Here we go again. There’s been an election in Australia, so once more, with all the regularity of a cuckoo clock, politicians and pundits alike are proposing that electronic voting is the answer. So, here we go again, explaining why it’s a bad idea. First, if e-voting is the answer, what is the actual question? Here’s what troubles people this time. … Broadly speaking, there’s two kinds of e-voting: voting over the internet, and voting in person at polling stations where votes are recorded on computers rather than paper ballots. Whichever kind of e-voting we’re talking about, it has to solve a conundrum. How do we provide the complete transparency of process needed to eliminate fraud, while still maintaining the secrecy of individuals’ votes? As I wrote in 2011, transparency is the tricky bit. “Our paper voting system is easy to understand. Anyone with working eyesight and who can read and count can scrutineer the process. No special skills are required,” I wrote.
The thrilling spectacles offered by the U.S. presidential election, the U.K. referendum on leaving the European Union and even Austria’s cliffhanger presidential vote have overshadowed an election campaign in Russia, which will get a new parliament on Sept. 18. That’s because, even though they have all the the trappings of democracy, the Russian elections are mostly theater, whose actors are shadows from the country’s brief experiment with competitive politics. In theory, the elections shouldn’t be boring. The previous ones, in 2011, gave rise to the most meaningful and vigorous protests against Vladimir Putin’s corrupt system of his more than 15 years in power. Then, tens of thousands of Muscovites took to the streets to protest what they saw as the falsification of vote results: Statistical analysis suggested that United Russia, the pro-Putin party, owed its majority to widespread ballot-stuffing. It even appeared briefly that the Kremlin — occupied then by Putin’s stand-in, Dmitri Medvedev — was unsettled enough to change a few things. Gubernatorial elections, which had been abolished, were allowed again, and the authorities took care to make voting more transparent for the 2012 presidential election, organizing a live video feed from every polling station and making sure not to obstruct observers’ work. Putin, however, saw the protests as a U.S.-inspired threat of a revolution like the one would shake Ukraine in 2013-2014. As soon as his third presidential term began — after he pulled off an undeniable electoral triumph — he started tightening the screws, using the parliament — the State Duma — to pass legislation that sharply limited the freedoms of assembly and expression. The chamber came to be known as an “amok printer” because of the speed at which it spewed out repressive laws.
I began my college studies in computer science in 1985, and I watched as the Internet transformed the world over the last 25 years. As a computer scientist, I have an acute appreciation for the benefits of our global, interconnected network. I love the Internet. By all accounts, I am an early adopter. I was the first of all my friends with a cellphone and a mobile email reading device. I was the first to buy an Apple Newton; I hacked my own TiVo when the product was first introduced, and I use a smart doorbell and thermostat at home. I embrace technology and progress. Let’s put it all online. Find a way to automate this. Give me a high-tech way to do that. I do online banking, store my medical records in the cloud, and use wireless payments at the mall. My car, a 2013 Tesla, has its own Internet connection, and I navigate my boat with my iPad. So why am I stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to voting? Why do I believe in paper ballots instead of direct-recording electronic voting machines? And why do I believe that we will not be able to securely vote on the Internet in the foreseeable future?
Should voting sporadically in past elections be grounds to remove a voter from the election rolls? This is the issue being fought out in Ohio, the crucial swing state where a federal court recently upheld the controversial purging of scores of thousands of voters from the rolls for failing to participate in three consecutive federal elections. Updating voter rolls for accuracy, change of address and death is a routine task carried out by elections officials everywhere, but only a few states remove voters for reasons of inactivity. Ohio’s purge prompted a lawsuit by civil liberties groups accusing the Republican-controlled state government of engaging in suppression of minority and poor voters who tended to favor Democratic candidates. But last month, a federal district judge found that the policy of the Ohio secretary of state, Jon Husted, of purging a voter after six years of inactivity and failure to reply to a state warning did not violate “the integrity of the election process.” An appeal is being considered.
