The United States is an outlier in the democratic world in the extent to which politicians shape the rules that affect their own electoral fortunes. Federal campaign finance policy is administered by a feckless Federal Election Commission, whose three Democratic and three Republican commissioners routinely produce gridlock instead of effective implementation of the law. The conditions under which election ballots are cast and counted—from registration to voting equipment, ballot design, polling locations, voter ID requirements, absentee ballots and early voting—are set in a very decentralized fashion and prey to political manipulation to advantage one party over the other. And while most countries with single-member districts (such as Canada, Britain and Australia) use nonpartisan boundary commissions to redraw lines so they reflect population shifts, in America, most state legislatures create the maps for both congressional and state legislative districts through the regular legislative process. They make their own luck.
Editorials: An ill wind (and partisan politics) threatened Florida voting rights | Fred Grimm/Miami Herald
If this case had come out of a state other than Florida, the federal judge would have only been belaboring the obvious. But Judge Mark Walker knew that Gov. Rick Scott was in sore need of some basic civics. “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live,” Judge Walker wrote, quoting the late Justice Hugo Black from a landmark 1964 Supreme Court decision. “Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.” In this case, Hurricane Matthew had contributed to the undermining. Hundreds of thousands of coastal residents had heeded Gov. Scott’s warning and fled inland as the storm menaced Florida. Government offices were closed. Mail delivery was disrupted. All this as the Oct. 11 registration deadline approached for Floridians hoping to cast ballots in the general election.
Editorials: Donald Trump’s strategy for minority Americans? Don’t let them vote. | The Washington Post
With Donald Trump’s polling numbers in a tailspin, he has doubled down in calling on Republican vigilantes to take matters into their own hands to thwart what many of them are primed to regard, without proof, as a rigged election. The Republican nominee’s rhetoric, inciting white rural and suburban voters who fear the voting clout of black urban Democrats, is a recipe for voter intimidation and even violence on Election Day. It also lays the groundwork for his followers to believe, if he loses,that his defeat was a historic swindle. Starting in August, and accelerating this month, Mr. Trump has stood before rallies attended overwhelmingly by his white backers and urged them to go to “certain areas” on Election Day. “Go and vote and then go check out areas because a lot of bad things happen,” he said in Pennsylvania, where lax state laws allow poll watchers to challenge voters as they arrive at precincts. “You know what I’m talking about,” he added. On Monday, he told his followers that they must watch “other communities.” “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 said. “And everybody knows what I’m talking about.”
It’s a truism of modern politics that Republicans have placed voting rights under assault in the states they control. Ever since the G.O.P. landslides in the midterm elections of 2010, Republicans have worked to restrict the right to vote in a variety of ways—by cutting back on opportunities for early voting, making absentee voting more difficult, and imposing photo-I.D. requirements at the polls, to name only the best known methods. In 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court, with a majority of 5–4, gave Republicans the green light to continue their efforts by gutting the Voting Rights Act. The Shelby decision effectively ended the federal government’s supervision of voting rights in states, mostly in the South, that had histories of discriminating against minority voters.
Editorials: New state laws discourage registering immigrants. How will that affect the Latino vote? | Heath Brown/The Washington Post
On Oct. 3, Latino Decisions released results of a poll of Latino voters, with fairly predictable results. Most respondents – 67 percent – rate Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton favorably, while 77 percent hold a dim view of Republican nominee Donald Trump. But here’s a surprising statistic: Only 38 percent said that any organization has encouraged them to register or vote. That’s more than the 31 percent who said they were asked during the last presidential election, but below the typical rates for whites, which was 43 percent (based on post-2012 election survey data). Other minority and immigrant groups have similar experiences. This year, only 30 percent of Asian Americans said that any group or party had gotten in touch to urge them to register or vote. Why? Most of the nonprofit groups that work with recent immigrants offer such services as language classes, job training, housing placement and public health support. They stay away from anything election-related, even voter registration. In my new book “Immigrants and Electoral Politics,” I show that’s partly because they fear that doing anything political could jeopardize their nonprofit tax status. I took up this research in part because very little scholarship had investigated these groups’ political activities.
