Editorials: Redistricting ‘reform’ brought to you by Ohio GOP leaders scared of a ballot issue | Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Ohio General Assembly’s Republican leadership is trundling out a time-tested Statehouse response to demands for congressional redistricting reform: Deflect, divert, stall – and, if that fails, confect a purported “reform” of its own, which would be anything but. This time, though, the GOP’s legislative leaders may be running scared. A voter-initiated plan, Fair Districts = Fair Ballots, likely will gather enough voter signatures to reach November 2018’s statewide ballot. Maybe sooner, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a recently argued Wisconsin case, could put the kibosh on grotesquely partisan congressional districts such as those our GOP-run legislature has inflicted on Ohio.

Editorials: Does the anti-gerrymandering campaign threaten minority voting rights? | Michael Li and Laura Royden/Vox

When Pennsylvania Democrats went to the Supreme Court in 2004 to ask that Pennsylvania’s GOP-drawn congressional map be struck down as an unfair partisan gerrymander, they drew opposition from an unexpected source: fellow Democrats. Alabama Democrats told the court in a brief they were concerned that ending partisan gerrymandering would “undermine … the ability of African Americans in Alabama to continue the effective exercise of their newly won ability to participate in the political process.” In 2001, they pointed out, “African-American representatives pulled, hauled, and traded with their white colleagues” to achieve greater representation. In short, political gerrymandering — in which it was taken for granted that Democrats sought an advantage — helped maximize the voice of African Americans.

Editorials: Referendums: Yes or No? – When is it a referendum, and when is it a plebiscite? | Neal Ascherson/The New York Review of Books

Last week brought two passionate and dramatic popular votes for independence, in Iraqi Kurdistan and in Catalonia, Spain. Everyone, even those who dismissed both votes as illegal and meaningless, called them “referendums.” But were they? In practice, the two terms—”referendum” and “plebiscite”—are hopelessly tangled.   My young friend Joan (a male name in his country) has just voted Yes to the question “Should Catalonia become an independent republic?” He emails me: “I casted [sic] my ballot with watering eyes,” and a photo shows him smiling in order to hold back tears as he puts his vote in the box. This he calls a referendum. My late, far older friend Willy, who was a German schoolboy in 1921, got a French bayonet in his backside during a plebiscite. Germany and the resurrected Polish state were both claiming the coal and steel basin of Upper Silesia. Two bloody uprisings had solved nothing. So the Allied Powers at Versailles arranged a plebiscite, district by district, to determine the borders. 

Editorials: No such thing as a fair gerrymander | San Antonio Express-News

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a Wisconsin case, is poised to make a historic ruling that could make extreme partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional. Texas, whose maps historically are challenged because of racial gerrymandering, should nonetheless pay close attention. For all intents and purposes, racial and political gerrymandering are the same things in this state. Questions asked during a hearing Tuesday in the case offer a glimmer of hope that the days of gerrymandering might be coming to an end — or at least rendered more difficult to achieve. One question the court grappled with during the hearing: When does partisan gerrymandering — drawing legislative districts to advantage a certain political party — serve a valuable societal purpose? And the answer: Never.

Editorials: Our vulnerable elections | Albany Times Union

We realize “infrastructure” can be a yawn-inducing word. So instead of New York’s and the nation’s “voting infrastructure,” let’s talk about national security. The deflections and distractions of some politicians aside, there seems to be little if any credible dispute that Russia attempted last year to penetrate this country’s voting systems. To put a fine point on it, an adversary sought to affect the outcome of an election that would determine who decides where America sends its military, who it points nuclear weapons at, how it spends $3.3 trillion in our taxes and fees, and whether or not it continues sanctions on that particular adversary for aggression that includes forcibly annexing part of another country. So whether you’re pleased with the outcome of the election or not, it should matter to you that anyone tried to rig the system, and that there is no reason to believe they won’t try again.

