Editorials: Trump’s voter data request poses an unnoticed danger — to national security | Michael Chertoff/The Washington Post

The Trump administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is asking states for voter-registration data from as far back as 2006. This would include names, dates of birth, voting histories, party registrations and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers. The request has engendered controversy, to put it mildly, including refusals by many states and a caustic presidential tweet. But whatever the political, legal and constitutional issues raised by this data request, one issue has barely been part of the public discussion: national security. If this sensitive data is to be collected and aggregated by the federal government, then the administration should honor its own recent cybersecurity executive order and ensure that the data is not stolen by hackers or insiders.

Editorials: Combating a Real Threat to Election Integrity | The New York Times

Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election may not have altered the outcome of any races, but it showed that America’s voting system is far more vulnerable to attack than most people realized. Whether the attackers are hostile nations like Russia (which could well try it again even though President Trump has raised the issue with President Vladimir Putin of Russia) or hostile groups like ISIS, the threat is very real. The question is this: Can the system be strengthened against cyberattacks in time for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential race? The answer, encouragingly, is that there are concrete steps state and local governments can take right now to improve the security and integrity of their elections. A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice identifies two critical pieces of election infrastructure — aging voting machines and voter registration databases relying on outdated software — that present appealing targets for hackers and yet can be shored up at a reasonable cost. … The report identifies three immediate steps states and localities can take to counter the threat.

Editorials: Fraudulent voting fraud | Baltimore Sun

Nothing telegraphs a federal commission’s basic incompetence quite like having 44 states refuse to cooperate with its inquiry. But that’s the running total, according to a recent CNN survey, of states that have declined to provide requested voter data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, the Trump administration’s sham inquiry into voter fraud. As cynically partisan as the commission appears to be in makeup and mission, the decision by the states was far more straightforward: In most cases, state laws expressly forbid election agencies from releasing much of the data (including the last four digits of voter Social Security numbers) for privacy reasons. That was certainly true in Maryland where the state elections administrator formally notified the commission of its rejection Monday in a two-paragraph letter that simply noted that much of the information requested was protected by state and federal law. Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh offered a more damning statement calling the request for personal data “repugnant” and designed “only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.”

Editorials: Kentucky voters could become victims of cyber crime | Lisa Berry-Tayman and Eric Hodge/Courier-Journal

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has asked that the Commonwealth turn over its voter records to the federal government. The legality of such a request is questionable, however, and the Commission’s actions could put Kentucky’s voters at significant risk of identity theft and election fraud. It’s a dangerous cyber world where hacking tools and consumer information are sold openly on the Internet. In 2016, data breaches exposed more than 4.2 billion pieces of information about individuals. The Russian hacking of the presidential election was followed by global ransomware attacks that hijacked thousands of networked systems and foreshadowed new, more destructive attacks. Most recently, a consultancy engaged by the Republican National Committee accidentally exposed the personal voter information of nearly 200 million Americans.

Editorials: Texas and other states are right to refuse Trump panel’s request for private voter information | Dallas Morning News

Voting is a right in a democracy and the secrecy of the ballot protects citizens from reprisal. President Donald Trump may not appreciate this core American principle, but we’re pleased that most state election officials do. At least 43 states, including Texas, have pushed back against all or parts of  the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s sweeping and unprecedented request to hand over names, addresses, dates of birth, political party and voting histories, criminal records, military status and the last four digits of  Social Security numbers of voters dating back to 2006. Texas will turn over information already publicly available but rightly refuses to release full or partial Social Security numbers. We find it disturbing that Trump continues to deny Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, but remains preoccupied with using this commission to pursue his own unproven allegations that millions voted illegally, costing him the popular vote.  