Of the many troubling things that Republican candidate Donald Trump has said during this U.S. presidential election campaign, the most worrisome may be his claim that the November vote will be “rigged” and that he might not accept the results when polls close. At the first presidential debate last month, the moderator had to twice ask Trump before he said that he would accept the outcome if defeated by Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. Four days after the debate, he reversed himself, saying instead, “We’re going to have to see what happens.” It is hard to imagine a statement more corrosive for U.S. democracy. The authority of the president ultimately rests on his (or her) legitimacy as the winner accepted by all electors, even those that did not vote for him (or her). A loser, and especially one who has decried a political system that systematically disenfranchises significant parts of the public, who refuses to accept that verdict undermines the very foundation of the American political system and the individuals who exercise power through it. This disrespect for the democratic process is the most dangerous element of the Trump candidacy.
In August, when a divided Supreme Court let stand an appeals court decision striking down North Carolina’s photo ID requirement for voters, the matter might have seemed settled. The provision, which requires voters to present government-issued photo identification, strikes directly at people who don’t have driver’s licenses — the state’s poor and disabled, young adults and the elderly, and particularly minorities. The Fourth Circuit Court pointed out that the law deliberately targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision,” and deemed it unconstitutional. Yet more than a month after the appellate court ruling and days after the Supreme Court decision, election officials in North Carolina’s Alamance County sent packets to newly registered voters advising them on one page that photo ID was still required and on another page that it wasn’t.
The election is four weeks from Tuesday , and easily lost in the seasonal outpouring of candidate speeches and debates, polls and fact-checking is this sad reality: The U.S. has witnessed the greatest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era in recent years, yet federal authorities will have fewer resources to deal with polling place disputes than at any time over the last half-century. To suggest that is a troubling circumstance is a serious understatement. For a half-decade or more, Republican-controlled states from Georgia to Alaska have been piling up rules that effectively make it more difficult for minorities and the poor to cast a ballot, chiefly through strict voter ID laws and registration requirements. This year, there are 14 states using more restrictive voting laws for the first time (and there would be more if federal courts hadn’t recently tossed out several of these discriminatory laws as unconstitutional).
“The election is going to be rigged—I’m going to be honest,” Donald Trump said to a rowdy crowd in August, at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “People are going to walk in and they’re going to vote ten times, maybe,” Trump told an interviewer later. A few days afterward, in Pennsylvania, where Trump was then lagging by nine points in the polls, he warned supporters that “the only way we can lose . . . is if cheating goes on.” That week, a new page appeared on his campaign Web site, inviting concerned citizens to volunteer to be “Trump Election Observers” so that they could “help me stop Crooked Hillary from rigging this election!” At the first Presidential debate, Trump and Hillary Clinton were asked whether they would accept the ultimate outcome of the election. Trump evaded the question at first, before winkingly conceding that he would. But after the debate he went right back to his routine—more talk of rigging. Those polls that said Clinton had won the debate? They were skewed against him, he said, just like Google was, with its suspiciously pro-Clinton search results. At campaign stops this week, Trump reiterated his claims that Clinton was out to steal the vote. He even told the Times that he was reconsidering whether he’d accept a Clinton victory at all.
Editorials: Hurricane Matthew could have devastating consequences for the election | Richard Hasen/Slate
If Hurricane Matthew is as devastating to Florida as forecasters have predicted, it could be a human tragedy costing people their lives, health, homes, and personal property. Beyond that initial tragedy, though, the storm also may have dire electoral implications, potentially affecting the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and landing emergency election litigation from Florida once again before the (now-deadlocked) United States Supreme Court. Florida is seen as a state key to Donald Trump’s chances of victory over Hillary Clinton for the presidency, and this storm could have major impacts on voter registration and voting. Voter registration in Florida closes in just five days. According to Professor Dan Smith of the University of Florida, in the last five days of registration in 2012, 50,000 Florida voters signed up to vote. Many who might normally sign up to vote at the last minute are now following Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s order to flee the affected areas of the state, and they are not likely to register to vote on their way out or drop ballots in closed post offices or soon-to-be-flooded post office boxes. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has already called for voter registration deadlines to be extended, but the Republican governor has already turned down that request.
