Editorials: Russia is going to attack our next election. The Trump administration may not even try to stop it. | Paul Waldman/The Washington Post

The Russians are coming for our elections — to disrupt them, to discredit them, and even to affect their outcome. They’ll be coming in 2018, and in 2020. The trouble is that even if we figure out what they’re up to, our own government may be unable or unwilling to stop it. That’s the conclusion one has to come to upon reading reports like this new one from Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Jaffe, which describes how powerless the federal government has been and continues to be in the face of an ongoing war that Vladimir Putin is waging against U.S. democracy. It was hard enough to resist when the executive branch wanted to resist it; who knows how hard it will become as President Trump feels more politically threatened by upcoming elections and Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in 2016.

Editorials: Ohio redistricting reform can work – if the rules are tight | Cleveland Plain Dealer

The General Assembly appears poised to propose bipartisan changes in how Ohio draws congressional districts. Good. Ohioans are fed up with the toxic congressional gridlock that results in part from U.S. House districts drawn to protect incumbents, a process that also can yield extreme partisan representation. The determination by Ohio legislators to reshape redistricting is a sign of progress, but, to be adequate, a legislative plan must have genuine safeguards. These include ironclad requirements for districts that are compact and fair, keeping communities as intact as possible. And to win support, a legislative plan must have full bipartisan buy-in, including over federally required protections for Ohio’s African-American voters.

Editorials: Georgia’s Election System Can’t Be Trusted | Richard DeMillo/Bloomberg

It occurred to me earlier this month, as security guards muscled me away from the doors behind which North Fulton County election officials were downloading vote totals, that the reason I don’t trust Georgia’s election system is that the people who run it act like they have something to hide. Georgia’s aging, vulnerable, unverifiable, mismanaged, electronic voting machines are famously insecure. They’ve been hacked dozens of times, most recently at last summer’s DEFCON 25 Hacker convention in Las Vegas, where a group with little experience in voting technology gained complete control over how Georgia’s voting machines register and store votes. Even the tech center that manages state machines has been breached. It was discovered in March 2017 that sensitive voter data, passwords and software had been exposed to possibly millions of unauthorized users. Despite agreement among U.S. intelligence services that Russian hacking represents a severe threat, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has shown little interest in election security, dismissing threats as “fake news.” Yet those aren’t the main reasons I mistrust the system.

Editorials: Automatic Voter Registration: A Solution to Voter Suppression? | Josh Berry/Harvard Political Review

On a quiet Mississippi road, one evening in June 1964, a gang of Ku Klux Klansmen attacked three workers canvassing with the Congress of Racial Equality. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, all under 25, had volunteered their summers to register African Americans throughout Mississippi to vote after decades of suppression by Jim Crow laws. The next morning, police discovered their burned-out car in a ditch; the three young civil rights advocates were reported missing. Five weeks later, their mutilated bodies were discovered 15 feet underground on a nearby farm.

Editorials: Native voting — a step in the right direction | Derrick J. Lente/Santa Fe New Mexican

Sometimes progress is slow. That much is clear when you consider Native Americans could not vote in New Mexico until 1948. That’s less than 70 years ago. Natives have faced an uphill battle when it comes to gaining access to the voting booth since the dawn of New Mexico’s statehood. Written in 1912, the state’s Constitution didn’t merely fail to provide voting rights to Native Americans — it explicitly prohibited them. Today Native Americans have the right to vote, but the historical barriers to voting have left a lasting imprint, as evidenced by the fact that voter turnout among Native American populations is typically lower than it is for the rest of the electorate.

Editorials: Ohio lawmakers may be trying to keep redistricting power in-house with latest reform effort | Thomas Suddes/Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Ohio General Assembly is heading home for Christmas, but not before signaling one of its likely 2018 priorities: “reform” in congressional districting. True, the legislature’s first and foremost task is getting re-elected, which means slipping special-interest legislation past voters while ballyhooing motherhood and patriotism. But General Assembly members of both parties are said to now agree it’s high time for Ohio to change how it draws its (currently ridiculous) congressional districts. Today’s districts, in politically closely divided Ohio, send 12 Republicans and just four Democrats as Ohio’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. Ohio GOP leaders say bipartisan deal close for congressional redistricting reform.

