Yet again, the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission has deadlocked on a fundamental disclosure question involving whether politically active organizations that try to sway elections must identify their donors. Three Democratic-leaning commissioners insist the groups should disclose their donors. Three Republican appointees say these groups aren’t obligated to register with the commission or name their donors. Under rules by which the FEC operates, disclosure loses. The case dates to 2010, the year that Republicans took control of the U.S. House. One of the groups, American Action Network, spent $17 million in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and other states. That was nearly two-thirds of the money it spent that year, the Democratic appointees said. American Action Network is based in Washington, D.C., and chaired by former Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican. The other group, Americans for Job Security, based in Arlington, Va., spent $9.5 million on election-related activity in 2010. That was three-fourths of its money that year.
A recent ruling by a federal judge in North Carolina offers a perfect case study of just what was lost when the Supreme Court badly weakened the Voting Rights Act last year in Shelby County v. Holder. Judge Thomas Schroeder on Friday rejected an effort by civil rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department to put North Carolina’s voting law on hold in advance of a full trial next year. The decision means the law—called the strictest voting measure in the country—will be in effect this November, when North Carolina will host a tight Senate race that could determine control of the chamber. Politics aside, the ruling’s logic appears to validate the concerns of voting rights advocates that, post-Shelby, the Voting Rights Act is no longer strong enough to protect minorities’ access to the polls—especially in the face of a concerted Republican effort to make voting harder. Meanwhile, a bipartisan congressional effort to pass legislation re-invigorating the landmark civil rights law is stalled in the Republican-controlled House. “This really is a result of the Supreme Court’s weakening of the Voting Rights Act a year ago,” Daniel Donovan, a lawyer for the groups challenging the law, told reporters Monday.
Editorials: North Carolina Becomes the Latest Casualty of the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act Decision | Ari Berman/The Nation
On Tuesday, August 6, the country celebrated the forty-ninth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the most impactful civil rights law ever passed by Congress. Three days later, a federal judge in North Carolina denied a preliminary injunction to block key provisions of the state’s new voting law, widely described as the most onerous in the country. North Carolina’s new voting restrictions will now be in effect for the 2014 midterms and beyond, pending a full trial in July 2015, a month before the fiftieth anniversary of the VRA. The federal government and plaintiffs including the North Carolina NAACP and the League of Women Voters argued during a hearing last month that three important parts of the law—a reduction in early voting from seventeen to ten days, the elimination of same-day registration during the early voting period, and a prohibition on counting provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct—disproportionally burdened African-American voters in violation of Section 2 of the VRA and should be enjoined before the 2014 election. As evidence, plaintiffs showed that in recent elections African-Americans were twice as likely to vote early, use same-day registration and vote out-of-precinct. In 2012, for example, 300,000 African-Americans voted during the week of early voting eliminated by the state, 30,000 used same-day registration and 2,500 cast out-of-precinct ballots. Overall, 70 percent of blacks voted early and African-Americans made up 42 percent of new same-day registrants.
After Republicans scored major victories in state legislative elections across the country in 2010, they embarked on an ambitious legislative agenda on a whole host of issues. One of the most prominent agenda items in state after state has been the adopting of new laws requiring voters to present some form of identification at the polls before being allowed to vote. Opponents argue that these laws tend to discriminate against older and minority voters, some of whom may not have the types of identification required by the law, may no longer have access to the documents such as birth records that would allow them to obtain such identification, or may not have the resources to get that identification because of difficulties that some states have placed on obtaining identification. Proponents of these laws, on the other hand, maintain that they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, presumably in the form of people showing up at the polls claiming to be someone that they are not. This is really the only form of voter fraud that requiring identification at the polls could possibly combat.