Editorials: Alabama’s grossly unconstitutional felony disenfranchisement scheme | Mark Joseph Stern/The Atlantic
In 1901, Alabama passed a constitution that stripped voting rights from any person who committed a “crime involving moral turpitude.” The purpose of this disenfranchisement, the president of the convention explained, was to “establish white supremacy in this state”; Alabama labelled those offenses more frequently committed by blacks as crimes “involving moral turpitude” in order to purge minorities from the voter rolls. In 1985, the Supreme Court unanimously invalidated the “moral turpitude” provision as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. But 11 years later, the state quietly reinserted the same words into its felony disenfranchisement law. Today, the statute has helped to disenfranchise 250,000 Alabamans, most of them black. Indeed, a stunning 15 percent of otherwise qualified black voters in Alabama can’t cast a ballot because of the state’s felony disenfranchisement law. A new lawsuit spearheaded by the Campaign Legal Center argues that the statute is a gross violation of Alabamans’ rights under both the Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution.
Editorials: Upgrading California’s voting systems is long overdue | Gregory Miller/San Jose Mercury News
Can you imagine using the same mobile phone that you used in 2005? Neither can I. Yet, the technology that runs our elections hasn’t changed in more than a decade. Anyone who has voted in California knows well that our voting machines are in dire need of an upgrade. Some counties, including Santa Clara, use paper ballots. Election officials desperate to shore up antiquated voting technology have resorted to buying spare parts at online auctions just to keep their machines working. It’s estimated that 70 percent of all voting machines nationwide need to be replaced before the 2020 election, a third of that before 2018. The state and, for that matter, our country can no longer rely on vulnerable technology that depends on spare parts and is susceptible to bad actors.
Editorials: Texas’s Voter-Registration Laws Are Straight Out of the Jim Crow Playbook | Ari Berman/The Nation
At 10 am on a Tuesday morning in September, Babatunde Adeleye, a 33-year-old naturalized US citizen from Nigeria, arrived at the Bexar County Elections Department in San Antonio. It’s a brand-new building in an otherwise unappealing industrial park along the interstate, 10 minutes south of downtown. There were inspirational posters on the wall featuring American flags and sunsets, highlighting words like “success” and “momentum.” Tunde, as everyone calls him, stood up, raised his right hand, and took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State.” He was being deputized not as a cop, but instead to register voters. The parallels, however, were impossible to ignore: Texas treats voter registration like a criminal offense and makes it as difficult as possible to do. Tunde grew up in Lagos and studied petroleum engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He got a job in the oil fields of Oklahoma but was laid off when the industry went bust. He became a citizen last year, so 2016 marks the first presidential election he can vote in. After moving to San Antonio three months ago, he began working with MOVE San Antonio, a progressive nonprofit that registers young voters. “I come from a background where poverty was the order of the day,” Tunde says. “The first step to empowering people to have a say in their community is to register them to vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say.” Before he could register anyone, however, Tunde had to navigate Texas’s draconian voter-registration laws, beginning with this course. The state has no online registration, and anyone who registers voters must be deputized by the county at a training session that typically occurs once a month, sometimes less. The volunteer deputy registrars (VDRs), as they’re known, must be deputized on a county-by-county basis, and they can only be deputized in counties adjacent to their own, which makes statewide drives practically impossible in a massive state like Texas, with its 254 counties.
Editorials: Changing votes isn’t the only way hackers could undermine an election | Zoe Lofgren/Slate Magazine
When the House Committee on Science recently held a hearing on cyber vulnerabilities and our elections systems, the committee focused only on threats facing the actual systems of voting—tabulations, electronic machines, and the possibility of a “rigged election.” Experts who testified at the hearing agreed that a threat to widespread vote manipulation across many different precincts and jurisdictions is very small and unlikely. But dismissing the likelihood of cybertampering with the election tally misses an important point: Cyberattacks could shake public confidence in political institutions, sow dissent and distrust among the population, and tilt the electoral playing field. In an attack this spring, hackers—who I have been advised are from Russia —stole data from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They also stole voting data in Arizona and Illinois. Most recently, FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials have confirmed attempted attacks on voter registration systems in more than 20 states. These attacks align with a particular pattern that Russian-sponsored hackers have followed previously in well-documented attempts to influence foreign democratic elections in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and Philippines. They don’t just release stolen sensitive material; they also create false and counterfeit material designed to impact the outcome of elections.