In April, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ordered voting rights restored to 206,000 ex-convicts in Virginia, a move in line with similar recent reforms in more than 20 states that have lifted the stigma of disenfranchisement from citizens who have served their sentences and paid their debts to society. The fact that Virginia’s list of newly eligible voters was prepared in haste and that it contained errors — including murderers still behind bars — is evidence of incompetence and slapdash execution. It is not an argument that the order is illegal or unconstitutional, as critics would have Virginians believe. Those critics, including top Republicans in Richmond as well as some prosecutors, insist that the state constitution allows the governor to restore voting and other civil rights to ex-convicts only on an individualized basis. As evidence, they point to the actions of recent governors who, while seeking to expand and accelerate the restoration of voting rights to former inmates, refrained from establishing a fully automatic system for doing so.
The Democrats are going on the offensive to make voting easier. The draft language in the party’s 2016 platform is much stronger than it was in 2012, and that’s mostly good for democracy. The party’s shift from its defensive crouch started in the states, with the adoption of automatic-voter registration rules in Oregon, California, West Virginia, Connecticut, Vermont and Illinois. Hillary Clinton endorsed these efforts last summer, and now the national Democratic platform is being written accordingly. The smorgasbord of measures includes an expected call to restore Voting Rights Act provisions that the Supreme Court weakened as well as a relatively new fight at the national party level for “voting rights for those who have served their sentences,” referring to former felons. Currently, many states delay restoring the vote to ex-felons, and some states have a lifetime ban.
Editorials: Electronic voting may be risky, but what about vote counting? | Robert Merkel/The Conversation
Several advantages of online voting were identified in a recent post by Conversation columnist and software researcher David Glance who backed the introduction of such a scheme in Australia. He is correct that an online voting system would be faster, more convenient and have fewer accidental informal votes. It would also reduce the donkey vote problem (though the “donkey vote” bias can also be dealt with by the use of Robson rotation on printed ballots). But in my view he dismisses the very real risks not only of actual election tampering, but something equally important – the confidence that Australian elections aren’t being tampered with. A vote-counting system not only needs to be secure against threats to its integrity, it needs to be seen to be secure against such threats. The right technologies, deployed in the right way, can assist with speeding up vote counts without putting the integrity of our voting system at risk. The place for that technology is not as a replacement for the paper ballot.
This November, we’ll have the first presidential election since the Supreme Court gutted some protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act back in 2013. Since then, every change in states freed from federal oversight was designed to make it harder for minorities, the poor, the elderly and the young to vote — most likely for Democrats, in states governed by Republicans. Only, it is not only minorities who will be affected. An unintended consequence of this suppression could be that poor, working-class white voters who want to register for the first time to vote for Donald Trump could find themselves shut out under the same rules designed to make it harder for more left-leaning minority voters to cast ballots. It was only after Congress passed the Voting Rights Act that African Americans and other minority voters began to enjoy the protection of federal law. Under that law, states with a history of minority voter suppression had to get “pre-clearance” for all changes in voting procedures and poll locations to make sure these changes didn’t keep eligible voters from casting ballots.
Donald Trump has made clear he’s a big supporter of strict voting laws. He worries that people can “sneak in through the cracks” of the system and vote “many, many times,” and that “illegal immigrants” are voting. “Look, you’ve got to have real security with the voting system,” Trump has said. That attitude makes sense. Trump may be trailing in the polls, and his cash-strapped campaign may be struggling to build a viable operation in key swing states. But the new wave of Republican-backed restrictions on voting — which look set to keep Democratic voters from the polls — could wind up being Trump’s ace in the hole if the race is close this fall. Tight voting laws also could boost the GOP in a host of House, Senate, governor, and state legislative races. That’s in part because many of the states that have imposed the strictest voting rules — think Wisconsin with its controversial ID law, or North Carolina, with a multipronged measure that critics call a “monster voter suppression law” — are pivotal battlegrounds. It’s also because minorities and young people — the very voters who are most turned off by Trump and the GOP, and on whom Hillary Clinton will be counting on for a strong turnout — are the ones most likely to be tripped up by barriers to the polls.
