Editorials: The Tories promised to give expats the vote last year. It was a whopper | Giles Tremlett/The Guardian

In the rough-and-tumble of democracy, a general election is that magic moment when you kick out a politician who has reneged on their promises, or reward one who has fulfilled them. The genius, or cynicism, of Theresa May’s early election is that, after so few months of government, she has no real record to study. But here, for those wondering about her ability to flout any of her own government’s solemn pledges, is a whopper that has left millions of UK citizens in the lurch. In October her minister for the constitution, Chris Skidmore, made a clear and unequivocal pledgeto bring UK citizens living abroad back into the democratic fold, by allowing them to vote, before the next election. This was especially important to those whose lives are most traumatically affected by Brexit because they live elsewhere in the EU.

Editorials: ‘Pervasive’ election fraud and the man who’ll find it, even if it doesn’t exist | The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Amid a firestorm of controversy last week over President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, the administration announced formation of a new commission on “election integrity.” It seemed an amateurish attempt to deflect national attention from the president’s growing credibility problems regarding Russian influence on his presidential campaign and his reasons for firing the person in charge of investigating it. Doubly absurd was his naming of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to serve as the deputy head of the commission under Vice President Mike Pence. Republican Kobach’s record of attempting to suppress votes of minorities and young people in Kansas is legendary. Putting Kobach in charge of election integrity is like putting Russian President Vladimir Putin in charge of U.S. internet security.

Editorials: Trump’s commission on voter fraud is, well, fraudulent | The Washington Post

President Trump has empaneled a commission to investigate voter fraud. The real fraud is the commission itself. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is to be led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Mr. Kobach, a Republican, is a longtime champion of voter suppression laws who seconded as “absolutely correct” the president’s fabricated assertion that Hillary Clinton’s victory in the popular vote, which she won by nearly 3 million ballots, was a result of “millions of people who voted illegally.” Mr. Kobach is notorious for erecting impediments to the ballot box — specifically, ones that would disproportionately discourage and deter minority and other Democratic-leaning voters. His presence as the commission’s vice chair — Mr. Pence’s other responsibilities make it likely that Mr. Kobach will be the panel’s driving force — makes a farce of the idea that the commission’s work will be dispassionate, fair and clear-eyed.

Editorials: Donald Trump voter fraud commission ignores real problem | Joshua A. Douglas/USA Today

President Trump is doubling down on his false claims of voter fraud, fulfilling his promise to appoint a commission to study election integrity. We should see this move for what it is: a simple ploy to play into the misperceptions of his base, regardless of the evidence. More significant, if the focus of the commission is on election integrity, than it will be asking the wrong questions. We do not need a commission to tell us what we already know: Voter fraud, while existing occasionally in local races, is rare. Instead, we need to study why we make it far too hard for many people in this country to vote and what we can do to promote positive voting reforms. We need a commission on voter enhancements, not voter fraud.

Editorials: No passport, no vote: why this cynical Tory plan will suffocate democracy | Maya Goodfellow/The Guardian

Nestled among a raft of Ukip-esque anti-immigration policies in the Tory manifesto is a plan to force people to show identification when they vote. No passport, no driving licence? No vote. The Tories say this would stop electoral fraud, but statistics suggest they’re interested in making it harder for people to vote. According to data from the government’s own report of the 51.4m votes cast in all elections in 2015, there were a mere 130 allegations of voting fraud in 2015. That amounts to 0.00025% of votes. Now, these figures can’t be taken as exact; some of the allegations might be untrue, some go unnoticed. And as the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) pointed out, the report largely relies on “anecdotes and self-professed claims to have witnessed (or even just heard about) electoral fraud”. But even when taking all of this into account, you’d be hard pressed to make the case that voter fraud is in any way a significant problem in the UK.

Editorials: Trump’s Fraudulent Voter-Fraud Commission | The New York Times

President Trump’s repeated claim that “millions” of noncitizens voted illegally in the 2016 election has always been transparently self-serving — a desperate attempt to soothe his damaged ego and explain how he could have lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost three million votes. It also lined up nicely with a yearslong crusade by Republican officials to convince Americans that “voter fraud” is an actual problem. As Mr. Trump’s own lawyers have pointed out, it’s not. But that hasn’t stopped the president from trying, as he so often does, to commandeer the machinery of the federal government to justify his own falsehoods. The most recent example was his creation last week of an advisory commission whose ostensible goal is to “enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes,” with an emphasis on weeding out “improper” or “fraudulent” registration and voting.