For years, states have been sounding the alarm about voter fraud and pushing laws to prevent it. One such law would require voters to prove their citizenship, with a birth certificate, passport, or the like, before casting a ballot. This month a federal court slapped down proof-of-citizenship laws, but not for good. The opinion leaves wiggle room, and state lawmakers are not giving up. They are, however, wasting their effort. Anti-fraud measures can make elections safer in some circumstances, but usually they either have no effect (other than creating red tape) or make matters worse. My research proves it. Let’s get up to speed. In 2004, Arizonans approved an initiative requiring voters to prove their citizenship before they could vote. In 2013, the Supreme Court held [PDF] that federal law—specifically, the National Voter Registration Act—preempted the initiative. That Act requires states to use a form, developed by the federal Election Assistance Commission, to register voters for federal elections. The form requires would-be voters to swear, under penalty of law, that they are US citizens. States can ask the EAC to add state-specific instructions to the federal form, including additional requirements on citizenship, but they cannot demand it. Other states—Alabama, Georgia, Kansas—adopted laws like Arizona’s, and they worked many channels to get them enforced. But their efforts failed. States courts, federal courts [PDF], and the EAC [PDF] put proof of citizenship on ice.
Editorials: Top-two reform tilts California toward one-party rule | Larry N. Gerston/Los Angeles Times
Since California’s Proposition 14 passed in 2010, all partisan candidates — except those running for president — appear on the same primary ballot, regardless of party. Then the two leading contenders face off in the general election. Like so many other electoral reforms in the state, this top-two primary system isn’t shaking out quite as intended. Reformers promised more moderate candidates and more competitive races. Instead we’ve got something that looks like one-party rule. The race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is exhibit A. State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez were the survivors of a free-for-all nominating contest with 34 candidates, including Democrats, Republicans and a litany of minor party and independent candidates. But in deep blue California, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than a 3 to 2 margin, it should be no surprise that Democrats Harris and Sanchez prevailed.
Editorials: To safeguard the vote, we can start by replacing our old machines | Mary Sanchez/Alaska Dispatch News
How vulnerable to tampering or malfunction will our electoral system be Nov. 8 when millions show up to cast their ballots? It’s a topic of considerable interest. “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have got to be honest,” Trump told Ohio voters in August, according to CBS News. He was not being honest. He was hedging the possibility that he will be the loser. However, there are serious problems that need attention. For example, America’s voting machines are aging. Many are approaching the end of their intended lifespan. Voting machines are designed to last about 10 to 15 years, and a significant number in the U.S. are beginning to face the end of their cycle. They aren’t exactly held up with baling wire and twine, but cause for concern exists. A full 42 states have voting machines that are at least a decade old, and 14 states have some polling places that lack a paper trail to backtrack and recheck the tallies.
Here’s the background of the Newby case. Kansas, Georgia and Alabama have been trying to make voting harder for voters through a series of restrictive voter ID laws. Another approach of these states has deployed is forcing voters to produce documentary evidence that they are American citizens when they register to vote. Asking for documentary proof of citizenship may sound reasonable enough, at first blush, but this runs afoul of the federal “motor voter” law which bars states from asking for additional information when voters register to vote using a standard federal form. The whole point of the motor voter law (whose formal name is National Voter Registration Act of 1993), was to make it easier for eligible Americans to register to vote when they were at the local DMV. While the legislators who pass these restrictive voting laws may think they are barring non-citizens from voting, instead these laws can disenfranchise regular Americans, especially those who were born at home instead of a hospital. These Americans may find it difficult, or well neigh impossible, to produce documentation of their birth proving that they are who they know they are: American citizens.
Editorials: Are U.S. elections ‘rigged?’ Here’s how to help voters believe that they’re not. | R. Michael Alvarez, Lonna Rae Atkeson and Thad E. Hall/The Washington Post
This August, the U.S. election system was cast into doubt. Donald Trump suggested that it might be rigged – presumably to help Hillary Clinton win. Russians allegedly hacked voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois, although, according to the FBI, they didn’t succeed in tampering with voter rolls. Such comments and events have the potential to undermine Americans’ confidence that U.S. elections are run fairly — concerns usually brought up by those whose candidate lost the election, as Paul Gronke, Michael W. Sances and Charles Stewart III wrote here last month. Part of the reason that U.S. democracy is so stable — and that citizens accept election results instead of, say, rioting and setting the Capitol on fire — is that most American voters are confident that their ballots are counted accurately in our elections. That’s what we’ve found in our research over the past decade. And that confidence can be improved or harmed by how state and local election officials manage elections — whether their favored candidates win or lose.
