Editorials: The virus means we’ll be voting by mail. But that won’t be easy. | Marc Elias/The Washington Post

Barriers to voting can take many forms. Sometimes those barriers make voting harder, as in reduced polling hours or restrictive photo-ID laws. Other times, they are administrative practices, such as unnecessary voter-roll purges. Yet, some of the most difficult barriers to overcome can be those caused by events entirely unrelated to voting. Sept. 11, 2001, was Election Day in New York City. In the hours following the attacks, Gov. George Pataki (R) canceled the elections, all votes were voided, and new primaries were held two weeks later. When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast a week before the 2012 election, New Jersey allowed some voters to vote by email and fax. Hurricane Michael in 2018 caused Florida to waive various early voting restrictions to ensure citizens of eight counties could cast their ballots. None of these disasters, devastating as they were, posed the same threat that the novel coronavirus does for the 2020 election. Unlike prior events, the virus poses a health risk to voters in every state, city, town and village in the country. Not only will voters not want to wait in line and file into schoolrooms in proximity to others, but election workers — many of whom are elderly — also may not eagerly sign up to staff polling places where they will come in contact with hundreds of strangers in a single day.

Editorials: Here’s how to guarantee coronavirus won’t disrupt our elections | Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden/The Washington Post

The coronavirus has brought unprecedented disruptions to the daily lives of Americans. Something as commonplace as walking into the grocery store is a troubling reminder that the world is facing a challenge that most of us have never seen before. Our top priority right now is to make sure that people are safe in the face of this global pandemic. Federal, state and local health-care providers and first responders are working overtime to protect people, and we must give them the resources they need to do their jobs. The federal government must also fund testing, vaccine development and economic assistance for those whose lives have been turned upside down. In the midst of this crisis, we must also remember to protect the foundation of our democracy by ensuring that every eligible American can safely cast a ballot in the upcoming elections. The coronavirus should not stop our citizens from casting their ballots. The stakes are high. In less than eight months, elections will be held across the country that determine not only who the president will be but also the outcome of 11 gubernatorial elections, 35 of 100 U.S. Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Primary elections underway across the country will decide who will be on the ballot in November, and we have already seen them affected by this pandemic.

Editorials: Can Russia Use the Coronavirus to Sow Discord Among Americans? | Thomas Rid/The New York Times

Close observers of Russian disinformation tactics in electoral interference have two big questions as the 2020 election approaches: How large is the appetite for escalation among Russian intelligence agencies this time around? And where was, and is, S.V.R., Russia’s counterpart to the C.I.A.? The internal competition between Russian spy agencies is fierce, and S.V.R., a potent and storied foreign intelligence agency, is widely recognized as more competent, and stealthier, than Russia’s bumbling military spy agency, G.R.U. It was G.R.U. that was caught red-handed in 2016 meddling in the presidential election. At stake is what kind of election interference we should expect as November is coming: a lackluster rerun of leaking and trolling and fake social media activity, which would most likely be harder to do and less effective than in 2016 — or more pernicious operational innovation and escalation, perhaps even tactics that take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak. American intelligence officials reportedly reached a preliminary conclusion last week, and that answer points to escalation — as well as to S.V.R. Russian intelligence operatives, according to reports on the United States intelligence assessment, are working to support and amplify white supremacist groups in order to try to incite violence. The goal of an aggressive foreign active measures campaign is not, as a recently departed senior intelligence official implied, to strengthen President Trump. It is to weaken the United States.

Editorials: How to protect the 2020 election from coronavirus | Richard L. Hasen/Slate

On Friday, Louisiana became the first state to announce it would be postponing its April 4 presidential primary. Meanwhile, officials in the next four states to hold primaries announced the votes would go forward this coming Tuesday. With the Democratic primary contest winding down of its own momentum, how to hold an election during a pandemic may feel at the moment like one of the less urgent questions. With our national election just less than eight months away, though, it is not. Congress can and should act to secure the ability of voters to cast ballots this November sooner rather than later. Most immediately, in light of the uncertain time frame for disruption of life and political activities due to the coronavirus, Congress should pass a law requiring states to offer no-excuse absentee balloting for the November elections. Congress has the power to do so, and it should fully fund the efforts. The bill has to be drafted carefully to protect all voters. But time is short. For this to happen, it must happen quickly.

