Editorials: Voter ID – The Smokescreen Of The Pickles Report | Michael Abberton/The Huffington Post UK

The Pickles report entitled Securing the Vote has very little to do with electoral fraud, and everything to do with vote suppression – the disenfranchisement of minorities and the poor. It also has hidden within it another insidious motive – local ‘voluntary’ registers of resident foreign nationals. The report was sneaked out right in the middle of the Xmas holidays, when parliament is not in session, obviously as the government hoped it might not get the scrutiny it warrants. The report is quite short and is based on Pickles’ involvement in the Tower Hamlets case, after the mayor was accused of electoral fraud (though no evidence of criminality was found). There are measures in the report that are based specifically on the allegations from that case; for example, electors being influenced to vote a certain way by religious leaders, something that the report recommends there should be legislation to stop (but how that would apply to bishops equally as it would to imams or other community leaders isn’t discussed).

Editorials: When ‘fraud’ is just another word for disenfranchisement | Kevin J. Hamilton and Jonathan S. Berkon/The Washington Post

For years, “voter fraud” has been a conservative rallying cry, used to justify ever more demanding voter identification and registration requirements. During the post-election face-off between Republican incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor-elect, Republican claims of voter fraud were put to the test. With few exceptions, they rather dramatically failed. On election night, Cooper led by more than 4,900 votes out of more than 4.5 million cast. Thousands of absentee and provisional ballots remained to be counted. Yet rather than let the counting process naturally play out, McCrory launched a series of baseless fraud allegations against voters. The North Carolina Republican Party churned out daily warnings of “dead voters,” “double voting,” “absentee ballot mills” and “absentee ballot harvesting.” Sounded awful. The only problem: For the most part, it wasn’t true. Let’s start with “dead voters.” Sounds bad and conjures images of ballots fraudulently cast in the name of the deceased. Except that’s not what this was about. This allegation was actually about voters who were alive at the time they voted but had died before Nov. 8. But because they were not alive on Election Day, these votes could be challenged and disallowed. We can debate that approach, but it hardly constitutes fraud.

Editorials: North Carolina’s HB2 impasse has its roots in gerrymandering | Bob Phillips/News & Observer

When state lawmakers couldn’t come together to repeal House Bill 2, it was just another sorry reminder of the toxic partisan divide that often renders the N.C. General Assembly dysfunctional. Compromise, trust and honest brokering seem to be out of reach for this body of elected officials that arguably has more impact on our lives than any other level of government. So what happened and why? The inability to repeal HB2 is a symptom of what is a grave threat to our democracy: partisan gerrymandering. When the majority party, whether it’s Democrats or Republicans, gets to draw its own districts for its own advantage, our whole elective system becomes unfair. The proof is in the legislative maps – illogically shaped districts creating a jigsaw puzzle covering our state, making lawmakers virtually unaccountable to voters. Consider our incoming legislature that will be sworn in this January. More than 90 percent of them ran uncontested in November or won their election by a comfortable double-digit margin. Largely because of gerrymandering, citizens have no choice and no voice in our elections.

Editorials: Verifying vote should be norm | Lou Novak/The Detroit News

From the moment that Jill Stein requested a presidential recount in Michigan, Donald Trump and his Republican cronies have tried to thwart it at every turn. Despite their obstructionism, the recount began earlier this month but was stopped a few days later. The recount opponents prevailed after an onslaught of political maneuvers and lawsuits that finally found favor in the Republican bench of the Michigan Court of Appeals. It’s a sad day for our democracy when politicking prevails over ensuring the integrity of our election system. And in the media’s coverage of the political play-by-play, we missed the forest for the trees. Throughout this election, voters have endured implications, rumors, and outright accusations about a “rigged” system—vocalized frequently by none other than the president-elect himself, who then did an about-face and fought tooth and nail to prevent the verification of the vote.