Will this year’s presidential election be rigged, as Donald Trump has predicted? It’s highly unlikely, and that’s true whether we’re talking about scary new threats, like cyber-hacking by the Russians, or old-fashioned ballot-box stuffing of the sort that ostensibly has led Trump to recruit his own poll watchers. We’re much more likely to see the kind of unintentional ineptitude that plagued the 2000 presidential race. As an old adage, often invoked by election scholars, goes: “Never attribute to malevolence what is explicable by incompetence.” But this is not to say that American democracy is immune to allegations of ill-willed vote rigging. Even if Trump said in Monday’s debate that he would support Hillary Clinton “if she wins,” he and his supporters could very well be convinced in their own minds that she did not. Then what happens? Consider Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state and the one I worry most about this year, since it uses electronic voting machines without paper backup. Suppose that on Election Night, Pennsylvania’s secretary of state announces that Clinton has won the state, and with it the presidency, but Trump says, “Prove it.” The secretary of state responds, “That’s what the machines tell us.” Trump responds, “Well, how do I know that the machines weren’t hacked?” What is the secretary of state supposed to say then?
After FBI Director Jim Comey warned a congressional panel on Wednesday that hackers are “poking around” voter-registration systems in various states, law-enforcement officials told CNN that the U.S. suspects Russian involvement. ABC News reported that nearly half of U.S. states have come under cyberattack from hackers affiliated with Russia, which helps explain Comey’s comment during Wednesday’s hearing that the FBI is looking into “just what mischief is Russia up to in connection with our election.” … So why did Donald Trump stand on a debate stage this week and equivocate on the DNC hack? … It’s not like Trump waffled onstage because he truly didn’t have the information that Clinton had. A U.S. intelligence officials told Time that the government’s confidence in Russia’s involvement in the DNC hack was covered in one of Trump’s intelligence briefings.
An enormous spike in the number of Haitian migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico over the past year prompted the Obama administration this month to order a sudden policy reversal and served as a reminder of the dysfunction and despair driving people from the hemisphere’s poorest nation. Better prospects in Haiti depend on political stability, which is at a make-or-break juncture. With a redo, scheduled Oct. 9, of last year’s failed, allegedly fraud-ridden presidential vote, Haiti has a chance to regain a measure of prosperity following years of mismanagement and suffering. It must seize that chance. A devastating earthquake in 2010 led U.S. officials to adopt a lenient stance toward Haitian migrants without visas, who have been granted admission and temporary work permits on the grounds that conditions in Haiti were so dire. The administration abruptly reversed course this month after more than 5,000 Haitians, many of whom had undertaken an odyssey through South and Central America, were processed through the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego since last October. Just 339 Haitians crossed there in all of fiscal 2015.
One of the last questions asked of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at Monday night’s debate at Hofstra University deserves to be revisited. Moderator Lester Holt asked both candidates whether, if they lost the election, they accept the results as the “will of the voters.” Both indicated that yes, they would (although Mr. Trump agreed to support Ms. Clinton so reluctantly — it required a follow-up question from Mr. Holt — that reporters felt compelled to confirm his position afterward). In any other presidential race, a question about recognizing the will of the voters would be regarded as a softball — the answer so obvious that surely no debate prep was needed. After all, what kind of presidential nominee seeks to delegitimize the essential process that sustains the greatest democracy on earth? But these are not ordinary times. The nation’s voting system faces a very real threat from computer hackers. That much was made clear with the breach of a voter information database in Illinois this summer. Election boards across the country — including Maryland’s — were put on alert by federal authorities out of concern for potential vulnerabilities.
Editorials: Courts need to protect rights of Kansas voters because Kris Kobach certainly isn’t | The Kansas City Star
In court after court, judges are being asked to protect the voting rights of thousands of Kansas citizens this year. And in case after case, the courts are coming down on the side of letting those Kansans participate in elections — despite the misguided efforts of Secretary of State Kris Kobach to keep them out of voting booths. Just this week, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel upheld an earlier ruling that Kansas couldn’t prevent citizens from voting because they didn’t provide proof of citizenship when registering. The most compelling reason offered by the court was that Kobach and other supporters of this tactic had provided far too little proof that any fraudulent voting was going on. That legal case comes on top of two others swirling around Kobach, including a potentially chilling one for his political career, which involves a contempt of court accusation.