Nearly a month after the June 7 primary, California still is tallying ballots, a task that regularly dumbfounds the uninitiated with its snail-like immunity to speed. “Yes, They’re Still Counting the Presidential Primary Votes,” The New York Times carped last week, wondering how the cradle of high tech could have such inefficient elections. A week before, The Washington Post quoted Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters speculating that Sanders actually had won the Democratic primary but no one knew because of the slow vote count. In fact, California election results are the way they are because this state bends over backwards not to disenfranchise voters. This year, some in the Sanders camp actually worsened matters by switching parties at the last minute and casting provisional ballots, which have to be individually verified.
The right to vote is turning into a tooth-and-claw saga in Kansas, thanks to right-wing ideologues’ determination to force new voters to produce a passport, a birth certificate or naturalization papers as proof of citizenship. This is unheard-of in most of the nation, where aspiring voters are required only to swear to being citizens under penalty of prosecution for fraud. But in Kansas, the requirement that citizenship be documented has become a grave electoral impediment that is being challenged on two legal fronts. In the first, a federal district judge in May ordered the state to register thousands of people who had been denied federal voting privileges because they did not produce proof of citizenship when they tried to register at motor vehicle offices. Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the requirement violated the National Voter Registration Act provision that “only the minimum amount of information” is needed to certify a voter. The state is appealing her ruling.
There is nothing more important to American democracy than the participation of its citizens through voting. Voting in local, state and federal elections is a precious right that unfortunately is the subject of considerable confusion in Kansas these days. With the primary election less than a month away, Kansas remains mired in a number of court battles over which registered voters are allowed to vote and in which contests. Last week, a federal judge refused to block a decision by the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to require voters in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to present proof of citizenship to complete their registrations using a federal form. In other states, the federal voter registration form requires voters to swear under penalty of perjury that they are citizens but doesn’t require citizenship proof such as a birth certificate or passport. Legal action challenging the EAC decision still is active, but the judge said the decision should stand until the case is decided at trial.
Brexit is a turning point in the history of western democracy. Never before has such a drastic decision been taken through so primitive a procedure – a one-round referendum based on a simple majority. Never before has the fate of a country – of an entire continent, in fact – been changed by the single swing of such a blunt axe, wielded by disenchanted and poorly informed citizens. But this is just the latest in a series of worrying blows to the health of democracy. On the surface, everything still seems fine. A few years ago, the World Values Survey, a large-scale international research project, asked more than 73,000 people in 57 countries if they believed democracy was a good way to govern a country – and nearly 92% said yes. But that same survey found that in the past 10 years, around the world, there has been a considerable increase in calls for a strong leader “who does not have to bother with parliament and elections” – and that trust in governments and political parties has reached a historical low. It would appear that people like the idea of democracy but loathe the reality. Trust in the institutions of democracy is also visibly declining. In the past five years, the European Union’s official research bureau found that less than 30% of Europeans had faith in their national parliaments and governments – some of the lowest figures in years, and an indication that almost three-quarters of people distrust their countries’ most important political institutions. Everywhere in the west, political parties – the key players in our democracies – are among the least trusted institutions in society. Although a certain scepticism is an essential component of citizenship in a free society, we are justified in asking how widespread this distrust might be and at what point healthy scepticism tips over into outright aversion.