Editorials: Why does Trump’s voting commission want data it shouldn’t have? | David Becker/The Hill

It’s an understatement to say the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s request to every state for highly-sensitive personal information on every U.S. voter is raising major concerns among leaders in almost every state. … Dozens of states, from deeply blue to deeply red to everything in between, either refused to provide any personal data on voters, or agreed only to provide the minimum of what the law in their state required (usually just name, address and political party information). Incredibly, even secretaries of state that serve on this commission, including Secretaries Lawson of Indiana, Dunlap of Maine, and Gardner of New Hampshire, and Secretary Kobach himself, have refused to turn over all the information requested. And for good reason. … [A]ll these taxpayer resources are being spent to research a question to which we already know the answer – the extent to which voter fraud exists. On this point, every piece of research conducted by states both red and blue, academics, and even the Bush Department of Justice, agrees – voter fraud exists but only barely. It is extremely rare, comprising only thousandths of a percent of the total ballots cast.

Editorials: On Independence Day, U.S. elections remain vulnerable | USA Today

As Americans celebrate Independence Day, it’s worth remembering that the right to vote in free and fair elections stands at the heart of that independence — and that this cherished right is under attack by a hostile foreign power. New revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election arrive regularly. Last month came news that Russian hackers had probed the voting networks in 21 states and had executed a cyberattack on a contractor that supplies voting software to states. “They will be back,” former FBI director James Comey warned in congressional testimony. In the face of this threat, the nation’s leaders, at the federal and state levels, have done little to harden defenses against future attacks. For the most part, President Trump has been in denial about Russian meddling, as if acknowledging the problem threatens the legitimacy of his election, and has focused instead on unproven allegations of extensive voter fraud.

Editorials: Congress should require paper voter ballots, electronic cybersecurity | Bruce Fein/Washington Times

Something is rotten in the state of our electronic voting practices. They are recklessly wandering towards online voting despite their high vulnerable to hacking and manipulation by cyberspace clowns, partisans, enemies, or all three. Congress should invoke its power under Article I, section 4 of the Constitution to require in federal elections use of paper ballots or electronic voting machines that produce voter-verified paper ballots. Congress should encourage States to do likewise for state elections through a federal grant-in-aid program. Firewalls should also be required between internet and voter registration, vote-tabulating machines, ballot delivery, and election management systems. Before certification of final election results, a random sample of electronic voting system totals should be compared with hand counts of the votes on the corresponding paper ballots to detect hacking or error. Elections are too important to be left to amateurs or to luck, which Congress seems not to understand.

Editorials: Trump’s next attack on democracy: mass voter suppression | Russ Feingold/The Guardian

The most important aspect of any democratic election is participation. A democracy gains its legitimacy through elections only so far as those elections represent the will of the people. Limit voter participation, and there is a direct correlation between the legitimacy of an election and the democratic system. President Trump and Vice-President Pence’s “election integrity” commission is unequivocally declaring war on voters – our democratic legitimacy be damned. The commission recently sent a letter to all 50 states asking that they provide all the names and associated birthdays, last four digits of social security numbers, addresses, political parties, and voting histories since 2006 of people on their voter rolls. This letter is helping to lay the groundwork for nationalized voter suppression. The commission is requesting the same information that Republican state governments have used to create hyper-partisan gerrymandering and enact restrictive voter ID laws. Such measures have been disturbingly successful at suppressing voting of minority and low-income citizens, groups that tend to vote with Democrats. This assault on voters might seem farfetched, except that we’ve seen this strategy too many times before to claim ignorance now.

Editorials: The Russians will be back: America’s election infrastructure is a sitting duck for foreign adversaries | Joe Mohen/Salon

Russia’s apparent attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election continues to make news. Some reports have suggested that voting systems were attacked — by unknown parties and in various ways — in at least 39 states. These attacks make it increasingly obvious just how vulnerable American voting systems are. This is not the first time our voting systems have been tested. After the 2000 presidential election, voting systems were updated to prevent simple counting errors. The margin of victory in Florida in the infamous 2000 presidential election was a mere 537 votes, less than the margin of error of the voting procedures then in use. We will never know who would have become president had the systems used at that time been more accurate. Less well known is that earlier that same year Al Gore won the first (and only) significant U.S. election ever run over the internet — the Arizona Democratic primary. My company at that time had been contracted to run that primary, and we assumed that every hacker in the world would be trying to sabotage that statewide election.