Editorials: North Carolina no longer a democracy | Andrew Reynolds/News & Observer

In 2005, in the midst of a career of traveling around the world to help set up elections in some of the most challenging places on earth – Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Sudan and Yemen, among others – my Danish colleague, Jorgen Elklit, and I designed the first comprehensive method for evaluating the quality of elections around the world. Our system measured 50 moving parts of an election process and covered everything from the legal framework to the polling day and counting of ballots. In 2012 Elklit and I worked with Pippa Norris of Harvard University, who used the system as the cornerstone of the Electoral Integrity Project. Since then the EIP has measured 213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place. When we evolved the project I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy.

Editorials: One person, one vote is a myth | William Chafe/News & Observer

Ever since our nation’s founding, the issue of equal voting rights has been central to our definition of democracy. After we fought the Civil War to end black slavery – the ultimate contradiction of living in a free republic – the country enacted the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution. Black people were guaranteed equal protection under the laws; black men earned the right to vote. Women too had demanded the suffrage, a battle they finally won with ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. And in a fight waged under the slogan “one person, one vote,” the civil rights movement secured enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Finally, it seemed, America had guaranteed the right of every citizen, black or white, male or female, to have equal access to the polling place – one person, one vote. Alas, it was not true. One reason was the existence of the Electoral College, an institution that by design sought to deny one person, one vote. Almost always, this denial was connected to the issue of race.

Editorials: Russian Meddling and Europe’s Elections | The New York Times

While revelations about Russian involvement in the American presidential election rock the United States, there are ominous signs that Russia is spreading propaganda and engaging in cyberattacks in Europe in advance of several national elections next year. In 2017, Germany, France and the Netherlands will hold elections. It is also possible that Italy will move elections scheduled for 2018 forward in the wake of the resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi after voters rejected a referendum on constitutional reforms this month. Candidates who are right-wing populists and friendly toward Russia are gaining ground across Europe, thanks, in part, to Russian interference along the lines of what Moscow was accused of doing in the United States. Russia’s goals in Europe appear to be to elect foreign leaders who are sympathetic to Russian expansionism, to weaken NATO and to fan anti-European Union forces. In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front party benefited in 2014 from an $11.7 million Kremlin loan to help finance its campaigns. And the winner of the center-right Les Républicains party’s recent primary elections, François Fillon, has called for lifting sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and its war in Ukraine, and for working with Russia to curb immigration and prevent terrorism.

Editorials: I was the target of a Russian smear campaign. Now I understand the power of fake news. | Anne Applebaum/Chicago Tribune

We were told in June that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked by Russians. We were told in October that material subsequently passed on to WikiLeaks came from the same source and that President Barack Obama was considering a response. Numerous articles were written about these leaks and about Donald Trump’s many Russian connections. And yet no one was really outraged until now. Why? I have a theory: Until you have seen for yourself how 21st-century disinformation works, you laugh at the very idea of it. Once you have understood its power, you stop laughing. If I was slightly ahead of the curve, it’s because — like everyone who ever wrote critically about Russia — I saw early on how it worked. A couple of years ago, I was the focus of a smear campaign, elements of which could have been lifted out of a spy novel. In the wake of the invasion of Crimea, I was writing quite a bit about Ukraine, when nasty little articles about me started appearing on Russia-based websites.The technique was th e same as that used by people who later dressed up the stories from the emails of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta: Mix truth and lies — my book contract and royalties were described as mysterious income from questionable sources — make ludicrous claims, pass on the lies to other Russian-backed websites, and then pass it on again.

Editorials: Guam, other territories deserve a real vote in House | Pacific Daily News

Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo and other U.S. territory representatives need to push Congress to give them — and all those Americans they represent — a real voice in our nation, not some meaningless, token measure. Bordallo and representatives from the other U.S. territories are asking the U.S. House of Representative to again give them a symbolic vote during the Committee of the Whole, as they had in the 110th Congress and 111th Congress. Delegates from the territories can vote in the committees on which they serve, but not in the Committee of the Whole ­— in which all representatives serve to consider measures involving money issues — or on the floor during session.