The electoral dirty work done by dozens of state legislatures in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision Shelby County v. Holder is the focus of determined legal challenges by voting-rights advocates, and decisions are coming down at a dizzying pace. Not every court involved has come down in favor of voters, but there’s encouraging evidence that judges, including conservatives, recognize state laws purportedly passed to ensure “voting integrity” for what they really are: suppressive tactics. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County, state legislators representing nearly half the country rolled back effective reforms and erected new barriers to voting. It was a throwback to the era before the 1960s, when Jim Crow laws finally triggered passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
If a couple ballot measures pass on Nov. 8, Colorado could move a bit closer to the goal of becoming an actual democracy, 140 years after it achieved statehood. Propositions 107 and 108 would restore the presidential primary election to the state and allow all registered voters, including those who are unaffiliated, to participate. So, if these measures pass, in 2020 Coloradans won’t have to depend on folks in places like Iowa and New Hampshire to select presidential candidates. It’s a step in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go. Why, in 2016, with all our whiz-bang technology, is it still so hard to vote? (Let’s pause here while we contemplate the obvious cynical reasons.)
Editorials: Automatic voter registration would boost Utah democracy | Chase Thomas and Judi Hilman/The Salt Lake Tribune
The “right to vote” is mentioned five times in the Constitution — more than the right to free speech, the right to bear arms or the right to privacy (which most of us believe is a fundamental right but is not even mentioned in the Constitution). It is then shocking to learn that many do not consider voting to be a “right” and that millions of people every year are denied this basic democratic function. The Constitution protects a citizen’s right to vote regardless of race, gender and age, while prohibiting states from making it more difficult to vote through devices such as poll taxes. Despite these protections, there is no Constitutional provision that guarantees every United States citizen the right to vote. As a consequence, states have, for years, used a variety of “creative” means to limit some citizens’ ability to vote.
How does a lie come to be widely taken as the truth? The answer is disturbingly simple: Repeat it over and over again. When faced with facts that contradict the lie, repeat it louder. This, in a nutshell, is the story of claims of voting fraud in America — and particularly of voter impersonation fraud, the only kind that voter ID laws can possibly prevent. Last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that nearly half of registered American voters believe that voter fraud occurs “somewhat” or “very” often. That astonishing number includes two-thirds of people who say they’re voting for Donald Trump and a little more than one-quarter of Hillary Clinton supporters. Another 26 percent of American voters said that fraud “rarely” occurs, but even that characterization is off the mark. Just 1 percent of respondents gave the answer that comes closest to reflecting reality: “Never.” As study after study has shown, there is virtually no voter fraud anywhere in the country. The most comprehensive investigation to date found that out of one billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014, there were 31 possible cases of impersonation fraud. Other violations — like absentee ballot fraud, multiple voting and registration fraud — are also exceedingly rare. So why do so many people continue to believe this falsehood?
Editorials: Russian hacker threat to hit US election must be taken seriously | Tim Stevens/New Scientist
It’s been a busy summer for Russian hackers. After a series of high-profile data breaches and threats, questions are being raised about the vulnerability of November’s US presidential election to cyber-interference and subversion. July saw the leak of Democratic National Convention emails, which embarrassed the Clinton campaign by revealing accusations of the party’s dirty tricks against Democrat rival Bernie Sanders. There was the infiltration of electoral registries in Arizona and Illinois, highlighting the insecurity of electronic voting systems. Both, arguably, boosted Donald Trump, the Republican nominee. Investigations into these breaches implicate Russia’s domestic and military intelligence agencies, the FSB and GRU, a charge Russia denies. But these claims have been unusually specific and backed with corroborating evidence. If true, they suggest Russia is unleashing new tools and tactics to pursue its objectives. Could it affect the outcome of the US election? And how should we understand the apparent escalation in Russian state-sponsored hacking?
In Russia’s parliamentary election on Sunday, Vladimir Putin’s party won three-quarters of the seats outright in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, and the rest indirectly, through parties loyal to him. It apparently did so without many voting irregularities, and despite a sluggish economy, sanctions imposed by the West and unrest in some quarters over the government’s crackdown on civil liberties. What gives? What gives is the sorry degree to which Mr. Putin and his Kremlin cronies have consolidated full control over Russian politics. Twenty-five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia appears to have returned full circle to a pseudo-parliament whose only function is to give a semblance of legitimacy to an authoritarian ruler. The post-Soviet Russian Constitution already granted more powers to the president and cabinet than to the legislature, but at least the Duma was a platform for the opposition to question and criticize Kremlin policies. Now even this function is effectively gone.