Editorials: I’ve silenced Kris Kobach on the issue of voter fraud | Chad Lawhorn/ Lawrence Journal World

There are some who would say evoking silence from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is akin to a miracle. After all, despite the many criticisms of Kobach, he often isn’t shy to talk. He even has been known to provide information when he didn’t intend to. See a now infamous photo of him with a set of documents and then president-elect Trump. And when the subject is illegal voting, Kobach normally becomes like a “Game of Thrones” fan at a cocktail party. You need an actual wizard to get out of that conversation. But evidently that is not always the case. It has been a little more than four months since I first reported a potential voter fraud case involving Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern and his elderly mother. I’ve asked Kobach’s representatives approximately a half-dozen times for an update on the case. Most times, I haven’t even received a response from his office. I did on June 14. Spokeswoman Samantha Poetter sent me an email saying she expected to have an update for me later that day. That was the last I’ve heard from her, despite checking in several more times. Why is Kobach silent on the matter? I, of course, don’t know. I can only speculate. Fortunately, one of the perks of being an editor is you are allowed to do that.

Editorials: Happy Fourth of July! Show Us Your Papers | The New York Times

The reviews of President Trump’s new commission on election integrity are rolling in, and they’re not good“Disingenuous.” “Repugnant.” “At best a waste of taxpayer money.” “A tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.” State officials across the country responded to the commission’s slapdash request last week for detailed voter data in the manner previously reserved for emailed pleas from a Nigerian prince. Delete, said secretaries of state in Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee, California — more than 20 states refused to comply, red and blue and every hue in between. “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico,” Mississippi’s secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, responded. What triggered the bipartisan backlash? A letter from the commission — whose ostensible goal is to restore Americans’ confidence in their elections — asked states to turn over by July 14 all publicly available information about their voters, including names, addresses, dates of birth, political party and voting history, criminal record, military status and the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Editorials: Trump’s Voter Suppression Efforts Have Begun | Dale Ho/The New York Times

Last Wednesday, Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas and the vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, wrote a letter to all 50 states, requesting that they send the commission the personal information of all registered voters. This includes full names, birth dates, addresses, political affiliations, voting history and last four digits of Social Security numbers. The letter says that all documents provided to the commission will be made public. What could possibly go wrong? There are obvious data privacy concerns. Digital security experts have called the plan a gold mine for hackers. Mr. Kobach’s letter says the data will be held on a “secure FTP site,” but offers no details. Mr. Kobach himself appears to be backtracking, recently saying that, notwithstanding his request to other states, he will not be giving Kansas voters’ Social Security information to his own commission.

Editorials: What Is Kris Kobach Up To? | Charles Stewart/Politico

When President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, sent a letter to every state in the country on Thursday requesting “publicly available voter roll data,” Delbert Hosemann, the Republican secretary of state from Mississippi, responded simply: “Go jump in the Gulf.” The letter that evoked Hosemann’s colorful retort was sent under the signature of the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of only a few public figures to embrace the president’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud—the combating of which is the commission’s ostensible mission. In addition to all publicly available data on the states’ voter rolls, it also asked for data that are rarely considered to be public election records, such as information about felony convictions and the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number. I’ve been studying America’s election administration since 2000, and I’ve rarely seen a firestorm like this. A few states have responded to Kobach’s letter with fiery opposition, such as California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s statement that he refused to “legitimize” its work by contributing his state’s voter file. Others, like Hosemann, have used the request to remind Washington of the states’ pre-eminent role in running elections. But most states have approached the Kobach letter as a standard public records request, supplying the data they would supply anyone else who asked—sometimes for the required $12,500 fee, as in Wisconsin.

Editorials: All Your Voter Data Are Belong To Us | Justin Levitt/Take Care

Kris Kobach just asked for help building a national voter file in two weeks. That’s massively irresponsible. And it might well be illegal. Yesterday, on behalf of a federal commission that seems slapped together to validate precooked but half-baked conclusions, Kris Kobach asked states to send him all publicly available information in the state voter files. First, let’s be clear about the scope of the behemoth he wants to assemble in the span of two weeks, with no public conversation. He’s aiming for a national file with hundreds of millions of records. It would include the name, address, political party affiliation (why is this relevant?), and voting history of virtually every voter in America. For some states, it would include at least some, and occasionally all, information about date of birth. For some states, it would include telephone numbers and email addresses. For some states, the voter rolls will include information about minors, who are not yet eligible to vote but are “pre-registered” so that they can vote without undue delay when they turn 18.