Editorials: Why the Green Party Continues to Demand Presidential Recounts | David Cobb/The Nation

Presidential recounts are not about changing election results. At least, that is not their primary purpose. At their core, recounts are about ensuring confidence in the integrity of the voting system. It is unfortunate, if not all that surprising, that the two largest corporate-controlled political parties have chosen to stand in the way of these grassroots-demanded recounts—in the case of Republicans, actively blocking them in the courts; in the case of Democrats, capitulating in their refusal to push for them. In an election marked by so many irregularities, public distrust and outright evidence of hacking, Americans deserve to know now more than ever that the election was accurate and secure. That is the ultimate goal of this and every recount: to restore confidence in our elections and trust in our democracy. Consider the 2004 recount, for example. As the Green Party candidate for president that year, I led efforts to organize recounts in Ohio and New Mexico, in the wake of widespread complaints about the obstruction of legitimate voters, mostly in majority-black precincts, and tampering with computer voting machines on Election Day. The Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik supported our efforts, but the Democrats, led by nominee John Kerry, were silent. The investigations sparked by that recount did not change who won the electoral votes in New Mexico or Ohio. They did, however, uncover glaring problems with our voting system. A report published by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, spearheaded by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. John Conyers, found conclusive evidence that more than 100,000 voters—many concentrated in communities of color—were disenfranchised during the election. Among the irregularities caused by the intentional, illegal behavior included some 90,000 spoiled ballots, the improper purging of tens of thousands of voters by election officials, and improbably high turn out in certain counties, even surpassing 100 percent in some cases.

Editorials: Investigate Russian Hacking the Right Way | The New York Times

President-elect Donald Trump will assume office next month dogged by the question of whether a covert ploy by the Russian government had a decisive effect on his election. While a conclusive answer is likely to remain elusive, American voters deserve as many details as can be ascertained about Russia’s role in the campaign, to better protect the political process from similar interference in the future. The assessment by American intelligence agencies that the Russian government stole and leaked Clinton campaign emails has been accepted across the political spectrum, with the notable exception of Mr. Trump. The House speaker, Paul Ryan, called Russian meddling “unacceptable,” and said that under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow “has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests.” Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said in a recent interview that the fact that the “Russians were messing around in our election” is a “matter of genuine concern.” Addressing the issue properly will require a bipartisan congressional investigation led by people with the authority and intent to get to the truth, however disturbing that might be for the incoming administration and the Republican Party. The intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian hacking was meant to help elect Mr. Trump.

Editorials: A dangerous gambit: The failed electoral-college rebellion bodes ill for future elections | Steven Mazie/The Economist

The last-ditch effort by some Democrats to thwart a Donald Trump presidency ended in a fizzle on December 19th. The 538 members of the electoral college—the body that officially elects America’s chief executive, as ordained by Article II of the constitution—handed the real-estate magnate 304 votes, two shy of the total he was projected to win after the people voted on November 8th but a comfortable 34 votes more than the 270 he needed to win a majority. Mr Trump is set to be inaugurated as America’s 45th president on January 20th. The ill-fated Hail Mary was lobbed by a number of liberal intellectuals, including Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor and short-lived 2016 presidential candidate. In an opinion piece for the Washington Post last month, Mr Lessig observed that Hillary Clinton handily won the national popular vote. Since electoral-college electors are “citizens exercising judgment,  not cogs turning a wheel”, they should feel free to ignore the popular vote totals in their home states. Electors should then stand up for the principle of “one person, one vote”, Mr Lessig suggested, and switch their allegiance to Hillary Clinton. Other advocates called on Trump electors to use their independent judgment to vote for another, more savoury Republican. If 38 electors would opt for the likes of John Kasich or Mitt Romney, Mr Trump would fall short of 270 and the House of Representatives would get to pick the president from among the top-three vote getters. The House would then be free to send a Republican other than Mr Trump to the White House.