Editorials: We need to emergency-proof our elections before November. In a democracy, the vote must go on | David Daley/Salon

he coronavirus has begun threatening elections. British prime minister Boris Johnson on Friday postponed U.K. local and mayoral elections for a year due to the outbreak. Louisiana, meanwhile, became the first state to reschedule its presidential primary, pushing it from April 4 all the way to mid-June.  The same fears led Wyoming Democrats to cancel the in-person portion of their April 4 caucus, but state law allows them to make a sensible adjustment: The entire caucus will now be conducted by mail, although voters can still drop off completed ballots at one of several collection centers. Everybody should have that right. While rallies have been canceled, and candidates have halted door to door field operations, in a democracy, the vote must go on.  Voting by mail remains the safest and most common sense option: Americans should be able to exercise their civic voice without putting their health, or the health of others, at risk. It was chilling last Tuesday evening to watch voters queued in long lines across Michigan and North Dakota, while cable news scrolls below delivered news of dozens of colleges sending students home for the semester. Yes, the election remains seven months away, but there are no good estimates on how long the nation may be disrupted. Some medical experts have warned that even if conditions improve during warmer summer months, the virus could still return in the fall.

Editorials: How to Protect the Election From Coronavirus: Let everyone vote by mail | Dale Ho/The New York Times

As if we didn’t already have enough to worry about during this election season — from Russian interference to meltdown scenarios like blackouts — the coronavirus pandemic has come along to threaten the administration of the presidential vote. We are already witnessing significant disruptions to the campaign, with rallies canceled, audiences banned from the next presidential debate and suggestions to call off the parties’ nominating conventions. And even the traditional model of in-person voting may be at risk. Assisted living facilities are often used as polling sites, but states including Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and Florida have already made last-minute relocations. Since a majority of poll workers in the 2016 election were over the age of 60, it seems plausible that polling locations could face severe staffing shortages. In a worst-case scenario, many voters may be unable to vote in person because of illness or even government-imposed travel restrictions like those in Italy. Given these possibilities, we have to make it as easy as possible for Americans to vote by mail in 2020, and to prepare for a likely surge in absentee ballots.

Editorials: Coronavirus could normalize voting by mail. That will create other problems. | David Daley/The Washington Post

The worrisome split screen told the story: On one side, college campuses shut down for the semester, the National Guard deployed to create a “containment zone” in New York, and major employers instructed their workforce to telecommute. On the other, massive lines wound through precincts across Michigan and North Dakota, with Democratic voters standing nearly on top of each other, often for hours, before approaching volunteer poll workers protected only by Purell. At the same time that large gatherings were canceled, states of emergency were declared, and public institutions were dusting off catastrophe plans, the queues stretched through community centers, campuses and town halls — and 30 more primaries have yet to be conducted. The coronavirus pandemic presents an entirely new challenge for America’s electoral system: how to ensure that all citizens can exercise their right to vote without jeopardizing public health in the process. One common-sense measure would be to dramatically expand vote-by-mail options, allowing citizens to cast their ballots from a safe distance. (While every state allows voting by mail under some conditions, only five states conduct all of their statewide elections in this manner.) On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), whose state pioneered vote by mail in the 1990s, introduced legislation that would provide $500 million for states to begin making contingency plans for November’s election. If a state hard hit by coronavirus does need to transfer to a large-scale vote-by-mail operation, it would take months to buy optical scanners, put them in place and retrain poll workers. The transition requires a lot of extra preparation: The long delays counting the primary vote in California and Michigan, which have recently expanded early and absentee voting, have already shown that the system is often unprepared for tallying large numbers of pre-Election Day ballots.

Editorials: Another reason to worry: Coronavirus could upend our election | Greg Sargent/The Washington Post

As if there weren’t enough to worry about already, it’s becoming clear that coronavirus could wreak untold havoc in an area that’s only beginning to garner attention: our coming presidential election. This is already happening in a very visible way: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders both canceled their election-night rallies on Tuesday, citing fears of coronavirus’s spread. Vice President Pence, too, announced that future rallies by President Trump will be decided on a “day-to-day basis.” But there’s a less visible way the disease could shake up our politics. And Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is often focused on election security issues, is sounding the alarm about it, by proposing $500 million in federal funding to help states prepare for voting disruptions caused by coronavirus. Wyden has also filed legislation to make it possible for all Americans to vote by mail if necessary:

Wyden’s bill would give all Americans the right to vote by mail if 25 percent of states declared an emergency related to the coronavirus outbreak. The bill also would require state and local officials to prepare for possible coronavirus disruptions and to offer prepaid envelopes with self-sealing flaps to minimize the risk of contagion from voters’ licking envelopes.