The Iowa Supreme Court issued the mother of all cop-outs Thursday. And, in so doing, reinforced Gov. Terry Branstad’s draconian voter disenfranchisement of more than 50,000 Iowans. In a 4-3 decision, rendered along partisan lines, Chief Justice Mark Cady strains to avoid upsetting the apple cart, a problem created by the vagueness of “infamy” as the state Constitution’s standard for disenfranchisement. Yes, words change, Cady admits. Victorian psuedo-scientific voting bans on “idiots” and the “insane,” appearing in the original state Constitution, are long gone, he notes. And, yes, Iowa’s excessively harsh approach to voting rights disproportionately affects black communities thanks to flaws in the application of justice, Cady concedes. But, he concludes, the courts — the body designed to interpret words written by long-dead men — shouldn’t get involved in a provision that cedes access to the most important democratic right to the whims of a governor. It’s the very court that, just two years ago, redefined the outdated term, “infamy,” to exclude misdemeanor convictions that included jail time. And it’s the very court that, in its landmark 2009 ruling legalizing gay marriage, recognized the Constitution’s living, breathing status. Astonishing.
Editorials: Only 58% of Indigenous Australians are registered to vote. We should be asking why | Paul Daley/The Guardian
The last week of the federal election campaign opened with news that Indigenous people in Western Australia’s Kimberley region are seven times more likely to take their own lives than other Australians. If ever a revelation might halt an election in its tracks, prompt politicians and the media who trail them around Australia on their set-piece campaign operations, to pause and reflect for a day – even an hour or a moment – then a disclosure of such tragic human import should, surely, have done so. But the major party caravans just bumped along, each attacking the other with fallacious claims about alleged changes to Medicare and border protection policies. While policy argument was anchored in the illusory, there was no substantive, mainstream political engagement with this real tragedy in the Kimberley. The social, political and economic indicators of Indigenous Australian wellbeing have, since the 1950s, been an acute source of international embarrassment to Australian federal and state politicians. Indeed, international opprobrium – which rightly lumped Australia’s treatment of its first people in with South Africa’s apartheid regime – were, together with the burgeoning civil rights movement, instrumental in delivering the federal vote to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 1962.
Editorials: The Secret Power Behind Local Elections | Chisun Lee and Lawrence Norden/The New York Times
When the history of elections in 2016 is written, one of the central points is likely to be how little voters knew about the donors who influenced the contests. At the federal level, “dark money” groups — chiefly social welfare nonprofits and trade associations that aren’t required to disclose their donors and, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, can spend unlimited amounts on political advertising — have spent three times more in this election than they did at a comparable point in 2012. Yet the rise of dark money may matter less in the race for president or Congress than for, say, the utilities commission in Arizona. Voters probably know much less about the candidates in contests like that, which get little news coverage but whose winner will have enormous power to affect energy company profits and what homeowners pay for electricity. For a relative pittance — less than $100,000 — corporations and others can use dark money to shape the outcome of a low-level race in which they have a direct stake. Over the last year, the Brennan Center analyzed outside spending from before and after the 2010 Citizens United decision in six states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts — with almost 20 percent of the nation’s population. We also examined dozens of state and local elections where dark money could be linked to a particular interest.
Editorials: Brexit, “Regrexit,” and the impact of political ignorance | Ilya Somin/The Washington Post
Since last week’s Brexit vote, new evidence has emerged suggesting that the result many have been influenced by widespread political ignorance. In the immediate aftermath of the vote, there was a massive spike in internet searches in Britain asking questions like “What is the EU?” and “What does it mean to leave the EU?” Obviously, reasonably well-informed voters should have known the answers to these questions before they went to the polls instead of after. The aftermath of Brexit has also spawned the so-called “Regrexit” phenomenon: Britons who voted for Brexit, but now regret doing so because they feel they were misinformed about the likely consequences, or did not consider them carefully enough. A petition on the British Parliament website calling for a revote has collected over 3.4 million signatures (Parliament is required to consider any petition that gets over 100,000 signatures, though it does not have to grant it).