Editorials: Virtually no fraud found in voting — no surprise | News & Observer

Despite their considerable victories in November’s elections, Republicans have lost badly on one issue – voter fraud. Republican-led states, most notably North Carolina, have passed laws preventing people from voting in the name of another or registering people who are not eligible to vote, even as those restrictions made it harder or impossible for thousands of eligible voters to cast a vote. It’s a necessary protection, Republicans maintain. Indeed President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that “millions” of people voted illegally.More than a mont h after the general election, a fine-combing of the results shows what opponents of restrictive voting laws have always contended: voting fraud is a myth used to justify the suppression of voters likely to vote Democratic. The New York Times reported this week that elections officials in 26 states and the District of Columbia had no cases of voter fraud. Eight other states said they had one allegation. This dearth of evidence comes out of an election in which 137.7 million Americans cast ballots and results in several states were closely examined through recounts. In North Carolina, where the Republican-led General Assembly passed the one of the strictest Voter ID laws in the nation, supporters of Gov. Pat McCrory combed through returns trying to overturn his narrow loss to Attorney General Roy Cooper. Almost all of the challenges were dismissed by Republican-controlled county election boards. Of 4.7 million votes cast, 25 were found to be wrongly cast by ineligible felons, most of whom may not have realized that their restriction voting extended not only to their time in prison, but through the duration of their post-release limitations.

Editorials: Faithless Electors: Now It’s Up to Congress | Derek T. Muller/Wall Street Journal

The 538 members of the Electoral College convened Monday and cast a majority of their votes for Donald Trump for president and Mike Pence for vice president. When Congress convenes on Jan. 6 to count the votes, it will mostly be a formality. But its decision to count or exclude the votes of some “faithless electors” will set a precedent for future elections. Faithless electors are those who are supposed to vote for the candidates named on the ballot but instead vote for someone else. States faced a number of faithless electors this year, mostly one-time supporters of Bernie Sanders. Democratic Party electors in Minnesota and Colorado were replaced when they attempted to vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton. A Maine elector attempted to vote for Mr. Sanders; his vote was ruled improper, and he changed his vote to Mrs. Clinton. A Hawaii elector broke a state pledge and voted for Mr. Sanders. Four Washington state electors violated a state pledge and cast three votes for Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle. Two Republican electors in Texas cast votes for Ron Paul and John Kasich. It is now the duty of Congress, which holds power under the Twelfth Amendment, to determine how to count the electoral votes from the several states.

Editorials: Time to End the Electoral College | The New York Times

By overwhelming majorities, Americans would prefer to elect the president by direct popular vote, not filtered through the antiquated mechanism of the Electoral College. They understand, on a gut level, the basic fairness of awarding the nation’s highest office on the same basis as every other elected office — to the person who gets the most votes. But for now, the presidency is still decided by 538 electors. And on Monday, despite much talk in recent weeks about urging those electors to block Donald Trump from the White House, a majority did as expected and cast their ballots for him — a result Congress will ratify next month. And so for the second time in 16 years, the candidate who lost the popular vote has won the presidency. Unlike 2000, it wasn’t even close. Hillary Clinton beat Mr. Trump by more than 2.8 million votes, or 2.1 percent of the electorate. That’s a wider margin than 10 winning candidates enjoyed and the biggest deficit for an incoming president since the 19th century. Yes, Mr. Trump won under the rules, but the rules should change so that a presidential election reflects the will of Americans and promotes a more participatory democracy.