All states allow vote by mail in certain circumstances, and this trend has been advancing here and there. But what Wyden is envisioning is something much broader: a federal mandate that states make this option fully available, if one quarter of them declare an emergency requiring it.

Editorials: Don’t expect fast Michigan primary results. We’re focused on accuracy and security. | Jocelyn Benson/USA Today

Millions across the nation will be looking to Michigan’s voters today in what could be a decisive moment for the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the United States. Indeed, as the state’s chief election official, I am keenly aware that the eyes of the country will be awaiting the outcome of our presidential primary this evening. And they will need to wait a little longer than usual. Because it is a new day for democracy in our state, with new rights for voters and greater security measures in place than ever before. This election will be our first statewide election since 2018, when Michiganders overwhelmingly voted to amend our state constitution to expand access to our democracy. Among the changes they made were giving all Michigan voters the right to vote by mail and to register to vote up to and on Election Day itself. These are historic changes that have made our elections more accessible for every voter.

Editorials: Securing Our Elections Requires Change in Technology, People & Attitudes | Major General Earl Matthews/Dark Reading

The security of our elections is top of mind for practically every voter in the US. With the state primaries underway, all eyes are on our electronic (and in some cases mobile) voting systems to understand if malicious attacks are happening — and if our systems are able to defend against them. Most experts agree that we are unprepared and underfunded when it comes to securing our elections — which should concern us all. A big problem is that when we look at the entire ecosystem of the national election process, we don’t treat it the same way we treat business systems. This is a mistake. Voting is a business of our state governments. And the most valuable asset for states is voter information — similar to the customer information and data assets of a for-profit business (which are increasingly safeguarded by data privacy regulations). To modernize our current model of election management, trust, and security, it’s important to examine three interrelated pillars for state governments: technology, people, and attitudes.

Editorials: California Steals Its Own Election | Wall Street Journal

Bernie Sanders supporters who complain that the Democratic primary contest is rigged may have an ironic point. Look how he was denied what might have been a bigger victory in California on Super Tuesday that would have countered Joe Biden’s Eastern U.S. rout narrative. Blame incompetent progressive government. California’s tally at our deadline Friday had Mr. Sanders with 33.6% of the statewide vote to Mr. Biden’s 25.3%. But about three million mail-in and provisional ballots still have to be counted, and the state has until April 10 to certify results. So we won’t know how many of California’s 415 delegates Mr. Sanders won for another month or so. Experts predict Mr. Sanders will win most of the uncounted ballots since young people often vote late. But the delayed results will dampen the benefit he might have gained from his California victory on Super Tuesday’s election night. Not that his friends on the left in Sacramento care. “In the state with the largest electorate in the nation, the vote count does not end on Election Night—and that’s a good thing,” declared Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Tuesday. Mr. Padilla is trying to put a positive spin on California’s voting fiasco. Lawmakers recently overhauled election procedures in the name of making it easier for young people and Hispanics to vote. Yet the result was the opposite, and Mr. Sanders is the victim.

Editorials: In West Virginia, every voter counts | Mac Warner and Jeremiah Underhill/WVNews

It is often said, “every vote counts.” In West Virginia, every voter counts, too. For too long, segments of voters have been disenfranchised from our democratic process through no fault of their own. Deployed armed services members often lack access to mail, printers, and scanners — components needed for casting paper ballots from remote locations. Similarly, voters living with a physical disability are often prevented from marking and casting a ballot secretly when they cannot make it to the polls in person. Technological advancements have torn down barriers to convenient interaction with government and private entities and have increased accessibility without sacrificing a person’s privacy. It is common for people to bank, transfer money, sign documents, shop and receive sensitive medical information via mobile devices, regardless their location around the world. Not only is technology available to help people vote, West Virginia law now requires it. On February 3, 2020, West Virginia took a huge step forward to expand the voting franchise with the signing into law of SB 94. This law requires election officials to make absentee voting fully accessible to voters with physical disabilities who are prevented from voting in-person at the polls and from marking ballots without assistance. These absentee voters with physical disabilities now have an option to mail or electronically submit their ballot back to their county clerk using approved technology.