Editorials: Despite today’s Supreme Court ruling, the future looks grim for voting rights | Paul Waldman/The Washington Post

Democrats got a victory in a voting rights case at the Supreme Court today — but don’t get used to that headline. There are dark days ahead for voting rights. In today’s decision, the court didn’t actually judge the case on its merits. It declined to hear a case involving North Carolina’s vote suppression law, which had been struck down by a lower court. In the time since then, Democrats have taken over as governor and attorney general in the state and attempted to withdraw the case over the objection of the legislature, which is still in Republican hands. There’s no question that this is a victory for Democrats and anyone who cares about the right of all Americans to vote. But it’s important to understand that the North Carolina law differs from other voter restrictions Republicans have passed in that its discriminatory intent was so blatant.

Editorials: When Does Political Gerrymandering Cross a Constitutional Line? | Adam Liptak/The New York Times

The Supreme Court has never struck down an election map on the ground that it was drawn to make sure one political party would win an outsize number of seats. But it has left open the possibility that some kinds of political gamesmanship in redistricting may be too extreme. The problem, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in a 2004 concurrence, is that no one has come up with “a workable standard” to decide when the political gerrymandering has crossed a constitutional line. Finding such a standard has long been, as one judge put it, “the holy grail of election law jurisprudence.” In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will consider an appeal from a decision in Wisconsin that may have found that holy grail. The case, Gill v. Whitford, No. 16-1161, arrives at the court in the wake of a wave of Republican victories in state legislatures that allowed lawmakers to draw election maps favoring their party.

Editorials: The Commission to Round Up the Usual Suspects | Justin Levitt/Take Care

Repeatedly, throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump claimed that the 2016 election was “absolutely being rigged.” Not only in the sense of an allegedly distorted media narrative, “but also at many polling places.” He specifically claimed, for example, that there was “large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” The assertions persisted after the election, not merely from a candidate but from the President-Elect and then President of the United States.  He stated that there was “serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California” (all states in which he did not prevail).  He further stated that he lost the popular vote only because 3-5 million peoplevoted illegally.” State and local officials actually supervising the election process have, in bipartisan fashion, consistently rebutted these claims. In litigation over recount proceedings, the President’s own attorneys consistently rebutted these claims

Editorials: Maryland Democrats’ faux redistricting reform | The Washington Post

With its preposterously gerrymandered congressional voting districts, Maryland is an outstanding example of why states need nonpartisan redistricting reform. But the redistricting bill that emerged this year in Annapolis — in equal parts cynical and ludicrous — makes clear that the Democrats who dominate both houses of the General Assembly there remain loath to part with the incumbent-protection racket that enables them to choose their voters and perpetuate their grip on power with scant regard for good governance. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Craig J. Zucker (D-Montgomery), is an Alphonse-and-Gaston arrangement, except that in this case there is not one Gaston but five. It would establish a nonpartisan commission to draft the state’s congressional districts — so far so good — but only if five other Eastern Seaboard states agreed in lockstep to do the same. (They are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.)

Editorials: Online Voting Won’t Save Democracy – but letting people use the internet to register to vote is a start | Bruce Schneier/The Atlantic

Technology can do a lot more to make our elections more secure and reliable, and to ensure that participation in the democratic process is available to all. There are three parts to this process. First, the voter registration process can improved. The whole process can be streamlined. People should be able to register online, just as they can register for other government services. The voter rolls need to be protected from tampering, as that’s one of the major ways hackers can disrupt the election. Second, the voting process can be significantly improved. Voting machines need to be made more secure. There are a lot of technical details best left to the voting-security experts who can deal with the technical details, but such machines must include a paper ballot that provides a record verifiable by voters. The simplest and most reliable way to do that is already practiced in 37 states: optical-scan paper ballots, marked by the voters, counted by computer but recountable by hand. We need national security standards for voting machines, and funding for states to procure machines that comply with those standards. This means no Internet voting.

Editorials: The Voting Technology We Really Need? Paper | Lawrence Norden/The Atlantic

In January, America’s main intelligence agencies issued a report concluding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, using a combination of cyber-intrusion, espionage, and propaganda. In addition to the details provided in this account, media outlets have since reported that several election databases were hacked before and after the election. While the Department of Homeland Security found no evidence any of these efforts manipulated vote tallies, the assaults have left many Americans asking: Just how safe are voting machines from cyberattack? The answer is not reassuring. For more than a decade, independent security experts have repeatedly demonstrated that many electronic voting machines are dangerously insecure and vulnerable to attack and manipulation by bad actors.