Editorials: American democracy is being derailed. Can faith be restored? | Richard Wolffe/The Guardian

Now that the electoral college has formally selected the next president of the United States, it’s worth taking a deep breath and asking: what kind of democracy do we live in? The will of the people ought to be clear after an election. But as 2016 draws to a close, there are deeply troubling signs that American democracy – after 227 years of seeking a more perfect union – has left the rails. It turns out it’s possible to win the governorship in North Carolina but find the job is stripped of power before you’re sworn into office. And across the nation, we abide by the archaic rules of an electoral college that has all but renounced its first responsibility: to elect someone fit to be president. The Founders may have wanted to prevent demagogues from taking power, but party hacks ignored all that original intent. It makes you wonder why the candidates and voters abide by the rules of a game that nobody is interested in playing.

Editorials: The Painfully Vulnerable Election System and Rampant Security Theater | James Scott/ICIT

The first step to correcting the plague of cyber-kinetic vulnerabilities riddling our election system is to admit these problems exist, then bring in qualified personnel to expediently patch vulnerabilities, upgrade technologies and erect cyber defenses around the perimeters of targeted technologies such as manufacturer updates, voting machines and scanners, state websites, state servers and local and state tabulators. This quick blog post is a last attempt by cybersecurity experts to influence local and state election officials to patch the listed vulnerabilities existing within their space that could hinder the natural outcome of the election process. Figure 3 in this post is a checklist for state officials to use when analyzing their networks for vulnerabilities pre-election. The results of the 2016 elections will decide: the next President of the United States, the majority control of the Senate, the potential to appoint up to four Supreme Court justices, and numerous state and local level positions. While political tensions and opinionated discourse run rampant in the days before the election, it is paramount to the continued solidarity of the United States of America, that the integrity of the election process remains demonstratively uncompromised. Election systems are vulnerable at the local, state, and manufacturer level. The decentralization of the U.S. election system offers no benefit to security. The fallacy of the decentralization argument is the conclusion that because systems are not networked at the state level, the result of the national election cannot be affected. This simply is not the case. All decentralization means is that while some states secure election systems to various degrees according to the modern threat landscape, other states barely secure systems at all. Security through obscurity is not a defense. As discussed the Hacking Elections is Easy! report series, an adversary who targets local machines in a pivotal county of a swing state or that targets a state tabulation system directly, can significantly impact the results of a national election through the results of the target state. Local and State level election systems are vulnerable to exploit due to black-box proprietary code, exploitable features and insecure design, vulnerable removable media, interconnectivity, and antiquated cybersecurity strategies. With mere days before Election Day, state and local election officials have limited options available to mitigate a tide of partisan backlash and allegations of fraudulent results.

Editorials: GOP electors should demand intel briefing on Russian hacking, too | Brent Budowsky/The Hill

The CIA, the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence now agree that Russia engaged in aggressive covert action to affect the presidential election and hoped to achieve the election of Donald Trump as president and commander in chief by doing so. Every Republican elector should join the large and growing number of electors who have called for a full intelligence briefing about the extent and purpose of Russian attacks on American democracy, Russia’s interference in the recently concluded presidential campaign and Russia’s desire to elect Trump on Election Day. A large and growing number of Electoral College electors have already called on Obama administration intelligence officials to provide them with an intelligence briefing about the Russian role in the election. However, it is inexcusable that most GOP electors have not joined them. GOP electors should be asked by the media and voters in their states: Do you care if the Russians engaged in espionage for the purpose of electing Trump?

Editorials: Pennsylvania’s voting system is one of the worst | Candice Hoke/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In May 2006, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, launched an e-voting system, producing a nationally notorious election disaster in which every technical and management system failed. One of the largest election jurisdictions in the nation, the county used DRE touchscreens similar to Allegheny County’s. When the election tabulation database grew beyond what it was designed to handle — a flaw concealed by the manufacturer — it silently began dropping votes and other data, without notifying officials. An accurate recount was possible, however, because Ohio had required paper printouts of voters’ e-ballots. Recounts showed that some previously announced winners actually had lost. The hidden software problem did not extinguish anyone’s voting rights only because there was a paper trail. Experts in election technology have pointed out that most Pennsylvania counties — including Allegheny — use e-voting systems that have been outlawed by most states. The chief reason? The omission of voter-approved paper printouts that can be recounted and that allow for audits to check on the accuracy of the electronic machines. Even when voting systems are aged and vulnerable to hacking or tampering, durable paper ballots combined with quality-assurance audits can ensure trustworthy results. Cuyahoga County election officials, like many around the nation, have learned that, even though their voting machines are certified and function perfectly one day, on another day they may fail to count accurately. Software bugs — especially from updates, malware and errors in programming — can lead to unpredictable inaccuracies. Cuyahoga County now conducts an audit after every election, using paper ballots, which most Pennsylvania counties are unable to do.