Editorials: Will this US supreme court case uphold American democracy? | Russ Feingold/The Guardian

On Tuesday, the US supreme court hears oral arguments in Gill v Whitford. This will open the door for a potentially precedent-setting ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering – the process of redrawing electoral districts in order to favor one party over another. The past several years have seen a new level of hyper-partisan gerrymandering that defies voters and has subverted our democracy. Thus far, however, the court has refused to rule on the constitutionality of this political ploy, deferring instead to the political process. The result is a system that demands immediate course correction. While there is progress to be made at the state level, in today’s political climate, the supreme court is best poised to demand the needed course correction before this illegitimate political ploy further distorts our elections.

Editorials: Algorithms Supercharged Gerrymandering. We Should Use Them to Fix it | Daniel Oberhaus/Motherboard

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Gill v. Whitford, in which the state of Wisconsin will argue that congressional redistricting practices are not subject to judicial oversight. At the core of this hearing is whether partisan gerrymandering—a tactic used by political parties to redraw congressional voting districts so that the voting power within those districts is weighted toward their own party—was used to steal the 2012 state elections in Wisconsin from Democrats. The ramifications of this decision will be felt by the entire country. The Supreme Court will be deciding whether or not federal courts have the ability to throw out district maps for being too partisan, which requires the justices to be able to articulate just what constitutes partisan gerrymandering in the first place. The practice of gerrymandering has been a thorn in the side of American democracy for most of our nation’s existence, but continues largely unabated due to the difficulty of defining the point at which a new congressional district can considered to be the result of partisan gerrymandering. Various solutions to America’s gerrymandering problem have been proposed over the years, but most of these have failed to gain traction. In September, however, a team of data scientists at the University of Illinois published a paper to little fanfare that offered a novel solution to America’s gerrymandering woes: Let an algorithm draw the maps.

Editorials: How to stop Russian robots from attacking the next election | Amy Klobuchar/The Washington Post

During the summer of 2016, Melvin Redick was — like many of us — posting his thoughts about the election on Facebook. Melvin’s profile painted a picture of an all-American family man from Harrisburg, Pa. He was a dad who liked baseball and cared about his country. But Melvin was hiding something: He wasn’t a real person. He was a fake account created to influence the U.S. electorate. We have since learned that there were thousands of Melvins, controlled by the Russians, posting on social media during the 2016 presidential election. And they weren’t just creating fake accounts to spread misinformation. They were also buying political advertisements designed to influence American voters. It is illegal for foreign entities to buy political ads in the United States. But that didn’t stop the purchase of thousands of political ads on Facebook, paid for — in rubles — by foreigners.

Editorials: Social media and democracy: Optimism fades as fears rise | Rob Lever/AFP

Just a few years ago, Facebook and Twitter were hailed as tools for democracy activists, enabling movements like the Arab Spring to flourish. Today, the tables have turned as fears grow over how social media may have been manipulated to disrupt the US election, and over how authoritarian governments are using the networks to clamp down on dissent. The latest revelations from Facebook and Twitter, which acknowledged that Russian-backed entities used their network to spread disinformation and sow political discord, have heightened concerns about the impact of social networks on democracy. “Both services are ripe for abuse and manipulation by all sorts of problematic people, including hostile intelligence services,” says Andrew Weisburd, a non-resident fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Editorials: For fair elections … can we get a recount? | Norm Eisen/ CNN

The latest reporting regarding the scope of attempted Russian cyber-interference in the 2016 presidential election suggests election officials made a mistake in ending efforts to recount the contest in key states. Those recounts offered the best opportunity to identify and resolve issues that are now coming to light. We should study our errors to avoid repeating them — and to make sure recounts in the future are better at detecting hacking and other threats. Post-election efforts to recount the 2016 presidential vote did not get far. For example, the Michigan recount was shut down after just three days; a federal judge rejected a request to recount paper ballots in Pennsylvania; and while Wisconsin did conduct a recount, in many counties, officials neglected to hand-count paper ballots and did not examine vulnerable software in electronic voting machines. Just as Donald Trump continues to resist the finding that Russia manipulated our democratic process, he furiously contested the need to investigate the vote. His campaign and the Republican Party engaged in court battles to block the recounts in all three states. The exact outcome varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the bottom line was the same.