Editorials: Is the Supreme Court finally ready to tackle partisan gerrymandering? Signs suggest yes | Richard Hasen/Los Angeles Times

Is the Supreme Court about to cause great political upheaval by getting into the business of policing the worst partisan gerrymanders? Signs from last week suggest that it well might. At the very beginning of its term back in October, the court heard oral arguments in Gill vs. Whitford, a case challenging Wisconsin’s plan for drawing districts for its state Assembly. Republican legislators drew the lines to give them a great advantage in these elections. Even when Democrats won more than majority of votes cast in the Assembly elections, Republicans controlled about 60% of the seats. The court has for many years refused to police such gerrymandering. Conservative justices suggested that the question was “nonjusticiable” (meaning the cases could not be heard by the courts) because there were no permissible standards for determining when partisanship in drawing district lines went too far. Liberals came forward with a variety of tests. And Justice Anthony M. Kennedy stood in the middle, as he often does. He argued that all the tests liberals proposed didn’t work, while trying to keep the courthouse door open for new tests.

Editorials: The Alabama Senate Race May Have Already Been Decided | Scott Douglas/The New York Times

The Senate election in Alabama on Tuesday is not just about the choice between Doug Jones and Roy Moore. It’s also about a voter suppression campaign that may well sway the result of a close race. In 2011, Alabama lawmakers passed a photo ID law, ostensibly to combat voter fraud. But “voter impersonation” at polling places virtually never happens. The truth is that the lawmakers wanted to keep black and Latino voters from the ballot box. We know this because they’ve always been clear about their intentions. A state senator who had tried for over a decade to get the bill into law, told The Huntsville Times that a photo ID law would undermine Alabama’s “black power structure.” In The Montgomery Advertiser, he said that the absence of an ID law “benefits black elected leaders.”

Editorials: Stop the Manipulation of Democracy Online | The New York Times

Surreptitious techniques pioneered in Moscow and Beijing to use the internet to drown out dissent and undermine free elections broke into view during the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States. But Russian efforts to influence the American election are part of a larger, profound challenge to democracy worldwide. Online manipulation tactics played an important role in at least 17 other elections over the past year. From the Philippines and Ecuador to Turkey and Kenya, governing parties used paid commentators, trolls, bots, false news sites and propaganda outlets to inflate their popular support and essentially endorse themselves. In the Philippines, members of a “keyboard army” said they could earn $10 a day operating social media accounts that supported Rodrigo Duterte or attacked his detractors in the run-up to his May 2016 election as president. Many of those social media fabricators have remained active under his administration, amplifying the impression of widespread support for his brutal crackdown on the drug trade.

Editorials: Ohio must take steps to secure elections | Kathleen Clyde/The Toledo Blade

Computer hacks and cybersecurity threats have been in the news a lot lately. Millions of Americans’ data were breached in the Equifax hack and a huge number of accounts were compromised at Yahoo. Worse than those reports, it was recently confirmed that Ohio was one of the 21 states reported on over the summer whose systems hackers attempted to breach in the lead up to the 2016 election. Foreign interference with our elections and the electronic machinery they run on is one of the biggest cyber threats we face because it’s a matter of national security. Our enemies want to create chaos at best and change outcomes of our elections at worst. It’s a direct attack on our society, the American way of life, and our ability to self-govern.

Editorials: Paperless voting leaves South Carolina vulnerable | Greg Summers/The Lancaster News

South Carolina is one of only five states whose voting machines create no paper trail that could be used to reconstruct the balloting if hackers found a way to change votes in an election. The state has used its touch-screen system since 2004, when Congress spent $4 billion to upgrade systems across the country. That eliminated punch-card systems like the one plagued by “hanging chads” in the crucial Florida recount of the 2000 Bush-Gore race. Lancaster County Elections Director Mary Ann Hudson, whose office has 190 of the paperless machines, is concerned about the dated equipment. “I doubt any of us would wait that long to replace our personal smartphones and computers,” Hudson said. “When you have a system as old as ours, you have to start thinking about possible options.” In the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, many states are upgrading their machines and electoral databases and adding cybersecurity measures to assure the integrity of the voting process.