Editorials: Michigan recount reveals voting outrages | The Detroit News

With the move to recount Michigan’s presidential ballots still tangled up in the courts, we may never know for sure whether it might have changed the outcome of the election. But we did learn some outrageous things about the state’s electoral process. The key revelation is that the system in many places is rife with incompetence that results in the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters who cast ballots that don’t get counted. In Wayne County, for example, one-third of the ballots cast on Nov. 8 would not have been eligible for recount because of handling irregularities; in the city of Detroit, it was half the votes. Had the recount been allowed to proceed, it would have been useless without those ruined Detroit and Wayne County ballots, and others from Genesee County and elsewhere.

Editorials: The ticking time bomb in Pennsylvania’s election system | Dan Lopresti/Philadelphia Inquirer

Our state’s voting machines are inherently flawed, and they cannot be trusted to accurately record or reflect the votes cast by the people of Pennsylvania. Whether it happens this month or not, the electronic voting systems in our state must undergo a full forensic evaluation by independent computer security experts. Without that evaluation and subsequent changes both in the machines and the procedures for using them, votes cast for our local, state and federal government will always be at risk for error or manipulation, and we can never be fully certain that the outcomes of our elections reflect the will of the voters. A number of years ago, I acquired two different electronic voting machines (known as DREs) from government surplus sales – the type used in Philadelphia County and the type used in Montgomery County – and, with Lehigh students, dismantled and examined them. In my assessment, none of the DREs used in Pennsylvania are capable of retaining a permanent physical record of each vote cast, which is required by the Pennsylvania Election Code. Many of the voting machines used in Pennsylvania, including those used in Philadelphia, create no permanent, physical record of each vote cast – in other words, these machines leave no paper trail. As anyone with a computer knows, data stored electronically is easily lost or corrupted. It would be comforting to think that voting machines are more sophisticated or secure than home or office computers, but in many ways, they are not. They are computers running software like all other computers running software, and they are vulnerable to the same kinds of problems as all of our other computers. Computer memory, including the memory that stores the votes in the voting machines used throughout the last election across Pennsylvania, can be written or rewritten with incorrect data as a result of software, hardware and human error, or as a result of intentional interference.

Editorials: Jill Stein has done the nation a tremendous public service | Jonathan S. Abady & Ilann M. Maazel/The Washington Post

As lead counsel in Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein’s quest to have votes recounted in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, we have been in court for the past two weeks trying to verify the integrity of the election and make sure that no one hacked our democracy. Some have cast Stein as a spoiler, or alleged that the recounts were futile, because they didn’t change who won the election. But the recount would only be futile if we, as Americans, ignored the lessons of the past weeks and preserved the status quo that is our broken voting system. To start, we must recognize that what we saw in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were recounts in name only. Though more than 161,000 people across the nation donated to the effort — and millions more demanded it with their voices — every imaginable financial, legal and political obstacle was thrown in the way of the recounts. In Michigan, a state court shut down the recount after only three days. In Wisconsin, instead of hand counting all paper ballots — the “gold standard” of election auditing — many ballots were fed into the same electronic machines used on Election Day, producing the same potentially faulty results.