Editorials: Trump launches his opening voter suppression salvo | The Washington Post

President Trump’s claim that 3 million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally in last fall’s elections is as evidence-based as the assertion that space aliens on Saturn are bombarding planet Earth with marshmallows. Nonetheless, Washington being Washington, Mr. Trump’s declaration has generated its own politically charged momentum in the form of a presidential commission to investigate voter fraud — a topic that has been endlessly investigated for years, with consistent results: There is no evidence that it is widespread or has materially affected the outcome of any U.S. election. Now Mr. Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is beginning its work under the guidance of its vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican notorious for his efforts at vote suppression.

Editorials: Trump’s Voter Fraud Endgame | Richard Hasen/Slate

Donald Trump’s attempt at voter suppression through his “election integrity” commission is a voting rights nightmare that is being enacted so clumsily it just might backfire. Both before and after the election, Trump made wild and unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and the system being “rigged.” Before the election, many of the claims were about voters voting five, 10, or 15 times by impersonating other voters. The ridiculous and unproven charges of voter suppression had a racial tinge, with suggestions the fraud would happen in majority minority communities. According to the New York Times, he told an audience in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a few weeks before Election Day: “I just hear such reports about Philadelphia. … I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us.” He added for emphasis: “Everybody knows what I’m talking about.”

Editorials: EAC’s 2016 survey provides a deep dive into a wealth of election, voting data | Sean Greene/The Hill

I love baseball. As a researcher, I am fascinated by the endless stream of statistics it generates, data that provides a detailed picture of the rhythms and pace of any given game or season. Coaches, players and general managers use the data to tweak everything from how to set their infield defense to planning team finances and roster decisions years down the road. And fans use the data in their own way to better understand and enjoy the game. This is exactly how I’d like Congress, election administrators and the American people to view the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), the most comprehensive nationwide data about election administration in the United States. It’s a treasure trove of data collected to paint a picture of the administration of the 2016 Federal Election and to give us indicators about ways we can improve election administration and voter experience. And it allows anyone to use the data to dive into what they think is important to better understand how elections work in our country.

Editorials: Why Wednesday’s ‘Election Integrity’ Actions Should Be Watched By States | David Becker/Route Fifty

On Wednesday, word arrived of three seemingly unrelated events. While each of these events has broad implications for the security and integrity of American elections, the nature and timing of each of these—all on the same day—raise serious questions. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, or PACEI, sent letters out to every state requesting that they provide:

“publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.”

They requested that this information be provided within 16 days, via e-mail or via the Safe Access File Exchange, a secure FTP site. It is notable that the PACEI does not state where or how this information will be stored or protected, other than to admit that all these files will be made publicly available, and furthermore does not state what it will do with this sensitive and personal information, other than “fully analyze” it.

Editorials: The Supreme Court is in no hurry to protect voters from gerrymandering | Richard Hasen/The Washington Post

When it comes to assuring fair elections, the Supreme Court has a new message: Voters can wait. Its recently completed term featured two key redistricting votes in which the court turned away temporary relief for voters as the court considered each case — not because these voters would eventually lose, but because the justices refused to put voters’ interests first. And these rulings build upon the court’s troubling “Purcell principle,” the idea that courts should not make changes to voting rules close to the election, even if those changes are necessary to protect voting rights. Last December, North Carolina appealed to the Supreme Court a three-judge court decision holding that the drawing of certain state legislative districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The lower court also ordered that the state conduct special elections this year to cure the defect. North Carolina appealed that order, too, and it asked the Supreme Court to put the special elections on hold pending a decision on its underlying appeal.