So the Legislature is back at it, once more attempting to thread the devilishly minuscule eye of a needle only lawyers could love. Which is appropriate, because the thing was the creation of lawyers in the first place, and lawyers incapable of making the absurd and impractical seem reasonable soon come to be known as teachers or journalists or multilevel marketers. I mean, as anyone who has sat through a courtroom case can tell you, if all you hear is one side — it tends not to matter which side — even the lawyerly equivalent of Boo Weekly can make his version of the argument sound impenetrable. This is not to suggest, back in 2010 when voters were challenged to decide how future political boundaries would be drawn, the face-value presentation on behalf of compact, contiguous and party-neutral districts lacked merit. Indeed, there was then and remains today much to commend about such an arrangement, the very least of which is the likelihood that districts thus composed would simultaneously yield fewer safe seats while creating more competition. The last I looked, competition was revered as among the most precious of American virtues.
This complicates things. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has called for a special election in the 7th Congressional District to fill the vacancy being left by Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Henrico. Mr. Cantor was defeated in the Republican primary in June and lost the right to defend his seat. Now he says he will resign this month. Granted, Mr. Cantor’s decision to leave Congress in August was billed as an effort to spare Virginia two additional months of representation by a lame-duck leader. But his surprise move also pushes candidates and, to some degree, voters into an accelerated scramble. Whoever wins the special election in November will have to take his seat in Congress almost immediately — two months earlier than expected. Had not Mr. Cantor announced his retirement, there would have been no special election and the winner of the general election would have been seated in January. The accelerated timetable may pose a hardship even for major party candidates Dave Brat, R-Henrico, and Jack Trammell, D-Louisa. And it certainly will pose a hardship for Libertarian candidate James A. Carr Jr. of Louisa County.
On August 10, the citizens of Turkey will vote for their country’s president for the first time in history. While previously it was parliament that voted for the head of state, the system now in place is a two-round popular election. The election has changed Turkey even before it has taken place. There are three contenders in the race. The candidate of the AKP, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been prime minister for 11 years. His leadership style has antagonised those it didn’t captivate. Besides reigning over government accomplishments in areas like health care and transportation infrastructure, he has tackled entrenched challenges such as military tutelage and the Kurdish problem. But his actions and rhetoric have polarised society and his intolerance of dissent has created a lot of bad blood. Under Erdogan’s leadership checks on executive power one by one ebbed away. Erdogan frames his presidency as the necessary step to bring the AKP’s New Turkey vision to fruition. Every time Turkish citizens have gone to the ballot box since November 2002, the AKP has been victorious. Thus Erdogan enters the race riding a wave of invincibility, propelled by a narrative of a predestined victory, not only as the will of the nation, but also of God.
The Obama administration’s interventions last week in two major voting rights cases gave a big boost to efforts to challenge restrictive voting laws in two crucial swing states. But they did something else, too: They offered more evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder is determined to match his tough talk about the need to protect voting with action. Indeed, when Holder steps down as the nation’s top law enforcement officer—which could happen as soon as this year—his commitment to ensuring access to the ballot for all eligible Americans could stand out as his most important achievement. In his rhetoric, Holder has left little doubt that he sees the issue of voting rights as a defining moral question for the country, raising the topic again and again in speeches and interviews over the last few years . “This comes down, in some ways, to a fundamental question of who we are—who we are as a people,” he told The New Yorker for a profile published in February. “The history of this nation has always been to try to expand the franchise. Whether it’s freed slaves, women, young people, we’ve always found ways to make it easier to vote…To turn our backs on that history is inconsistent with who we say we are as a nation.” And for a man with a reputation as a cautious and soft-spoken bureaucrat, he’s often used surprisingly pointed language to call out Republicans for making voting harder.
Afghanistan’s ongoing presidential election, if successful, will mark the first transfer of power via an election in that country’s history. Election does not necessarily imply democracy. Afghanistan’s previous two presidential elections, both won by incumbent Hamid Karzai, saw ubiquitous election fraud and there are legitimate questions about how representative one leader or political party can be in a country so fraught with sectarian and tribal divisions. Nowhere are these divisions more apparent than in the central challenge of selling the whole process of democracy to the Afghan people. Afghanistan’s divisions are manifested partly in the readiness of many Afghans to pursue other avenues when the State looks less than functional, which is its usual condition. Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah who withdrew from the 2009 election to protest Karzai’s election fraud has threatened to create a “parallel state,” by force if necessary, if the currently disputed outcome cannot be resolved. This willingness on Abdullah’s part is suggestive of many things, most important of which may be a lack of confidence that the central government can effectively represent more than one of Afghanistan’s many groups at a time. Abdullah nominally represents Tajik interests—the northern part of the country—despite his own mixed ancestry. Ashraf Ghani, the other candidate, has more widespread support among Pashtuns. The challenge all parties face is in trying to make this election more than a contest to see which ethnic group has more voters.