Editorials: Loss of Texas straight-ticket voting will force down-ballot candidates to change strategies | Gromer Jeffers Jr./Dallas Morning News

Straight-party voting in Texas is on the way out — for now. A bill outlawing the popular practice sailed through the House and is expected to win easy approval in the Senate. If one-punch voting goes away, voters will be asked to wade through ballots containing numerous candidates, many of them obscure. In 2014, Dallas County had more than 100 candidates on a single ballot. So, many voters chose to cast a single vote for all the candidates from the party of their choice. Repealing straight-ticket voting won’t have much impact on races at the top of the ballot. Voters across the state are generally aware and somewhat informed about the high-profile contests for governor and Senate. Even races like district attorney and county judge are in the minds of most voters.

Editorials: Moldova’s Proposed Electoral Change Is a Blow to Democracy. The EU Must Oppose It. | Cristina Gherasimov/Chatham House

A proposal to change to a mixed electoral system in Moldova would entrench corruption and harm the young democracy. EU and other Western governments should use their economic clout to stop it. If free and fair elections were held in Moldova today, the current ruling Democratic Party would win about 4 per cent of the vote. Under the country’s current proportional representation system, this would not secure them any seats in parliament.

Editorials: Donald Trump’s Firing of James Comey | The New York Times

The American people — not to mention the credibility of the world’s oldest democracy — require a thorough, impartial investigation into the extent of Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump and, crucially, whether high-ranking members of Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded in that effort. By firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey, late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation into what could be one of the biggest political scandals in the country’s history. The explanation for this shocking move — that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency — is impossible to take at face value. Certainly Mr. Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated missteps in that case, but just as certainly, that’s not the reason Mr. Trump fired him.

Editorials: Can math stop partisan gerrymandering? | Sam Wang and Brian Remlinger/LA Times

Of all the problems in our democracy, near the top of the list is partisan gerrymandering. Because legislators reserve for themselves the power to draw district boundaries, dozens of seats across America are uncompetitive and tens of millions of citizens are left with little influence over who represents them. This fall, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to remedy the offense — with the help of a little math. Polarization is what makes partisan gerrymandering possible. As citizens sort themselves into neighborhoods of like-minded people, self-serving legislators can draw boundaries to artfully lasso them. Such jiggery-pokery creates districts where both parties have near-guaranteed wins. But there’s an asymmetry: the party in control — which in most states is the GOP — distributes its supporters to win as many districts as possible by small but safe margins, while packing the rival party’s voters tightly into far fewer districts.

Editorials: The Kremlin turns its electoral meddling to Western Europe | The Washington Post

By now it should be clear that the new normal of Russian conduct on the international stage includes tampering with elections in Western democracies to boost candidates the Kremlin believes likely to do its bidding and to harass those who won’t. Having done exactly that in the 2016 U.S. elections, President Vladimir Putin’s intelligence agencies are now directing their subterfuge at Europe, including the continent’s foremost economic powers: Germany and France. The immediate targets of Russian cyber-meddling are Emmanuel Macron, the front-runner in the second and final round of France’s presidential election, set for May 7, and think tanks associated with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose governing coalition faces elections this fall. Like Hillary Clinton, whose campaign was similarly in the Kremlin’s crosshairs, neither Mr. Macron nor Ms. Merkel has been shy about condemning Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine. They have backed economic sanctions against Russia that have infuriated Mr. Putin.

Editorials: Who should vote in party primaries? Contested ideas of party membership | Susan Scarrow/OUPblog

One of the many controversies that emerged in regards to fair voting in the 2016 US Presidential campaign revolved around rules in some states which required voters to choose their party primary far in advance of the actual primary election. Complaints about these rules arose in both major parties, with supporters of two insurgent candidates (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) claiming that rules were rigged in favor of party “establishment” candidates. A year later, these issues from spring 2016 may seem like minor – even quaint – electoral issues in light of other accusations about improprieties in the 2016 election, including President Trump’s accusations of voter fraud, and Congressional inquiries into Russian election interference. Yet the issues are worth revisiting, not least because they are likely to spark intra-party controversies in coming years as party factions strive to gain the upper hand for subsequent primary elections. Beyond the struggle for power, the question of principle is: who should be entitled to make the parties’ most important decisions?