Editorials: With Russian hackers apparently bent on wrongdoing, Pennsylvania must protect its voting systems | LNP

Last week, the Trump administration informed election officials in 21 states, including Pennsylvania, that Russian hackers targeted their election systems before last year’s presidential election, The Associated Press reported. Pennsylvania was not the only key battleground state targeted; so, too, were Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. The targeting was reported to have been mostly preparatory — scanning computer systems for weaknesses that could be exploited — and to have been aimed at voter registration systems, rather than vote-tallying software. The notification “came roughly a year after U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia,” the AP reported. …  In 2015, the state Supreme Court rejected an appeal from voters who sought to halt the use of direct-recording electronic voting machines in Pennsylvania. Election officials say that because the machines aren’t connected to the internet, they’re safe. But they don’t produce a verifiable paper trail — which now seems like a glaring deficit.

Editorials: Will Virginians’ votes get counted properly in November? | Richmond Times-Dispatch

When state election officials ordered the immediate elimination of touch-screen voting machines in early September, the decision struck some localities as hasty. Now it looks as though it might have come just in the nick of time. The Board of Elections issued the order after hearing about vulnerabilities in the touch-screen systems. A demonstration at a tech conference this summer showed just how easy it is to hack into supposedly secure machines — by using a touch-screen machine from Virginia. Replacing the machines in the dozen or so localities, mostly small and rural, that still rely on them will strain their abilities. Board member Clara Bell Wheeler even expressed concern that the resulting confusion could disenfranchise some voters. But after hearing about technical vulnerabilities in a closed-door session, Wheeler agreed the switch was necessary. She called the briefing “enlightening.”

Editorials: Mixed Member Proportional voting system: delivering for New Zealand? | Otago Daily Times

Has New Zealand really got to grips with MMP? Does it better serve the people or politicians? Those questions are worth asking in light of last weekend’s general election and the expected two-to-three-week wait while negotiations to form a government take place. The MMP (mixed member proportional) voting system to elect Parliament was first used in 1996 after a final binding referendum in 1993 that endorsed the change from FPP (first past the post). There are similarities this time with that first MMP election, in that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters (who had 13.4% of the party vote and won the then five Maori seats) was wooed by the two major parties, National (on 33.9%) and Labour (on 28.2%), to form a government.

Editorials: Why Banning Russian Facebook Ads Might Be Impossible | Richard Hasen/Politico

Lost amid the debate over whether Facebook can be trusted to police itself to stop Russian and other foreign interference in future U.S. elections or whether new legislation is necessary to accomplish this task is a potential insuperable roadblock to effective regulation: the conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court and their views of the First Amendment. Facebook, facing tremendous political pressure to reveal how Russia tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 election campaign through targeted Facebook advertising, recently revealed that entities backed by the Russian government purchased up to $150,000 in advertising aimed at promoting Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Then, last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced voluntary steps the company said it would take to assure greater transparency in political ads.

Editorials: Tyranny of the Minority | Michelle Goldberg/The New York Times

Since Donald Trump’s cataclysmic election, the unthinkable has become ordinary. We’ve grown used to naked profiteering off the presidency, an administration that calls for the firing of private citizens for political dissent and nuclear diplomacy conducted via Twitter taunts. Here, in my debut as a New York Times columnist, I want to discuss a structural problem that both underlies and transcends our current political nightmare: We have entered a period of minority rule. I don’t just mean the fact that Trump became president despite his decisive loss in the popular vote, though that shouldn’t be forgotten. Worse, the majority of voters who disapprove of Trump have little power to force Congress to curb him.

Editorials: Will the Supreme Court strike down extreme partisan gerrymandering? | Thomas P. Wolf and Michael C. Li/Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Supreme Court this fall will hear a series of blockbuster cases dealing with core constitutional rights and basic national values. Among the most important is Gill vs. Whitford, a Wisconsin case that asks the justices to address the toxic threat of partisan gerrymandering. With Whitford, Americans — who by wide margins say they are fed up with gerrymandering — may finally get the breakthrough they have long sought. The court has already tried and failed several times to limit politicians’ power to manipulate electoral maps for partisan ends. Its failures have paved the way for so-called extreme partisan gerrymanders, electoral maps drawn by politicians and paid consultants that lock in a statewide majority for their party, through good and bad election cycles. But there is reason to believe that the Wisconsin case, which the court will take up Oct. 3, may turn out differently. Several crucial factors have aligned to make judicial action both relatively easy and absolutely necessary.