Editorials: Jill Stein Pulls Back the Curtain on America’s Voting Chaos | The American Prospect

Let’s acknowledge that Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein’s now-halted bid to recount the vote in three Rust Belt states served principally to earn her a lot of free media and fatten her political fundraising email list. Stein failed to furnish any evidence of the “hacking” and “security breaches” that her many press releases and public comments alleged, but she did scoop up $7.3 million from more than 160,000 donors in less than three weeks. Nevertheless, Stein’s arguably self-serving drive to recount votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin performed an important public service. As Stein noted this week in a press call to mark the end of her recount effort, she did spotlight some troubling weaknesses in the nation’s election system. Voting in America continues to be plagued by malfunctioning machines, byzantine rules, and insufficient cross-checks and audits to ensure that ballots are properly tallied. Stein’s recount bid captured the paradox of this year’s super-charged debate over voting. The most sensational claims and counter-claims about this year’s election—that the system was “rigged” and riddled with fraud, as Donald Trump alleged, or that voting machines may have been tampered with, as Stein herself declared—lacked any empirical evidence to back them up. But there was plenty of evidence that the more-pedestrian, nuts-and-bolts basics of election administration, particularly when it comes voting machines, are still not up to snuff. The system produced no major crisis this year, as Florida’s hanging chads did in the 2000 contested election, but that may simply be because the country dodged a bullet. Competing allegations of voter suppression, voter fraud, and Russian hacking—albeit of emails, not voting machines—have also damaged public confidence, making the need for a well-functioning, credible system all the more urgent.

Editorials: What We Learned from the Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania Recounts | Marc Elias/Medium

Two weeks ago I published a Medium post outlining how the Clinton campaign would respond to Jill Stein’s plan to seek recounts in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. I explained that we had not planned on seeking recounts because we had not uncovered actionable evidence of hacking or tampering with voting systems, equipment or results. However, I made clear that we would participate in any recount initiated by others to ensure the process proceeded in a manner that was fair to all sides. Though many have mischaracterized our efforts, I acknowledged in my Medium post (and subsequently in a Washington Post Q&A) that the results were not likely to change materially and that “the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.” With the recounts no longer in process, and the electoral college safe harbor date now upon us, I wanted to write to update our supporters and detractors on how the process worked (or did not work) and what we learned.

Editorials: The Case For Automatic Voter Registration In Hawaii | Honolulu Civil Beat News

With Hawaii’s voter turnout in the 2016 election at only 55 percent (down from 66 percent in 2012) of registered voters, it’s time to look at new ways to add voters to the voter rolls. Democracy works better when more people participate, and with such dismal participation rates, a law that puts the onus on the citizenry to decline to participate further may be called for. Online voter registration is now available, and same-day registration will be an option in 2018. But one action the Legislature can take in its next session is to allow automatic voter registration when you apply for or renew a driver’s license or state ID. Currently when eligible citizens apply for or renew their driver’s license or state ID, they have to fill out a voter affidavit in addition to the standard application form in order to be registered to vote. Automatic voter registration reverses this. Instead of having to opt into the registration program, all eligible citizens are registered to vote by default, except for those who choose not to be.

Editorials: Virginia Cracks the Code on Voter ID Laws | Noah Feldman/Bloomberg

One of the most remarkable things about voting where I do, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is that no one asks you for identification: Who you are is based on trust. But that charming civic experience may not be long for this world. Although several voter ID provisions were struck down before the 2016 election, an appeals court has now upheld Virginia’s law — and in essence provided a road map for how states can require ID without violating the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution. The law upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit resembles the laws struck down by other courts. Enacted in 2013, the law, known as S.B. 1256, requires voters to show ID, allowing them to cast provisional ballots if they don’t have it with them and to “cure” their ballots by presenting valid ID up to three days later. The state also accepts many forms of ID. What makes the law a little different from some others is that, if a voter lacks ID, the state board of elections has to issue one free — even if the voter shows up to the board without any documentation.