Editorials: Dumb decisions led to long Texas voting lines. Here’s what to do next time | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

For a brief moment Tuesday night, Texas was in the national political spotlight, with huge voter turnout and a pivotal role in the changing direction of the Democratic presidential primary. But before long, we were the story of the day for the wrong reason — intolerably long lines to vote in several of the state’s big cities. The most attention went to Houston, where voters waited up to six hours at a polling center at a historically black college. But Tarrant County had its problems, too, with Democratic voters often facing long lines while machines dedicated to the Republican primary sat largely unused. Blame has flown in all the expected directions for these failures, with finger-pointing at county and state officials, the political parties, and the Supreme Court for weakening federal supervision under the Voting Rights Act. There’s elements of truth to each, and it’s a mistake to judge an entire system on the worst possible anecdotes. But polls are only going to get busier in November. Elected officials and political players at all levels need a plan of action that’s based in reality before our democracy breaks down right in front of our eyes.

Editorials: Enough finger-pointing on Russian interference. Here’s how to prepare for 2020. | Suzanne Spaulding/The Washington Post

The November election is just around the corner, and it’s clear the Russian government continues to wage an assault on our electoral process. But this time, it has had four years to practice and enhance its tactics. Finger-pointing about which candidate Vladimir Putin prefers doesn’t help; instead, we should try to better anticipate and understand how Russian information operations are intended to work against democracy. Inauthentic online activity never stopped after Russia deployed its troll farms, hackers and advertising campaigns on social media in 2016. But the Russians have grown more adept at amplifying domestic voices and exploiting weaknesses of our own making. This maximizes the reach and perceived authenticity of divisive rhetoric. Moreover, the Russians no longer need to post during the Russian workday. They intersperse human activity with bot networks that infiltrate online conversations and distort legitimate online dialogues. The Russian government may no longer pay for online ads in rubles, but the lack of legal requirements for transparency — some of which could have been addressed with the stalled Honest Ads Act — means that there are still loopholes whereby bad actors can push dark money into politics. ​Russia uses its state-sponsored media outlets such as RT and Sputnik to push one-sided narratives, conspiracy theories and half-truths to its audiences. These reinforce and are fed by social media accounts that create pipelines for disinformation. Local media, often trusted alternatives to mainstream media, are also vulnerable, as they often don’t have large fact-checking departments. And because local media is more trusted, the Russian information operations include creating fake “local” news outlets.

Editorials: The current “trust us” approach to election security is unearned | Brent Batten/USA Today – Florida

When the issue at hand is security, we understand the need for secrecy. We don’t expect banks to reveal everything they have in place to thwart robbers or the Secret Service to explain every step taken to protect its charges. Like protecting our money and protecting our leaders, protecting our elections is an important security matter, so some of the details are rightly kept on a need-to-know basis. But state and federal officials in Florida have taken advantage of the situation to keep secret aspects of 2016’s vote, in which they concede outside interference was attempted, and the steps taken to prevent a repeat.  In one example, the FBI has refused to name the counties where Russian operatives are known to have hacked into election systems. Why? The Russians certainly know which systems they penetrated and how.

Editorials: In order to prevent another voting debacle, turn to paper balloting | Lee C. Bollinger and Michael A. McRobbie/The Boston Globe

The Nevada caucuses may have skirted the chaos of Iowa and overcome last-minute fears that the use of new technology would lead to another voting fiasco. As such, we can all let out a collective sigh. But it would be a big mistake to double down on the fortunate outcome in Nevada and believe that what happened in Iowa will stay in Iowa. Iowa saw voting tallies delayed for days, in part, because of technological failure, specifically a not-ready-for-prime-time app. Helped by what seems a more decisive outcome, Nevada quickly declared a winner, but not before scrambling to bring in extra manpower and other resources to run its own complex caucus. Though Iowa-like errors and inconsistencies may yet be found in the Nevada count, there appears to be no evidence of malicious cyber activity in either state. Still, the nation’s first two caucuses heavily underscored the continued challenges and vulnerability of our election systems. They also suggested we may still not properly recognize the urgency of protecting this critical component of American democracy. More than three years after members of Congress and the American public learned about widespread Russian intrusion into our election infrastructure, our nation’s elections are still at major risk of being compromised. And, as Iowa clearly demonstrated, new technologies do not yet pose the answer.