Editorials: Virginia’s House election is irreparably tainted | The Washington Post

The mystery of how, why and by whom a few hundred Northern Virginians were registered to vote in the wrong state legislative districts in this fall’s elections does not look as though it will be resolved soon. For one thing, the registrar who might have been able to shed some light on the issue died last spring. The more pressing question is what to do about the razor-thin result in one of the districts, on which partisan control of the state House of Delegates may hinge. Short answer: A federal judge now reviewing the mess should order a do-over. That would be an unusual recourse for the race in the 28th House District, including parts of Stafford County and Fredericksburg, where Republican Robert Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes. It would also be warranted.

Editorials: Manual recount needed to ensure valid election results in Virginia | Marian Schneider/The Virginian-Pilot

If Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race appeared heated, the post-election drama around the state’s House of Delegates race is reaching its boiling point. Virginia’s State Board of Elections certified the results on Nov. 27, despite its inability to confidently verify votes due to anomalies with the ballots. After the board certified the results, candidates in four races filed petitions for recounts in Virginia circuit courts. The outcome in these tight races will determine control of the House of Delegates. Despite the recount petitions, unless the recount is conducted manually, an unacceptable level of risk of error in the count can cast a pall over the outcome. The margin of victory is so close that only a manual recount can truly ascertain the voter’s intent.

Editorials: With democracy under attack, it’s time to protect American elections | A. Scott Bolden/The Hill

From freedom of the press to separation of powers, the years-long erosion of America’s democratic institutions has many voicing their concerns. As the country gears up for elections in 2018 and 2020, it’s time to restore faith in a bedrock principle of American politics that is under serious threat: reliable election results and the peaceful transference of power. Controversies surrounding the 2016 election gave people across the political spectrum reason to distrust the integrity of America’s democratic process. President Trump undermined our elections during his final days as a candidate, when he claimed that if he lost to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, it could be the result of a widespread conspiracy. Mounting evidence of Russian interference, disinformation campaigns, and collusion with the Trump campaign has given many who oppose the president reason to doubt the election results as well.

Editorials: In Pennsylvania gerrymander case, experts can’t defend the indefensible | Nicholas Stephanopoulos/Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania is no stranger to partisan gerrymandering disputes. In a blockbuster 2004 case, the Supreme Court declined to strike down the congressional map then in effect. The court didn’t quite hold that the map was lawful; rather, it couldn’t think of a workable standard for evaluating the map’s validity. Another gerrymandering suit is now making its way through the Pennsylvania courts, with a decision expected by the end of the year. But unlike its predecessor, this suit is based on a manageable test as well as a mountain of damning evidence. Perhaps for this reason, it has thoroughly flummoxed the state’s lawyers and experts.

Editorials: New Hampshire Republicans want to impose a poll tax on college students | Mark Joseph Stern/Slate

The 2016 election was a bittersweet one for the New Hampshire Republican Party. The GOP won unified control of the state government, but Hillary Clinton carried the state and Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan squeaked out a narrow victory. Donald Trump alleged that voters bused in illegally from Massachusetts tipped the state away from him, a claim endorsed by GOP state legislators despite a total lack of evidence. Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the head of Trump’s voter fraud commission, has also falsely claimed to have “proof” that thousands of illegal votes tipped the 2016 election toward Democrats. In response, New Hampshire Republicans have initiated a crackdown on voting rights designed to suppress likely Democratic voters.

Editorials: I’m on Trump’s voter fraud commission. I’m suing it to find out what it’s doing. | Matthew Dunlap/The Washington Post

On Nov. 9, I filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Washington, seeking to obtain the working documents, correspondence and schedule of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. What’s remarkable about my lawsuit is that I’m a member of the commission, and apparently this is the only way I can find out what we’re doing. The commission was formed in May to answer monster-under-the-bed questions about “voter fraud,” but the implicit rationale for its creation appears to be to substantiate President Trump’s unfounded claims that up to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016. Chaired by Vice President Pence, the commission has the chance to answer questions about potential fraud and to highlight best practices to enhance voter confidence in our election systems. Yet it isn’t doing that. Instead, the commission is cloaking itself in secrecy, completely contrary to federal law. Recommendations for changes in public policy — whether you agree with them or not — ought to come through an open, public discussion where any American can weigh in.

Editorials: For a better Pennsylvania: voting reforms | John Baer/Philadelphia Inquirer

Here’s the dilemma. Reform begins at the ballot box. But what if access to the ballot itself needs reform? Such is the case in Pennsylvania. If, for example, you’re an independent or third-party voter – and there are more than 1.1 million of you – you can’t vote for candidates in primary elections. … We’re a “closed primary state” – one of only nine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This is wrong on its face. It helps protect the political status quo. It disenfranchises citizens, even while using their tax dollars to pay for elections in which those citizens can’t participate. And it’ll get worse as more (especially younger) voters step away from the two major parties. In Philadelphia, for example, independents and third-party voters now total 117,800 – outnumbering registered Republicans.

