all 435 seats in the house, 33 seats in the Senate and a number of local and state elections will be contested. Regardless of how the elections shake out, the most important factor in the election is the security of the process. If the past few years fraught with election hacking around the globe serve as an any indicator, we should be skeptical of what might happen. The voting process of the United States, and no doubt countries around the world, is inadequately equipped to defend against professional cyberattack attempts. Ethical hackers hacked a WINVote machine during the DEFCON conference last year in Las Vegas, and it took only a few minutes to hack into and tamper with votes and voter information. So, how do we go about protecting ourselves against these attacks and ensuring secure elections for the future? We should utilize hackers that have been vetted for trust and skill to test these critical assets in a controlled and managed environment.

Editorials: Ecuador bucks the authoritarian trend | The Washington Post

Rafael Correa, like Vladi­mir Putin, Hugo Chávez and other authoritarian rulers, found himself stymied by term limits. So in 2015, the Ecuadoran president persuaded his legislature to lift a ceiling of two presidential terms by promising not to run in 2017. His idea was to install a follower for four years and then return to power, as Mr. Putin once did. Then, on Sunday, came a much-deserved comeuppance: Ecuadoran voters, prompted by Mr. Correa’s own successor, voted overwhelmingly to restore a two-term presidential limit, thus blocking the planned second act. It was a victory for democracy not just in Ecuador but also in a region where numerous rulers have sought to entrench themselves in power.

Editorials: Secure elections protect our democracy | Martin Heinrich and Maggie Toulouse Oliver/Santa Fe New Mexican

Americans’ ability to fairly choose our own leaders is fundamental to our democracy. Given what we know about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, we must do everything we can at both the federal and state levels to protect the security and integrity of our election systems before voters go to the polls this year. While the Senate Intelligence Committee continues investigating the full extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, American intelligence assessments have already established that Russia hacked presidential campaign accounts, launched cyberattacks against at least 21 state election systems and attacked a U.S. voting systems software company. Although there is no evidence that the Russian activity changed vote tallies on Election Day, these intrusions demonstrate a clear vulnerability that foreign hackers will try to exploit in upcoming elections.

Editorials: North Carolina has the worst gerrymander in US history. What else is new? | Gene Nichol/News & Observer

In mid-January, yet again, a three-judge federal court ruled the redistricting work of the North Carolina General Assembly to be a knowing, intentional and hugely impactful violation of the U.S. Constitution. This time the court struck down the apportionment of our federal congressional districts as an impermissible, extreme, partisan political gerrymander – designed, admittedly and successfully, to entrench Republicans in power and handicap their adversaries. The state yawned. We’re used to it. Rick Hasen, a professor at California-Irvine, is often said to be the nation’s leading election law expert. Hasen wrote that the decision could hardly be seen as a surprise, given what our legislature did. “If there is any case that could be invalidated as a partisan gerrymander, it is this one,” he indicated. It is “the most brazen and egregious” political electoral distortion yet seen in the United States. North Carolina leaders “admitted the practice, but argued it should be seen as perfectly legal.”

Editorials: The state of voting rights in America | Debo P. Adegbile/News & Observer

The vote is the most powerful tool in a democracy. To harness its full power however, voting must be accessible, protected and broadly exercised. In his award-winning history of voting in America, Professor Alexander Keyssar explains that American democracy is contested. He traces the history of the vote from the revolutionary period to contemporary times and shows that our nation, conceived in democratic ideals, has expanded the franchise only gradually and with the concerted efforts of those demanding access to the vote, and through it, to meaningful inclusion within the nation’s political life.

Editorials: Justice Alito prepares an attack on state sovereignty over voting rights | Mark Stern/Slate

The Supreme Court’s conservative bloc may be preparing an attack on state sovereignty in order to maintain a Republican gerrymander through the 2018 midterms. Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated the state’s current congressional map, ruling that it favored the GOP in violation of the state constitution and ordering a new, nonpartisan map. Republican legislative leaders asked Justice Samuel Alito, who reviews emergency appeals out of Pennsylvania, to block the decision. Because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision involved only state law, Alito should’ve denied the request outright. Instead, he has ordered voting rights advocates to respond, raising the real possibility that a majority of the justices will vote to halt the ruling. If they do, the intervention will mark an extraordinary expansion of the court’s power to prevent states from protecting their residents’ voting rights.

Editorials: No conspiracy in paper voting | The Covington News

As could be expected in an election year, a proposal to overhaul the state’s method of voting is getting bogged down in politics. But it shouldn’t, because this is too important. For background: Georgia uses 16-year-old touchscreen technology for its elections. The machines are powered by Windows 2000, which Microsoft doesn’t even support anymore. And there are always questions about the lack of a paper trail. Votes are recorded on data packs, which can be run through a machine again, but without seeing a voter’s actual ballot, there’s going to be a question of whether tampering might have happened.

Editorials: The Supreme Court’s Elections Clause dilemma in Pennsylvania | Lyle Denniston/Constitution Daily

The Constitution has had an Elections Clause since it first went into effect in 1789, but the Supreme Court has rarely given an interpretation of its meaning. But what the Supreme Court has said creates a dilemma for the Justices as they decide soon what to do about the claim that Pennsylvania’s state legislature engaged in partisan gerrymandering when it drew up election districts for choosing the state’s 18 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican legislative leaders in the state have asked the Justices to put on hold, and then review, a decision earlier this month by the state Supreme Court that the 2011 congressional map was a partisan-driven effort and that it violates the state constitution.   The voters and political organizations that won the case in the state’s highest court have been told to file by Friday a reply to the request for a postponement of the ruling at issue. The state GOP leaders’ first hurdle will be to persuade five of the nine Justices to grant a postponement.  But an even bigger hurdle is to persuade the Justices that the Supreme Court should get involved in second-guessing the state court’s interpretation of its own constitution. 

Editorials: The real purpose of Russia’s presidential election | Stephen Blank/The Interpreter

Vladimir Putin’s election to a fourth term as President of Russia on 18 March is a foregone conclusion. Nobody can remotely consider Russia’s presidential election to be democratic, whatever Putin and his defenders might say. Seeing as it is obviously a sham and a travesty, one might ask why bother to hold an election at all? This is because in Putin’s Russia, the outcome of an election is not nearly as important as the conditions under which it occurs. Russian elections are really ritualised forms of political participation directed towards creating the illusion of a sustaining and legitimating mass basis of support for the regime. Thus Putin is very intent on not only winning 70% of the votes cast – since directives to regional bosses to arrange this figure were sent out long ago – but also on obtaining a turnout of more than 70% of eligible voters. By achieving this 70–70 formula, Putin and the regime can pretend to fulfil the electoral ritual and furnish it with the illusion of legitimacy.

Editorials: The courts may address partisan gerrymandering. Virginia and Maryland, take note. | The Washington Post

Courts have historically shied away from striking down redistricting plans for fear of showing favor to one party in a process that is inherently political. But recent decisions by state and federal judges in North Carolina and Pennsylvania suggest that the judicial branch thinks partisan gerrymandering has gone too far and needs to stop. We hope lawmakers in Maryland and Virginia are paying attention and that those decisions serve as a trigger for them to overhaul how their states’ legislative and congressional districts are drawn.