Sometime around October 20, 1788, Patrick Henry rode from his seventeen-hundred-acre farm in Prince Edward, Virginia, to a session of the General Assembly in Richmond. Henry is now famous for having declared, on the eve of the Revolution, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”—a phrase it’s doubtful that he ever uttered—but in the late seventeen-eighties he was best known as a leader of the Anti-Federalists. He and his faction had tried to sink the Constitution, only to be outmaneuvered by the likes of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. When Henry arrived in the state capital, his adversaries assumed he would seek revenge. They just weren’t sure how. “He appears to be involved in gloomy mystery,” one of them reported. The Constitution had left it to state lawmakers to determine how elections should be held, and in Virginia the Anti-Federalists controlled the legislature. Knowing that his enemy Madison was planning a run for the House of Representatives, Henry set to work. First, he and his confederates resolved that Virginia’s congressmen would be elected from districts. (Several other states had chosen to elect their representatives on a statewide basis, a practice that persisted until Congress intervened, in 1842.) Next, they stipulated that each representative from Virginia would have to run from the district where he resided. Finally, they stuck in the shiv. They drew the Fifth District, around Madison’s home in the town of Orange, to include as many Anti-Federalists as possible.
Editorials: Brexit: a journey into the unknown for a country never before so divided | Andrew Rawnsley/The Guardian
In the speech announcing his resignation, David Cameron included a list of the things he was proud to have done as prime minister. I suspect you glazed over at that point. So will future biographers of his premiership. He has just become one of those leaders who will be remembered for a single enormous mistake. Neville Chamberlain had achievements to his name before appeasement. There was more to Anthony Eden than the Suez debacle. Lord North had a career before he lost America. But each of those premiers is defined by their one towering disaster. So it will be with David Cameron, the prime minister who accidentally ruptured more than four decades of his country’s economic, security and foreign policy by losing the referendum on Europe. That will be the inscription etched deep on his tombstone. He staked his reputation and gambled his country’s place in the world on a referendum for which his party ached but the public hardly clamoured. He timed the vote and chose a moment that has proved to be a calamity for the cause to which he became a belated, and thus not very convincing, champion. He destroyed his premiership because he misjudged the politics and mishandled his enemies. The man who arrived as leader of his party pledging to purge its obsession with “banging on about Europe” has blown himself up over Europe. And potentially much else besides. With Nicola Sturgeon seizing on the perfect rationale for another attempt to gain independence for Scotland, he may also be remembered as the man who unravelled the United Kingdom, achieving the double whammy of expelling his country from one union and breaking an even older one.
Editorials: Brexit earthquake has happened, and the rubble will take years to clear | Rafael Behr/The Guardian
There is a difference between measuring the height of a drop and the sensation of falling; between the sight of a wave and hearing it crash on to the shore; between the knowledge of what fire can do and feeling the heat as the flames catch. The theoretical possibility that Britain might leave the European Union, nominally the only question under consideration on the ballot paper, turns out to prefigure nothing of the shock when the country actually votes to do it. Politics as practised for a generation is upended; traditional party allegiances are shredded; the prime minister’s authority is bust – and that is just the parochial domestic fallout. A whole continent looks on in trepidation. It was meant to be unthinkable, now the thought has become action. Europe cannot be the same again. The signs were always there, even if the opinion polls nudged Remainers towards false optimism at the very end of the campaign. Brexit had taken the lead at times and always hovered in the margin of error. But the statistical probability of an earthquake doesn’t describe the disorienting feeling of the ground lurching violently beneath your feet.
Most Americans last heard from conservative lawyer Jim Bopp six years ago when he crafted a case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that won the Supreme Court’s favor and helped uncork a torrent of cash—some of it secret—that continues pouring into elections. But Bopp is back. The Terre Haute, Indiana-based attorney, who was literally laughed at by a judge when he made his first arguments in Citizens United, is now the lead lawyer in the most prominent of a series of lawsuits attempting to further destroy political contribution limits. The case, brought by the Republican Party of Louisiana, addresses restrictions on how state and local political parties use “soft money” contributions to influence federal elections. Bopp’s clients argue that if independent outside groups such as super PACs are permitted to raise and spend unlimited amounts of such money, there’s no reason why state political parties, acting independently of federal candidates, should be treated differently. Political parties are “disadvantaged” compared with super PACs, Bopp said in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity. “They want to compete, and they want to do this activity without the severe restrictions that they suffer under,” said Bopp.