Editorials: Transparency is Solution to Shameful Lack of Security For U.S. Voting Systems Revealed by NSA Leak | Leah Rosenbloom/ACLU

Elections belong to the public. Just as we have the right to understand our overall election process, we have a right to understand the underlying hardware and software involved in electronic voting. We have a right to understand where our votes and voter registrations go, who checks them, and which institutions have access to that information. The NSA document allegedly leaked by Reality Leigh Winner and recently published by The Intercept suggests that the government is no longer confident about that critical information. The report details a Russian spear-phishing campaign that introduced malware into election contractors’ and officials’ machines, causing them to run “an unknown payload from malicious infrastructure.” According to the report, “It is unknown…what potential data could have been accessed” by Russian hackers. The malicious code was implanted into instructions for EViD, a piece of software that allows poll workers to verify voters’ sensitive personal information, including name, address, registration status, and voting history. The verification is done entirely over the Internet, and all data is communicated to and from EViD’s “secure website.”

Editorials: Let’s change how we elect the House of Representatives | Don Beyer/The Washington Post

Democracy is in crisis. Even as the country is deeply divided along class and ideological lines, it seems to be unified in its frustration with our current brand of politics. Polls show that less than 20 percent of the country approves of the way Congress is doing its job. The time has come to consider a transformative idea that reflects the American electorate’s desire for moderation and fairness and that encourages the reemergence of bridge builders and candidates with an eye for compromise. That idea involves changing the way we elect members of the House of Representatives. This week I introduced the Fair Representation Act, which would make two fundamental changes in how voters elect their representative in the U.S. House.

Editorials: It’s time to restore full power to the Voting Rights Act | Leah Aden/The Hill

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a devastating ruling that immobilized a part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) that was one of the most effective tools for protecting voters and strengthening our political process. As a result, far too many state and local jurisdictions have unabashedly considered and passed racially discriminatory voting laws; wasted millions of dollars defending them; and cost millions of disproportionately black and Latino Americans their most basic right in our democracy: The right to vote.

Editorials: Paper ballots are hack-proof. It’s time to bring them back. | Glenn Harlan Reynolds/USA Today

I’ve been talking about the importance of protecting against voting-machine hacks since 2002. And now, finally, people are starting to take me seriously. The move to paperless voting started in response to the Florida “hanging chad” fiasco in the 2000 presidential election. Some people (like me) thought this was a mistake, but such concerns were often dismissed. Now, apparently, you can’t be paranoid enough. As Politico’s Bob King noted, while 10 years ago critics of paperless voting were called paranoid, now both parties are worried. It remains true that there is no actual evidence that a single vote was changed by hackers in the 2016 election. But even the possibility of hacking has served to promote the sort of conspiracy-mongering and political hatred that led to, for example, the shooting attack on Republican lawmakers last week. In a democratic polity, people have to believe that their votes are counted honestly, or the legitimacy of the system collapses.

Editorials: Here’s how to keep Russian hackers from attacking the 2018 elections | J. Alex Halderman and Justin Talbot-Zorn/The Washington Post

“They’re coming after America,” former FBI director James B. Comey told the Senate intelligence committee this month. “They will be back.” In a highly politicized hearing, this bold statement drew strikingly little partisan disagreement. Senators on both sides of the aisle have seemingly reached consensus that foreign agents did try to tamper with the 2016 election and that they are extremely likely to do so again. The question is: What do we do about it? While the ongoing Russia investigation has, understandably, received massive attention, there’s so far been scant public focus on the question of how we safeguard our electoral systems from outside interference in the future. Responding to the threat of election hacking isn’t exclusively a matter of diplomatic intrigue or international sanctions. It’s fundamentally a matter of computer science: how we harden our election technology through cybersecurity standards.

Editorials: Do we really want the Supreme Court to decide how partisan is too partisan? | Charles Lane/The Washington Post

On Dec. 12, 2000, the Supreme Court ended the recount of Florida’s votes in that year’s presidential election, effectively awarding 25 electoral votes to Republican George W. Bush and making him president. The decision was 5 to 4, with the most conservative Republican-appointed justices in favor of Bush. Democrats condemned the ruling as nakedly partisan, saying it was based not on precedent but a cooked-to-order legal rationale: Recount rules didn’t treat all ballots the same way, thus violating the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the laws. Many critics saw Bush v. Gore as an indelible blot on the court’s legitimacy. Seventeen-odd years later, Democrats are pressing a case whose essential premise is that the Supreme Court can and should be trusted to write a whole new category of rules affecting almost every state legislative and congressional election in the United States.