Editorials: Florida should not deny ex-felons, including veterans, the right to vote | Col. Mike Pheneger/Miami Herald

More than 1.2 million Floridians are barred from voting because of a prior felony conviction — even though they have completed their sentences. That includes thousands of military veterans who have served our country. Each year about 60,000 Floridians finish their prison sentences or probation. In recent years, about 6 percent (approximately 3,600) were veterans. In the past, the percentage was higher — 8 percent in 2007; 11 percent in 1997. In 1978, in the wake of the Vietnam War, the national figure was 24 percent.

Editorials: Electronic voting infrastructure must become more resilient against attacks | Mark Peters/The Hill

Cybersecurity for elections has been in the news a lot lately. There have been proposals for new cybersecurity efforts for election systems. There have been demonstrations of hacking voting machines. However, we’ve been missing a crucial point: election equipment cannot be made completely secure. Given that well-defended systems in other fields still suffer cybersecurity breaches, we should assume that well-secured election infrastructure will sometimes be compromised by hackers. Therefore, it is imperative that we enhance the resiliency of our election systems and processes so that they provide accurate election results even if the equipment used for registration, voting, results reporting, or other parts of the election process have been successfully hacked.

Editorials: You can’t hack paper ballots | Paul Campbell/Buffalo Reflex

Recently in this column I wrote about the problems with a cashless society, and today I am talking about the hazards of a paperless voting system. I’m sure this looks to some like I am anti-technology, but I’m not. All technologies — from television sets to the Internet — have their downsides, and these should be explored as objectively as possible. Everyone should read an excellent article on this subject in the December issue of The Atlantic magazine. The story, by Jill Leovy, is about Barbara Simons, 76, who has been an ardent fan of paper ballots for the past two decades. Just about everybody, including the League of Women Voters and the ACLU, passed her off as a crackpot for years. In the aftermath of the alleged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, however, the guardians of our voting system are taking a second look at Simons’ ideas. It should be noted that Simons, now retired, was a computer engineer for decades.

Editorials: Wisconsin Assembly Bill Runs Afoul of Federal Court Decision Protecting Early Voting | One Wisconsin Institute

A public hearing on Assembly Bill 637 today underscores serious flaws in the proposal that put it at odds with a federal court decision protecting early voting. Under the the bill municipalities would be allowed to use electronic voting machines to process early votes. But additional provisions would require different processes for counting early votes depending on where the vote is cast and re-impose restrictions on dates and times of early voting to eliminate weekend and some evening hours.

Editorials: The Cyber Attacks on Democracy | Juan C. Zarate/InsideSources

The investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election continue to reveal a full-scale assault on American democracy. From sophisticated social media efforts and traditional information operations to attempted hacks of voter rolls and state electoral systems, the Russians engaged in a campaign to undermine American democracy. This is not the only time they have engaged in such activity. In countries like the Netherlands, Ukraine and France, the Russians have used influence operations to affect political campaigns and candidates, and to attack perceived opponents of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and support those more sympathetic to Russian interests. The Russians have decided to do this to achieve three complementary goals. They want to undermine faith and confidence in democracy and its institutions from within; exacerbate social and political divisions advantageous to Russian interests; and obfuscate or confuse the truth and amplify narratives that align with Russian interests, even when patently false.

Editorials: A district judge might be handing Trump a chance to supercharge voter suppression | Richard Hasen/Slate

This could be a very bad week for voting rights in the United States. On Friday, a federal consent decree to stop potential voter suppression by the Republican National Committee—in place since 1982—is set to expire unless further extended by a federal district court in New Jersey. What happens next, with Donald Trump in charge of the Republican Party, will likely not be pretty. In 1981, the Democratic National Committee sued the RNC over its rival’s “ballot security” measures, which the Democrats alleged were aimed at suppressing minority voters.