Editorials: Coronavirus May Disrupt the 2020 Election. We Need a Plan | Jon Stokes/WIRED

Imagine it’s Election Day 2020, but with a dark twist: As millions leave their homes and stand in long lines at crowded polling stations, officials urge them to don protective masks and gloves, and to bring their own ballot-marking pencils to the polls so they don’t have to share writing utensils with strangers. And as the polls close at night, reports emerge that turnout has reached historic lows, from a mix of voter apathy and fears of catching the deadly new virus that’s been spreading silently and closing schools and houses of worship in major cities across the country. This scene isn’t a prediction of what might happen in some dystopian future. It’s what just unfolded in Iran, where elections proceeded on Friday in the face of a growing Covid-19 outbreak that the country is struggling to contain. Some reports put turnout in Tehran at 40 percent, down from over 60 percent four years ago. Many voters headed to the polls wearing face masks. The Iranian elections should serve as a warning to Americans of what could happen here in November, should the coronavirus gain a foothold on our soil. Unfortunately, an American outbreak looks more likely by the day.

Editorials: Calm down, America. If election results aren’t instant, it doesn’t mean they’re ‘rigged.’ | Joshua A. Douglas/USA Today

The contrast between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary offers two lessons for the media and the public, especially for the next two contests in Nevada and South Carolina: Put your trust in professional election administrators, and don’t expect an immediate announcement of the winner. The Iowa Democratic Party, not election professionals, ran the caucuses. The party made mistakes at several turns. It transmitted and tabulated results using a new app that turned out to be unreliable. It then compounded those errors by rushing to report results, which appeared incomplete and potentially inaccurate, over the ensuing days. By contrast, New Hampshire election officials administered the primary. They did it without any hiccups and, importantly, there seemed to be less of a rush to announce the winner. The Nevada Democratic Party is running Saturday’s caucuses, while state election officials are in charge of the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29. Nevada Democrats are trying to learn from the experience of their Iowa counterparts, but the bottom line is unavoidable: The practice of nonprofessionals administering caucuses adds another reason to question the entire caucus system, which is generally undemocratic and unrepresentative to begin with.

Editorials: As Washington State’s chief elections officer, I don’t think electronic voting is worth the risk | Kim Wyman/The Seattle Times

The integrity of our elections and our democracy is under attack. Bad actors — both foreign and domestic — seek to damage election infrastructure, manipulate results and sow discourse. Washington has made critical strides in shoring up security for upcoming elections and beyond, but safeguarding our elections is a race without a finish line. With cybersecurity experts warning of the severe vulnerabilities with online or mobile voting, including electronic ballot return methods, I am recommending the Legislature act on a bill I requested to protect Washington voters from cyber intrusion. Currently, Washington allows military and civilian overseas voters to return their ballots by email or fax. Cybersecurity experts, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are imploring states to eliminate these glaring vulnerabilities. Heeding their warnings, I partnered with a bipartisan group of legislators to eliminate email and fax ballot return options for voters serving or living overseas.

Editorials: There’s always a threat to voting online | Huntingdon Herald-Dispatch

It shouldn’t take an MIT genius to figure out that any internet-based voting system can be hacked, but apparently it did. Last week researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said the Voatz app, which has been used in West Virginia and elsewhere by absentee voters and military personnel, has vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to change a person’s vote without detection. The Voatz developer said the analysts used an older version of the app. It accused them of acting in “bad faith.” So far the app has been used by fewer than 600 voters in nine pilot elections. Voatz was used in West Virginia’s elections in 2018 by fewer than 200 voters. No problems were reported. Last month, the Legislature approved a bill that would allow voters with physical disabilities to use the Voatz app in this year’s election. The bill awaits the governor’s signature or veto.

Editorials: Paper ballots still the best election system | Medford Mail Tribune

Sometimes, the old ways are still the best ways. We would argue that especially applies to election systems, despite continuing pressure to offer voters the option of casting ballots using smartphones or other devices. Jackson County is one of two Oregon counties that experimented with a smartphone app that allowed county residents overseas — most of them in the military — to vote in the Nov. 5, 2019, special election. Of 213 Jackson County voters eligible to participate, only 27 did. One reason could have been that the November ballot had only one item on it — a proposed bond levy to upgrade the county’s emergency communications system. Maybe a full ballot would have enticed more county voters stationed overseas to use the smartphone app. Maybe not. But the turnout isn’t the primary concern here. Anything that gives voters more options to participate is a good thing, in theory. In practice, voting systems that use the internet to transmit votes are inherently more vulnerable to hackers seeking to manipulate the outcome. They are also more likely to simply fail to perform as designed.