Editorials: Congress Must Follow Up Facebook’s Exposing Russian Political Advertising | Karen Hobert Flynn/US News & World Report

Facebook’s announcement this month that it’s changing the way it handles political advertising is good news but no cause for celebration. Stung by stories about how the site sold political advertising to Russian interests last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a self-regulation regimen that may quiet the social network’s critics and placate lawmakers alarmed about hidden foreign meddling in U.S. elections. But while Zuckerberg’s maneuver may be good for Facebook’s bottom line, it falls far short of what Americans need to protect our elections. Rather than placating Congress and the public, it should spark the passage of comprehensive and long overdue legislation requiring full disclosure of the people, businesses and groups using online ads to influence our votes.

Editorials: The case against partisan gerrymandering | Nicholas Stephanopoulos/Slate

Superficially, the question in Gill v. Whitford—the blockbuster case about partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin, to be heard next month by the Supreme Court—is a legal one. Is the test for gerrymandering adoptedby the trial court “discernible,” or rooted in the high court’s precedent, and “manageable,” or consistent in the results it would produce? Lurking beneath this question, though, is a more fundamental debate about the nature of voting and representation in modern American politics. The position the Supreme Court takes in this debate will likely influence its decision more than any legal argument. In its amicus brief, the Wisconsin legislature tells a rosy tale of voter and legislator behavior. Wisconsin voters do not “blindly support one party or the other,” the brief contends. Rather, they often split their tickets, or change their allegiances from one election to the next, based on “issues that matter to the electorate” and “the quality of the candidates and their campaigns.” Legislators, similarly, are highly responsive to their constituents’ preferences. Competitive races “force the winning candidate to adopt more moderate, centrist positions,” while “a landslide may allow that candidate to move further from the center.”

Editorials: We’re under constant threat of cyberattack, and Congress isn’t prepared to do anything about it | Brianna Wu /The Washington Post

Last October a coordinated cyberattack sabotaged massive parts of the American and European Internet. The Mirai Botnet turned our Internet-connected devices against us. Millions of webcams, VCRs, baby monitors and telnet services were seized and used to take down Twitter, major news outlets and commercial infrastructure. Web access was cut off, electronic systems stopped working, and we couldn’t get news about what was happening. It wasn’t a team of sophisticated hackers behind the attack, but one angry gamer — reportedly a man with a grudge against the PlayStation network. The truth is that someone with minimal technical knowledge can set up a node of the Mirai Botnet in less than 15 minutes. One would think that members of Congress would lie awake at night at the thought of a malicious botnet whose next target could be military and financial institutions. And yet, no major federal initiatives were launched in the aftermath of Mirai. Rather, the security of vital infrastructure was left for private industry to solve.

Editorials: The Russians are hacking. Luckily Trump fraud commission isn’t in charge | Michael P. McDonald/USA Today

It’s bad news that Russian hackers targeted election systems in 21 states last year, as the Department of Homeland Security confirmed in calls to the states Friday. And it would be bad news if we had to rely on President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity to clean up this mess. Fortunately, we don’t. Trump’s commission has been in the spotlight as commission members trade accusations and refutations of voter fraud. It happens, but wild allegations of oceans of fraud evaporate to drops once vigilant election officials and law officers conduct their investigations. Meanwhile, another group is quietly tackling the cyberattacks that are a potentially greater threat to the integrity of our elections. In the closing days of the Obama administration, under the cloud of Russian interference in 2016 campaigns and voting, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced elections as critical infrastructure. This designation triggered work to form an Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council to address cybersecurity. The differences between the voter fraud and infrastructure efforts reveal much about what is wrong and right about contemporary politics.