Editorials: Louisiana needs to find a better way to draw electoral districts | The Advocate

A grassroots group, Fair Districts Louisiana, is helping to host a conference at LSU in January on the problem of politically gerrymandered district lines for Congress, the Legislature and other bodies. We need ideas for a better process. In Louisiana, as in most other states, the Legislature determines the electoral districts for congressional, state House and state Senate seats. The maps have prompted lawsuits in several states, amid growing criticism that political parties are using legislative control to give themselves unfair advantages.

Editorials: Allowing ballot audits preserves integrity far better than disenfranchising voters | The Keene Sentinel

Earlier this year, the GOP-led Legislature was quick to jump on the notion that our state’s elections are a fragile, vulnerable thing in need of shoring up. Their answer, backed by Gov. Chris Sununu, was to make it harder for new voters to cast their ballots. It was a transparent attempt to limit voting by those who might be more likely to vote Democrat — the poor; new Massachusetts transplants; and, most of all, college students. And their effort — Senate Bill 3 — is being challenged in the courts. At the same time, lawmakers made clear they don’t really value the integrity of our state’s elections, by killing in committee a bill to authorize local moderators to conduct verification recounts of machine-counted ballots. Senate Bill 109 couldn’t have been any simpler. It would have added a paragraph of language to existing election law saying local moderators have the discretion to conduct recounts to verify machine results.

Editorials: With court cases looming, the fight over voting rights will only intensify | Carl P. Leubsdorf/Dallas Morning News

In the coming weeks, high federal courts will hear important cases challenging two ways Republicans have sought since Barack Obama’s election as president to restrict voting of Democratic-leaning groups. They come at a time when efforts initially focused on restrictive voter-identification laws in Texas and other GOP-controlled states have broadened to include purging voter rolls of people who hadn’t lately voted and limiting early voting in areas with large minority populations. In early December, a federal appeals court will hear the latest version of the long-pending Texas voter ID law. In January, the Supreme Court, which is already considering a Wisconsin case challenging political redistricting, will hear an Ohio case that could produce a crucial legal judgment on the ability of state officials to purge voter rolls.

Editorials: Texas needs to be prepared for more election hack attempts | San Antonio Express-News

The reasons remain unclear, but Russian-linked hackers targeted two Texas agencies during the 2016 presidential election. The hackers never accessed networks for the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Library and State Archives Commission, but the search for vulnerabilities by a foreign government is deeply disturbing. The Department of Homeland Security has included Texas in a group of 21 states that Russian hackers targeted during the run-up to the election. Just why DPS or the state’s library archive would be election targets is unclear. Although a Homeland Security official told Express-News reporter Allie Morris that in general terms, the hackers may have been looking for network vulnerabilities that could later be exploited in election systems. In other words, this might have been something akin to a practice run.

Editorials: What is Trump’s voter fraud commission hiding? | Bangor Daily News

How bogus is President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission? One of the group’s own members, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, has filed a lawsuit to get more information about what the panel is doing since no one is telling him, or other Democratic members. It is one of many lawsuits filed against the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. In his lawsuit, Dunlap contends that the commission is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which seeks to prevent groups like the election advisory commission from being used to advance partisan objectives under the guises of a balanced review. The act says that the membership of advisory committees must be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented.” In addition, commission materials must be available to all members. Dunlap’s suit alleges that only some commission members are preparing materials and then those materials are not shared with the entire commission, which includes seven Republicans and four Democrats. Materials, which Dunlap and other commission members have not previously seen, have been presented at commission meetings, where it is clear that other members have participated in writing them.

Editorials: Did Donald Trump Jr. Cross the Line With WikiLeaks? | Matt Ford/The Atlantic

Donald Trump Jr.’s private exchanges with WikiLeaks on Twitter during the 2016 campaign raise a host of new questions about the Trump team’s communications with foreign entities before the election. But the messages alone don’t appear to cross any clear-cut legal lines. “I certainly didn’t see anything that looks like a smoking gun in the descriptions that we were given,” Rick Hasen, a University of California, Irvine, law professor who specializes in election law, told me. My colleague Julia Ioffe reported Monday that Trump Jr. exchanged multiple private messages on Twitter with the radical transparency organization before the election. In some cases, Trump Jr. appeared to act on requests from the group. In one instance, for example, he tweeted a link it had sent his way. A message posted by his father’s account soon after the group contacted Trump Jr. also mentioned WikiLeaks. The messaging, which WikiLeaks initiated during the election and continued as recently as July, was not previously known to the public. #url#