Editorials: Why Companies Need to Help Ensure Election Integrity | Daniel Dobrygowski/Harvard Business Review

The Iowa Democratic caucus, the first election of the 2020 cycle in the U.S., seems to have played into experts’ most dire concerns about election integrity. Rather than a harbinger of disaster to come, we need to recognize this as a warning that it’s all hands on deck to ensure election security. It’s well past time to activate everyone who has a stake in trustworthy elections — not only campaigns, government officials, and voters, but also private companies as well. To borrow a meme, the best time to work together on securing the vote was 2010, the second-best time is right now. Much of the conversation around election security to date has focused on hacking, and it remains a serious concern. In 2016, Russian hackers targeted election infrastructure in more than two dozen U.S. states and compromised the email servers of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Adversaries have already begun targeting the 2020 presidential campaigns. Personal information about voters has also leaked from campaigns and political parties who store and analyze it online.

Editorials: Election hacking: is it the end of democracy as we know it? | Nick Ismail/Information Age

Since the 2016 US election, there have been murmurs about hacking elections. There are reports of hacktivists trying to compromise the ballot and rogue governments trying to control the outcome. But in a post-truth world, how much of this is legitimate? How much can we brush aside as fake news? If the recent controversial Iowa caucuses are anything to go by, we are definitely at risk. Sometimes bad actors also hack other criminals to use their network and hide their true identity. Recently, this was the case when a group of hackers from Eastern Europe compromised the network of elite Iranian hackers. In this scenario, governments and private companies in the Middle East and Britain were attacked while Tehran was set up to take the blame. So it begs the question, in the current threat landscape, what does it mean to hack an election?

Editorials: Americans Were Already Primed To Distrust Elections. Then Came Iowa. | Maggie Koerth/FiveThirtyEight

When the Iowa caucuses went to hell in a handbasket last week, they probably took some of Americans’ last morsels of trust in the political system down too. But when I asked political scientists and psychologists about the impact of the bungled caucuses on overall political cynicism, they, by and large, weren’t particularly concerned. The vast majority of voters probably won’t care all that much, they said; instead, these experts are more worried about the indirect effects. Long after the shoddy apps have been forgotten, mistrust and bitterness could still be trickling down from political elites to everyone else. We’re already primed to think something’s wrong with our voting system. Even before the caucuses, more than 40 percent of Americans felt the country wasn’t prepared to keep the November elections secure, and 45 percent thought it was likely that not all votes were going to be counted. Partisans of a losing candidate are less likely to believe their vote was counted correctly, while winners get a boost in electoral confidence that can last for months.

Editorials: Foreign interference in elections is unacceptable. Congress must make it illegal. | Jeffrey H. Smith and John B. Bellinger III/The Washington Post

The Senate, by a nearly straight party-line vote, has now acquitted President Trump of the charges in the articles of impeachment brought by the House. The president had insisted that his dealings with Ukraine over military aid and a possible investigation of Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, were “perfect.” However, even as Republican senators acquitted him, several disagreed, saying his actions were wrong but did not break any law. In response, the House impeachment managers argued that the constitutional grounds “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” for impeachment did not require violation of a specific federal criminal statute. Whether one views the president’s actions as justifying removal from office or not, we believe that the prospect of foreign interference in U.S. elections is today so grave — whether initiated by a foreign power or invited by a candidate — that Congress must make such activity illegal. Doing so would be consistent with history. For example, after the Vietnam War and President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation over Watergate, Congress enacted a series of laws to rein in executive power. These included the establishment of intelligence oversight committees in Congress, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the War Powers Resolution, and the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act (which the Government Accountability Office concluded Trump had violated).

Editorials: Proposed Georgia vote recount rule baffles | Savannah Morning News

Voting integrity is worth $120 million to Georgia taxpayers but seemingly much less to state election officials. Georgians just made a huge investment in our elections with the purchase and implementation of a new election system. The most valuable improvement, without question, is the ability to verify results by hand recount using printed ballot backups. The State Election Board is threatening to turn the entire overhaul into a nine-figure waste of money. Chaired by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, himself a supposed champion of the “physical recount,” the State Election Board is considering a rule that would leave the counting to the computer. In the event of a recount, the backup ballots would be run through the counting machine a second time rather than be physically reviewed and counted by local election officials. The move is preposterous on several levels. Let’s focus on the most obvious. Coming off a 2018 midterm election where voting integrity was the dominant theme, Raffensperger and company are stoking the simmering doubts of the electorate. To call this proposed rule tone deaf is to insult all those who can’t carry a tune.