Editorials: Language barrier shouldn’t be a barrier to democracy | Austin American-Statesman

Though voting should be a simple process, it’s undeniable that some people face more obstacles at the polls than others.
When English is not your first language, the voting process can be especially difficult. Though a controversial voter ID law here has grabbed national headlines, fewer Texans know about the state’s more obscure voting rights battle that’s threatening the right to vote for U.S. citizens who don’t speak English. Several years ago, Mallika Das of Williamson County brought her son Saurabh to the polls to help her interpret her ballot. When they arrived, Saurabh was told that he couldn’t help his mom because he was registered to vote in a neighboring district. Mallika Das was a U.S. citizen and eligible voter who wanted to exercise her constitutional right — but that day, she couldn’t properly cast a ballot. They wouldn’t let her son help her.

Editorials: Going national with automatic voter registration | Adam Gitlin/The Hill

Senior members of Congress last week introduced a bill that would automatically register Americans to vote when they interact with a wide range of government agencies, unless they decline. The reform not only expands access to the most fundamental right in our democracy and increases participation, it also reduces mistakes on the rolls and enhances the security of voting infrastructure. In short, it brings election administration into the 21st Century. The initiative, led by Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.), and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), comes amid increased momentum for automatic registration at the state level. Eight states and the District of Columbia have approved the policy, and 32 states have introduced bills to implement or expand the reform in 2017. Oregon — the first state to jump on board — has already fully implemented automatic registration, and early research on its effects on turnout is encouraging.

Editorials: Court may rule on partisan gerrymandering – but maybe not | Lyle Denniston/Law News

The Supreme Court on Monday stepped, somewhat hesitantly, into the long-standing constitutional controversy over partisan gerrymandering, accepting a major test case for review but giving itself several ways to avoid deciding it. At issue is the question of whether the process of drawing new election district boundaries is unconstitutional if one political party specifically creates maps giving its own candidates a distinct advantage in getting elected, directly limiting the other party’s chances at the polls. It is a political act that is as old as the American Republic, drawing its name as a “gerrymander” from a member of the Founding generation, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, for his infamous state senate districting map so misshapen that it resembled an awkward salamander. In its modern form, it is sometimes blamed for the deep partisan polarization of Congress and other legislative bodies, because modern computer science and detailed census data makes it so much easier for those in charge of drawing new maps to place individual voters into districts to make them decidedly Republican or Democratic so as to achieve unequal electoral power.

Editorials: I voted against ranked-choice voting. But I don’t support repealing the law. | Michael Carpenter/Bangor Daily News

Last November, I voted “no” on Question 5, the referendum that asked voters whether they wanted to enact ranked-choice voting for primary and general elections. I did so because, as a candidate for the Maine Senate, I shared concerns with voters in my district about the potential for confusion and depressed turnout, as well as the possibility of chaos taking hold in a disputed election caused by the system. In addition, as a Maine former attorney general, I concurred with the legal opinion presented by Attorney General Janet Mills that ranked-choice voting raised constitutional concerns.

After the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s unanimous advisory opinion last month that ranked-choice voting would be unconstitutional for use in three statewide elections, I decided to co-sponsor legislation — LD 1625 — to repeal the law in its entirety. But after listening to testimony and reviewing the facts, I changed my mind. I have always appreciated the importance and necessity of constitutional compliance, which is why I now support preserving all constitutional parts of this law. Lawmakers should not overrule the more than 388,000 Maine people from across the political spectrum who voted last November to enact ranked-choice voting, the second largest referendum vote in our state’s history. As I heard from some of these voters in public testimony, I realized they were rightfully astonished and offended by the prospect of full repeal. There is an opportunity for middle ground.