Editorials: Amid national election concerns, Connecticut goes the wrong way | Luther CT Viewpoints

About half the states, including Connecticut, have both paper ballots and post-election audits. Because our audits were transparent and publicly verifiable, Connecticut Citizen Election Audit observers have been able to reveal multiple flaws in the process and in the official reporting of audit results. Earlier this year, however, the General Assembly unanimously cut Connecticut’s the audits from 10 percent of districts to 5 percent. Now there is more bad news: our already inadequate audits have been partially replaced by electronic “audits” which are not transparent and not publicly verifiable. Instead, we now have “black box voting” augmented by “black box auditing.” This should satisfy only those with blind trust in computers and blind trust in insiders with access to the “audit” computers. Last week, without public notice, seven Connecticut municipalities conducted electronic “audits” under the guidance of the UConn Center for Voting Technology and the Secretary of the State’s Office, using the Audit Station developed by the Voter Center. There is a science of election audits. Machine-assisted audits can offer efficiency and ease of use, but any audit process needs to be transparent and provide for independent public verification of the results. Machine-assisted manual audits in California and Colorado demonstrate how this can be achieved. Public verification begins with publicly rescanning the ballots and providing the public with a computer readable list of how each ballot was counted. Then selecting a small random sample of the ballots and comparing the actual voter verified ballots to the record of how the machine counted them.

Editorials: Recounts should be the norm, not the exception | Carsten Schürmann & Jari Kickbusch/Los Angeles Times

Jill Stein, her supporters and a group of experts struggled mightily to get proper recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. They were accused of paranoia and of simply wasting time. Why is it so difficult, and so controversial, to get the results of a U.S. presidential election inspected and verified? Audits should be mandatory in all states; in fact, they’re part of the foundation of a healthy democracy. Recounts not only are important for finding proof that voting machines were misconfigured or hacked. In a meaningful recount, evidence representing the voter’s intent is compared against the published vote totals. Even if a recount proves that everything went as intended, it’s a way to reassure the public — especially the losing side — that the announced winner of the election is legitimate. A recount is comparable to checking the receipt before leaving the local grocery store. Some check, some don’t, but overall, we all agree that the ability to check a receipt is worth the paper it is printed on.

Editorials: 3 Reforms for America’s Vulnerable Democracy in Light of the 2016 Election | Robert Schlesinger/US News

The end is near. All remaining political disputes – recounts, in this case – must be wrapped up by Tuesday, six days before Dec. 19 when the members of the Electoral College meet in their respective states and ratify Donald Trump’s election to the presidency. The last procedural twitches of controversy from the 2016 election, in other words, are drawing to their inevitable close. But the book closing on the 2016 elections is a good time to take stock and consider reforms that this year has made painfully clear the system needs. After all, this election has inarguably highlighted serious vulnerabilities in the political system that need to be remedied because they are not unique to this year. I’ve got three common-sense ideas on that score. The first two reforms we ought to undertake are interrelated and have to do with ensuring the security, and thus the legitimacy, of the vote, whether from error – manmade or mechanical – or malicious attacks.

Editorials: Russia’s Hand in America’s Election | The New York Times

It’s not hard to see why Russia would have been tempted to tip the scales in America’s presidential election. American defense officials have been warning about Russia’s capabilities and dangerous intentions, calling Moscow the gravest threat to the United States. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, made it clear her administration would redouble efforts to punish and isolate Moscow for war crimes in Syria’s civil war and its aggression toward Ukraine and other neighbors. “I’ve stood up to Russia,” Ms. Clinton said during a debate in the fall. “I’ve taken Putin on and I would do that as president.” In Mr. Trump, the Russians had reason to see a malleable political novice, one who had surrounded himself with Kremlin lackeys. Mr. Trump bragged that the Russian president had once called him “brilliant.” In July, Mr. Trump said he hoped Russia would hack and divulge more of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, an astonishing invitation to a foreign power that appeared already to be meddling in an American election.