On April 22, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a sweeping executive order that changed the lives of 200,000 ex-felons in Virginia, instantly restoring their right to vote. This order leaves only Kentucky, Florida and Iowa with blanket lifetime disenfranchisement policies for ex-felons. In these three states, no citizens convicted of a felony are allowed to vote, regardless of the crime committed, absent government-granted exceptions to the policy. Governor McAuliffe’s act is a reminder that public support for giving ex-felons the right to vote after prison is significant, and growing—but this type of order doesn’t go far enough. Ex-felons should be able to vote, yes. But so should prisoners themselves.
Editorials: Want to help end voter suppression? Junk the caucuses. | Jim Kessler/The Washington Post
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have vowed to tear down barriers to voting, especially for the poor and minorities. The Democratic Platform Committee has already heard testimony calling for changes to make it easier to vote. But no one is calling for a change Democrats could make to remove barriers to voting in their own party: junking caucus elections that are elitist, inconvenient, intimidating, anti-Democratic and suppress the vote. If voter suppression is truly a Democratic concern, consider that fewer people participated in the 17 caucus races in the recently completed Democratic nominating contest than those who turned out for the Wisconsin primary alone. These 17 caucus races with minuscule turnout selected 528 earned delegates to the convention. Wisconsin, where roughly the same number of voters cast a ballot, chose just 86 delegates. If that seems undemocratic, it is.
Editorials: The Gutting of the Voting Rights Act Could Decide the 2016 Election | Ari Berman/The Nation
On June 21, 1964, the civil-rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner were abducted in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and brutally murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. The killings in Mississippi, where only 6.7 percent of African Americans were registered to vote in 1964, shocked the nation and helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Yet opponents of the VRA never stopped fighting the law. Ronald Reagan, who called the VRA “humiliating to the South,” kicked off his general-election campaign for president in 1980 at the nearly all-white Neshoba County Fair, which had long been a hotbed of white supremacy. Reagan spoke nearly 16 years to the day after the bodies of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were discovered, and told the crowd, “I believe in states’ rights”—a phrase that had long been the rallying cry of Southern segregationists. (I tell this story in more detail in my book Give Us the Ballot.) “For a presidential candidate to kick off his campaign there, that was heartbreaking,” said civil-rights leader John Lewis. “It was a direct slap in the face of the movement and all of the progress that we were trying to make.”
Much of the support for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump this year comes from voters who feel the system is rigged. On Monday the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond lent support to that notion. Sanders and Trump themselves agree — at least in broad strokes. Sanders says he “wouldn’t use the word rigged,” just “really dumb.” Trump is (surprise!) not so restrained: “It’s a rigged system, it’s a corrupt enterprise.” Those complaints look a trifle odd coming from those sources. Nationwide, Hillary Clinton received 3 million more votes than Sanders did in the Democratic primaries and caucuses. Trump complains the system is rigged and corrupt in one breath — and then boasts about how many states he won in the next. Merits aside, Trump and Sanders are complaining about the nominating processes of the Republican and Democratic political parties, which are essentially private organizations. Any advantages or disadvantages a candidate faces are imposed by internal party rules, not the machinery of government. That’s not the case regarding third parties, which face obstacles imposed by law.
Editorials: The polls called last year’s election wrong. Will they get the referendum right? | Peter Kellner/The Guardian
As the referendum results flow in, the pollsters will be as nervous as the Brexit and remain campaigns. Having worked hard to scrape the egg of their faces after last year’s general election, they would hate having to do the same again. As things stand, some pollsters seem certain to be more embarrassed than others. A year ago, their final headline figures were much the same; they were all wrong together. (The experience was especially painful for me, as the then-president of YouGov. On the night, other pollsters could grieve in private. I had to sit for 10 hours in the BBC studio, pretending to stay calm.) This time there have been big variations, both between individual surveys by the same companies and, on average, between polls conducted online and those conducted by telephone. Monday night was typical – the ORB/Telegraph phone poll showed remain 7% ahead, while the YouGov/Times online poll reported a 2% leave lead. If that difference persists in the final polls, somebody is bound to have awkward questions to answer.