Editorials: The Iowa disaster makes it clear that we should stick to doing things the old fashioned way | The Washington Post

It’s 2020. Should Americans really still be voting with pen and paper? The answer, amplified by this week’s meltdown in Iowa, is a resounding “yes.” The inaugural Democratic primary caucuses were thrown into disarray after the state’s vote-recording app imploded. Volunteers struggled to download the largely untested product, or to upload their counts onto it once they’d managed to get in. On top of that, what state party officials called a “coding issue” caused the program to spit out incorrect numbers even when results were successfully input. The one bit of good news amid all the bad: There’s a paper trail. Because precinct captains kept handwritten tallies of the outcome, voters can expect a reliable analog answer in the end — no matter how dysfunctional the digital system that delayed it. Election security experts have been insisting on backup paper ballots for votes everywhere, though it’s likely eight states will still be paperless come November’s presidential race. They’ve also been insisting that officials use the backups to conduct what are called risk-limiting audits: hand counts of a sample of all votes to make sure the computers have gotten it right.

Editorials: Iowa’s message for the other states: Be ready for everything to go wrong | Lawrence Norden/The Washington Post

Just when you thought the Iowa caucus debacle couldn’t get worse, it went full Murphy’s law. On Thursday, Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called for a full recanvass of the results. Immediately, the Iowa Democratic Party responded that it would do so if a campaign requested it. As we all know now, the human and technical mistakes in Iowa were legion. Yet one overlooked fact in coverage of the meltdown is that the caucus was run by a state political party — not professional election officials. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t important lessons for all the other primaries and caucuses in the weeks ahead. Here are the four most important things election officials can do to keep the 2020 election cycle free, fair and secure. Don’t roll out untested technology in a big election. As an election professional from Ohio recently told me, “Macy’s wouldn’t roll out new cash registers on Black Friday.” There is a ton of new technology, from voting machines to electronic pollbooks, being employed in 2020. And for the most part, it is long overdue. For years, we have neglected our election infrastructure in the United States, with states using voting machines and registration databases with unnecessary security and reliability flaws. The key, however, is to test out this technology in low-stakes, low-turnout elections throughout the year — a best practice that the Iowa Democratic Party ignored.

Editorials: Messing with elections messes with democracy | Ross Ramsey/The Texas Tribune

Elections depend on trust — on the idea that the declared winners and losers were the real winners and losers. So how’s that going right now? “In a democracy, people have to have faith that elections are being run fairly, so that losers will accept the results and fight another day,” says Rick Hasen, an elections lawyer and professor at the University of California-Irvine. “That’s been taken for granted in this country and, effectively, no longer can be, with so much stress on our system and so much agitation that undermines confidence.” He’s written a book — “Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust and the Threat to American Democracy” — that went public Tuesday. That’s the day the Iowa caucuses started coming to pieces. “Confidence is the system,” Hasen says. “We don’t have a single election system. We have all of these pieces that fit together so that there’s legitimacy to the process. At some point, that can break down and you could have a substantial number of people who say, ‘This is broken, and I don’t believe this was a fair election.’ That’s what I’m really worried about.”

Editorials: How to Prevent the Next Election Meltdown | Richard L. Hasen/Wall Street Journal

Will your vote be fairly and accurately counted in the 2020 elections? It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds after this week’s fiasco in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, and it reminds us of a troubling fact: Nearly two decades after the Florida debacle over the 2000 presidential vote, too many places in the U.S. are still vulnerable to an election meltdown. Such anxieties add to well-founded concerns about the possibility of cyberattacks on our voting systems, by Russia or other malign actors. What’s worse, in today’s hyperpolarized, social-media-driven environment, such voting problems provide sensational grist for conspiracy theories that may further undermine Americans’ confidence in the fairness and accuracy of the 2020 elections. Over the past decade, a familiar frame has developed in the contentious debate over voting rules: Republicans express concern about voter fraud and enact laws supposedly intended to combat it; Democrats see these laws as an attempt to suppress Democratic votes, press for measures to expand voting access and rights, and worry about cyberattacks intended to help the GOP at the polls. It is an important debate, in which I have taken part, but it misses a deeper, more urgent reality: Most American voters in 2020 are much more likely to be disenfranchised by an incompetent election administrator than by fraud, suppression or Russian hacking.