Editorials: Why are British voters in the dark about this week’s elections? | Joe Mitchell/The Guardian

ity the local elections, overshadowed again. Last year it was the EU referendum, this year it’s a general election. Voters will make the short walk to a polling station on Thursday more out of duty than of passion. Because information is so sparse on these elections, voters will cast their ballots without truly knowing what or who they are voting for. The UK will miss yet another opportunity to improve our trust in politicians, to boost our sense of being engaged in political decisions and to strengthen our belief in our ability to create change. Any potential “Brexit bump” in political interest and awareness is unlikely: the Hansard Society’s recent audit of political engagement shows interest in, and knowledge of, politics falling to around 50%. Just 31% of citizens say they are satisfied with our system of governance.

Editorials: Prevent the reckless restructuring of the FEC | Brad Smith/Columbus Dispatch

Imagine you are a Republican. Would you agree to let the rules of political campaigns be written by a partisan committee selected by Barack Obama? Or if you’re a Democrat, do you think Donald Trump should be able to appoint a partisan majority to determine the rules? Of course not. That’s why for more than 40 years, Republicans and Democrats have agreed that campaign regulations should be enforced by an independent, bipartisan agency. The Watergate scandal that forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency showed the dangers of allowing one party to use the power of government against the other. In the aftermath, the Federal Election Commission was created to make sure future administrations could not abuse campaign regulations to bludgeon their opponents.

Editorials: Meddling in the French Election | The New York Times

There may be some question whether Russia was behind the hacking attacks on one candidate’s computers or is covertly meddling in some other way in France’s politics. But Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was most likely on target when he said that the Russians are “actively involved in the French elections.” Whether Russia’s efforts are effective is another question; yet another is how to counter them. Moscow’s interest in the election is not hard to understand. France has been a pillar of the European Union, an important member of NATO and pivotal on maintaining sanctions on Russia.

Editorials: Why won’t Congress really investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia? | Douglas L. Kriner and Eric Schickler/The Washington Post

Politicians, pundits, and scholars alike routinely call Congress the “broken branch.” Most often, they note its abysmally low level of legislative productivity recently, a trend that even the return of unified Republican control of government has failed to reverse. But Congress’s feeble efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election may be an even more startling and serious institutional failure. The House inquiry has been plagued by infighting and missteps. The most notable so far was the clandestine meeting to share intelligence between chief investigator, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and the White House he was charged with investigating. While the Senate investigative committee has pledged a thorough probe, it’s done little so far. It has held no high-profile hearings. Until very recently, it had no full-time staff, and its few part-time staffers have no investigative experience or expertise with Russia.

Editorials: Purging voter rolls doesn’t weed out fraud — it weeds out voters | Frederick News Post

Maryland has found itself in the crosshairs of the conservative activist group Judicial Watch, which has thereatened to sue the state if a better effort isn’t made to clean up its voter rolls. Earlier this month, the group sent a letter to the Maryland State Board of Elections to complain that there are more registered voters in Montgomery County than there are voting-age residents. Judicial Watch argues the overage demonstrates that there is “strong circumstantial evidence” that non-citizens may be registered to vote in heavily-Democratic Montgomery County, which is also Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction.

Editorials: Texas’ redistricting methods discriminate against minorities while politicians shrug | Dallas Morning News

Three times in a matter of weeks, federal courts have found that Texas is intentionally discriminating against minority voters. Yet fixing problems with its voter identification law and its congressional and statehouse district maps isn’t on the Legislature’s front burner. In fact, it isn’t anywhere near the stove. This could come back to burn Texas. In the absence of legislative courage, the state could face a court-ordered redistricting or even a return to a requirement that it gain federal approval before changing any voting regulations.

Editorials: Time is running out to explain Missouri’s new voter ID rules | The Kansas City Star

Missouri is heading toward a slow-motion pile-up in about six weeks, when the state’s new voter ID law kicks in. State officials, including Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, must speed up efforts to educate Missourians about coming changes to their fundamental right to vote. After June 1, barring legal intervention, Missouri law will require voters to present an acceptable form of photographic identification to cast a ballot. Alternatively, those without a photo ID will be required to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, attesting to their name and address. Election authorities will be allowed to take a picture of the voter. Those provisions are onerous enough in a state where turnout is typically, and depressingly, low. But it will scare some voters, particularly the poor and elderly, who may be reluctant to sign a legal document they don’t fully understand in order to cast a ballot.