Editorials: Kris Kobach’s “voter fraud” circus goes off the rails | Michael Latner/Salon

When Dr. John Lott Jr. came before the Kobach-Pence “election integrity” commission last week and called for background checks for voters – the same kind that gun owners must undergo before purchasing a weapon – even the clowns had to realize that the circus had run off the road. After all, there are more than 30,000 gun deaths annually in America. Between 2000 and 2014, however, every comprehensive study – whether by courts, academics or journalists — have found only a handful of cases of voter impersonation. Lott, however, told the commission that his proposal would allow Democrats to “go and prove, essentially, to Republicans, that there’s no fraud.” There can no longer be any reasonable doubt that it is the fraudulence of this commission, rather than unverified claims of voter fraud, that is the greater threat to our democracy. Last Tuesday’s second meeting of Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, headed by Kansas Secretary of State and newly minted Breitbart columnist Kris Kobach, began under clouds of controversy that only grew darker as the day progressed.

Editorials: Can Washington Protect America’s Electoral Process from the next Cyber Attack? | John Allen and Michael O’Hanlon/The National Interest

When one of us, after a four-decade career in the Marine Corps including nineteen months in command in Afghanistan, had the chance to address the National Association of Counties earlier this year, this was the key message:

We in the military have always been the ones on the front lines in defense of this country and its democracy. Now, it is you as well—those who are manning the voting centers, maintaining the voter registries, tabulating the tallies. As Congress gets fully back to work this fall, the issue of how the federal government can help local and state election authorities secure the United States against an attack needs to be front and center on their agenda—because it has become a national-security issue of very high order. In particular, Congress needs to approve and appropriate funds for an initiative like that proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Lindsey Graham, and provide several hundred million dollars to make the country’s voting more secure. Last year, a hostile power reached straight past the most sophisticated military and intelligence services on the planet, across vast seas and over towering mountain ranges, and sought to affect the fundamental outcome of the American 2016 presidential election through a strategic-influence campaign, which included cyber intrusions into the heart of the American voting system. In essence, the Russians, apparently on the direct orders of Vladimir Putin, took direct aim at America’s ability to choose its own government and thus, ultimately, its own way of life—arguably with some success.

Editorials: Trump’s ‘election integrity’ group is waging war on the right to vote | Andrew Gumbel/The Guardian

The Trump presidency is opening up a new battlefront in the intense and controversial war over American voting rights. After a decade of wrangling between Democrats who have sought to expand voting opportunities and Republicans who have invoked the specter of voter fraud to restrict them, the focus is now on purging registration lists – even at the risk of kicking large numbers of eligible voters off the rolls. Both Trump’s justice department and his newly formed Presidential Commission on Election Integrity are involved in broad data collection and new policy proposals to “clean up” the voter rolls in ways that critics fear will have a disproportionate impact on blacks, Latinos and newly naturalized citizens. The justice department (DoJ) has also begun issuing legal opinions to support states that have passed restrictive new voting rules, even when they appear to contradict existing federal law. Voting rights activists say these efforts are kicking voter suppression into a higher gear at a time when federal courts are ruling that a flurry of strict new voter ID laws in several Republican-run states discriminate against minority voters and college students.

Editorials: How the Kansas Legislature can take up where statistician has been stopped | The Wichita Eagle

Much good can come from Beth Clarkson’s 2 1/2-year quest to solve an unexplained pattern of voting results, but only if the Kansas Legislature can see the bipartisan importance. Clarkson, chief statistician for Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research with a Ph.D. in statistics, has tried since April 2015 to examine paper results from the 2014 general election. She wanted to answer why results tended to increase Republican votes in large precincts. Polling didn’t reflect the tally, which Clarkson reasoned could be caused by unseen demographic trends or fraud within the vote count. She sued Sedgwick County elections commissioner Tabitha Lehman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for paper results. Representing herself, Clarkson lost when her case was framed more as an open-records filing than a recount request. Her new lawyer called her “a brilliant statistician but a horrible lawyer” in a Kansas Court of Appeals hearing Tuesday.