Legislators and the governor should stop taking legal advice from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and start taking some responsibility for the chaos created by the law requiring people prove U.S. citizenship to register to vote. As it is, the burden of guaranteeing at least partial voting rights in Kansas is falling on judges – most recently the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ refusal last week to temporarily block a May order by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson. In response, Kobach’s office told county election officials late Tuesday to start registering affected Kansans. They had tried to register to vote when they applied for or renewed a driver’s license, as intended by the federal 1993 “motor-voter law,” but had their applications put on hold or thrown out for lack of citizenship proof. Counting past and future motor-voter applicants, the state thinks as many as 50,000 voter registrations could be involved.
Editorials: Ohio Governor Kasich’s far-seeing veto of SB 296 and its virtual poll tax | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday rightly applauded fellow Republican Gov. John Kasich’s wise veto of Senate Bill 296 – which had the potential to become a punitive poll tax on those Ohioans who sought to preserve their constitutional voting rights by appealing to a judge to keep polls open late. Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed a controversial elections bill that would have required voters seeking a county court order keeping the polls open to post bond. The bill would have required a potentially crushing bond to be posted by anyone asking a judge to keep polls open after hours for any reason. One example: problems with electronic poll books that plagued Hamilton County voters last November, prompting a (Republican) Common Pleas judge to order polls kept open until 9 p.m. Our editorial board condemned SB 296, sponsored by state Sen. William Seitz, a Republican from Hamilton County, and called for such a veto. And Kasich agreed, saying Friday in his veto statement that “prohibiting state court judges from exercising their discretion to waive [a bond] in only these types of cases is inequitable” and might deter citizens from seeking a court ruling to allow after-hours voting even “when there may be a valid reason for doing so.” Kasich’s right – so right, that it’s unlikely GOP lawmakers will vote to overturn his veto, even though they have the votes to do so.
Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential primary by 387 pledged delegates and 3.7 million votes. Despite this large margin, some of Bernie Sanders’s most strident supporters have attributed Clinton’s lead to foul play, alleging that the Democratic Party’s nominating rules cost Sanders the nomination and the Clinton campaign deliberately suppressed pro-Bernie votes. These claims, which have circulated widely online, are false. My colleague Joshua Holland, who supports Sanders, has extensively debunked many of these conspiracy theories, but I want to add more detail now that the primary is over. (I’ve been neutral throughout the race and do not endorse candidates.) First off, the party’s rules were not the deciding factor. Sanders has rejected the idea that the nomination was “rigged” but has repeatedly criticized things like superdelegates and closed primaries, in which Independent and unaffiliated voters can’t participate.
Here’s what he told Face the Nation in late May:
What has upset me, and what I think is—I wouldn’t use the word rigged, because we knew what the rules were—but what is really dumb is that you have closed primaries, like in New York state, where three million people who are Democrats or Republicans could not participate, where you have situation where over 400 superdelegates came on board Clinton’s campaign before anybody else was in the race, eight months before the first vote was cast.
That’s not rigged. I think it’s just a dumb process, which has certainly disadvantaged our campaign.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson ruled that 18,000 Kansans had been wrongfully disenfranchised for failing to produce proof-of-citizenship documents when they registered to vote. Robinson’s temporary injunction was upheld when the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to block it last week, meaning Kansas must register all 18,000 voters for federal elections this year. This is another defeat for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whose attempts to combat an imagined epidemic of voter fraud have resulted in no more than four misdemeanor convictions for double voting. Kobach hasn’t prosecuted a single non-citizen for voter fraud, and it’s unlikely that he will (only three such cases were recorded in Kansas between 1995 and 2013). But these paltry numbers haven’t prevented him from scaremongering about the logistics of registering voters for upcoming elections.