Editorials: Now we know how bad voter fraud is in North Carolina | Charlotte Observer

At last, we know how badly photo voter ID is needed in North Carolina. For years, Republicans in North Carolina have alleged that in-person fraudulent voting is widespread while Democrats have said it is non-existent. But no one knew for sure, leaving the two sides talking past each other on voter ID. On Friday, the State Board of Elections released the results of an extensive, objective audit of the 2016 election. It found that 4,769,640 votes were cast in November and that one (1) would probably have been avoided with a voter ID law. One out of nearly 4.8 million.

Editorials: Voter ID bills across the nation undermine faith in our democracy | Danielle Lang/The Hill

The Iowa legislature sent a strict voter ID bill to the governor’s desk last week. If the governor signs the bill, which he is widely expected to do, Iowa will be the first state in 2017 to pass a new law that burdens the right to vote. But it likely won’t be the last. Thus far, 29 states have introduced 87 bills that would restrict access to the ballot. These bills align with a troubling trend toward state laws that make it harder rather than easier to vote. But while the restrictions are familiar, the rationale employed is new and startlingly cynical. Lawmakers for years have tried and failed to prove in court that these laws can be justified by the need to prevent nearly non-existent in-person impersonation voter fraud. Now, they argue that this strict voter ID law is necessary to address the “perception” of fraud. Iowa state representative Ken Rizer told the New York Times, “It is true that there isn’t widespread voter fraud … but there is a perception that the system can be cheated. That’s one of the reasons for doing this.”

Editorials: The Indian Election Commission’s challenge to show hacking of electronic voting machines needs to be backed with an action plan | Poorvi L Vora/Scroll.in

The controversy over electronic voting machines refuses to die down. There continue to be allegations, claims and counter claims about election rigging. Some of the claims, we read, were due to misreporting or do not stand up to scrutiny. Every time a claim about malfunctioning EVMs is found to be false, it hurts public understanding of the real issue: elections that use EVMs are anything but transparent. Sixteen opposition parties have written to the Election Commission asking to revert to the use of paper ballots, In turn, the Election Commission is said to have issued a challenge to political parties, scientists and technical experts to prove that EVMs could be tampered with. This could be a step in the right direction. But it cannot be all.

Let’s not forget that such a so-called challenge was also given in 2009. The examination of EVMs should be treated as an opportunity to make the process more transparent and open. In 2009, however, when the Election Commission allowed the public to examine EVMs, the examination was hugely circumscribed so as to prevent anyone from carrying out any substantive – albeit practical – attack.

Editorials: Kris Kobach’s hollow victory | The Topeka Capital-Journal

It has been almost two years since the Legislature gave Secretary of State Kris Kobach the power to prosecute voter fraud in Kansas, and he just secured his first conviction of a former non-citizen who voted in the state. Although Victor David Garcia Bebek became a naturalized U.S. citizen two months ago, he voted twice in 2012 and once in 2014. After his office announced Bebek’s guilty plea, a triumphant Kobach immediately started attacking his political rivals: “No matter how many cases we prosecute the political left will always whine that there’s not enough cases to justify protecting our elections in this way. That’s absurd.” Kobach makes it sound as if the “political left” is ignoring the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that non-citizen voting is a rampant crisis in our state. But the record doesn’t agree with this assertion – between 1995 and 2013, there were only three documented cases of non-citizens voting in federal elections in Kansas. While Kobach argues that county prosecutors haven’t been pursuing voter fraud cases vigorously enough (one of his reasons for demanding prosecutorial authority in the first place), his single non-citizen conviction in 22 months doesn’t provide much support for that claim.

Editorials: Kobach finally convicts an immigrant, but Kansas is paying a price | The Kansas City Star

Hand out the celebratory cigars. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach finally nabbed himself an immigrant. Pardon if we don’t order the band to play. Kobach announced Wednesday that he’d achieved an elusive goal — catching an immigrant who voted illegally in a Kansas election. Victor David Garcia Bebek of Wichita pleaded guilty to voter fraud. The Peruvian native’s voting record was uncovered after he registered to vote and it was discovered that he’d already voted three times in past elections. It’s a misdemeanor. A cautionary note for those tempted to crow that the case confirms the nonsense about undocumented immigrants committing widespread voter fraud: Bebek was discovered after he gained U.S. citizenship this year. He was legally present in the country when he cast previous votes.