Editorials: Like it or not, the far right is heading for Germany’s Bundestag | Alan Posener/The Guardian

On the face of it, Sunday’s general election will be the most boring in Germany’s history. The only question seems to be: will chancellor Angela Merkel continue her “grand coalition“ with the Social Democrats (SPD), or will she rule with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) or the Greens, or both? One thing, however, seems as certain as Merkel’s continued premiership, and it’s more important: the far-right populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party will enter the Bundestag. Polls put it at 10% or more. For the first time since the Reichstag fire of 1933, a nationalist, reactionary, racist party will sit in the building where the republic was proclaimed in 1918, where Nazis and communists helped destroy the democracy of Weimar, where the red flag was raised by Soviet soldiers in 1945, and which – redesigned by British architect Norman Foster – has come to represent the modern, multicultural and friendly Germany the world saw during the football World Cup in 2006, when Merkel had been in office for just one year.

Editorials: The Electoral College Is a National Security Threat | Matthew Olsen & Benjamin Haas/Politico

In Federalist No. 68, his pseudonymous essay on “The Mode of Electing the President,” Alexander Hamilton wrote that the Electoral College could shield the United States “from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” Because of the “transient existence” and dispersed makeup of the electors, he argued, hostile countries would find it too expensive and time-consuming to inject “sinister bias” into the process of choosing a president. At the time, the new American leaders feared meddling from Great Britain, their former colonial master, or perhaps from other powers such as France, and they designed a system to minimize the prospect that Europe’s aging monarchies could seize control of their young democracy. Hamilton and his colleagues never could have envisioned a year like 2016, when an enemy state—Russia—was able to manipulate America’s election process with stunning effectiveness. But it’s clear the national security rationale for the Electoral College is outdated and therefore it should be retired. Simply put, it enables foreign powers to more easily pierce the very shield Hamilton imagined it would be.

Editorials: Promising news on dearth of voter fraud in Colorado | Denver Post

During the 2016 election cycle, Donald Trump infamously sought to cast doubt on the integrity of voting systems by arguing that if he lost his supporters should interpret the defeat as proof of a rigged election. He even said he wouldn’t concede unless he won. After his surprising victory, Trump argued that as many as 5 million votes cast illegally during the 2016 presidential election cost him the popular vote. Numerous fact checkers have judged the statement to be false, and the country’s secretaries of state have certified their elections and found no evidence of widespread wrongdoing, but questions about voter fraud persist. No doubt, such questions will live on for some time, and they will do so even if Trump’s commission on voter fraud doesn’t find the massive wrongdoing the president is looking for. Against this worrisome backdrop, it’s good news to read that a recent study by Colorado’s secretary of state, Wayne Williams, in conjunction with counterparts in four other states, found scant evidence of fraud.

Editorials: ‘Election integrity’ means voter suppression | Cynthia Tucker/The Record-Bee

Among true believers on the right, there is no sturdier fiction — no fairy tale more popular — than the one that insists American elections are plagued by voter fraud. “Election integrity” is the hallmark of GOP activists, and stories that purport to show voter fraud are a staple in the right-wing media-sphere. Every now and then, conservative pundits come up with an actual case of ballot-box shenanigans. But as numerous studies have shown, the incidence of voter fraud is infinitesimal. The real problem in American elections is that so few citizens trouble themselves to cast a ballot. Still, the myth has been circulating for decades now, having gained popularity around the same time that the Voting Rights Act guaranteed black citizens access to the ballot. (Wonder why?) The truth is that the GOP has long practiced the political art of intimidating voters of color at the ballot box, using tactics both subtle and not-so-subtle.

Editorials: Why Foreign Propaganda Is More Dangerous Now | Samantha Power/The New York Times

When George Washington gave his Farewell Address in 1796, he urged the American people “to be constantly awake” to the risk of foreign influence. In the wake of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 United States election, the president’s warning has a fresh, chilling resonance. The debate in the United States about foreign interference concentrates on who did what to influence last year’s election and the need for democracies to strengthen their cybersecurity for emails, critical infrastructure and voting platforms. But we need to pay far more attention to another vulnerability: our adversaries’ attempts to subvert our democratic processes by aiming falsehoods at ripe subsets of our population — and not only during elections. In the Cold War era, Soviet attempts to meddle in American democracy were largely unsuccessful. In 1982 Yuri Andropov, then the K.G.B. chairman, told Soviet foreign intelligence officers to incorporate disinformation operations — the so-called active measures meant to discredit adversaries and influence public opinion — into their standard work. They had an ambitious aim: preventing Ronald Reagan’s re-election.