There is little doubt that Prime Minister Recep Erdogan will win the upcoming presidential elections. His lead in the most recent public opinions polls is at least in double digits. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was fielded as a joint candidate for the two largest opposition parties, centre-left People’s Republican Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The third candidate is Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the Kurdish nationalist People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Despite the fact that this is the first election in which the president will be elected by popular vote, following a constitutional amendment in 2007,enthusiasm for it is running fairly low. This election offers the Turkish voter the choice of two different models of presidency, where one would imply a de facto change in the system of governance. The election of either Ihsanoglu or Demirtas would maintain the fairly symbolic presidency in a parliamentary system. By contrast, Erdogan’s election will turn it into a semi-presidential one. In recent remarks, Erdogan clearly expressed his preference for an active presidency: “A president elected by the people cannot be like the previous ones. As the head of the executive, the president uses all his constitutional powers. If I am elected president, I will also use all of them. I won’t be a president of protocol.” Erdogan certainly has some room to do that within the current constitutional provisions that determine the powers of the presidency. The concern, however, is that Erdogan is adamant about politicising the role of the president; as he himself said: he “won’t be an impartial president”. What is at stake?
A judge in Tallahassee disqualified a write-in candidate in the Florida House District 64 race Thursday because the write-in didn’t live in the district. As a result, what was a closed primary election between two Republicans scheduled for Aug. 26 now will be open to all voters in November — as it should be. District 64, which runs from Safety Harbor in Pinellas County to Carrollwood in Hillsborough, is set up to lean Republican, so much so that Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate to challenge incumbent Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa. Grant did manage to draw a Republican challenger, however, in Miriam Steinberg, a Tampa engineer. Still, at that time all voters in the district were eligible to vote in the primary. Florida mandates an open primary if members of only one party are on the ballot and there are no other candidates running in the general election because the winner of the primary automatically wins the general election.
Half a century ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 brought an end to the era of Jim Crow by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. One year later, the landmark legislation was strengthened and expanded when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law on Aug. 6, 1965. The Voting Rights Act prohibited discrimination in voting and, together with the Civil Rights Act, enshrines the principles upon which our nation was founded. These laws serve as a testament to all who sacrificed to work toward ending segregation and discrimination. For nearly half a century, the Voting Rights Act has stood as a central pillar in the protection of fair voting practices. Our nation now faces the greatest threat to voting rights since Reconstruction.
On Election Day, newspapers all over the country write editorials urging readers to get out and vote. We talk about civic duty, the need for citizens to participate in the governing process, and how the right to vote is the bedrock of American democracy. But let’s face it — if you’re reading this editorial, you’re probably already planning to vote. Let’s talk instead about how we get people out to vote — and why what we’re doing isn’t working. Based on previous turnouts, about 1.4 million people statewide could cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary election, about 20% of the state’s more than 7 million registered voters. That’s unsurprising for a primary in a non-presidential year, with a noncompetitive gubernatorial primary (both Republican and Democratic nominees for the office have been chosen for more than a year).
There have long been plenty of methods for corporations, special interests and wealthy individuals to pour money into political campaigns without having to publicly disclose their activity, but recent action by Wisconsin regulators suggests even fewer state political groups will be subject to regulation, at least in the near future. Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, the state agency that monitors elections, recently told a number of electioneering groups — conservative and liberal — that they are welcome to disclose their spending activity and donors, but are not required to. That is a change from previous years in Wisconsin, when, at the very least, groups that expressly advocated for the election or defeat of a candidate have been required to periodically submit financial reports that listed their donors and spending activity. Groups that engaged solely in “issue advocacy,” meaning they did not produce advertising using words such as “vote for” or “vote against,” were not required to disclose. Now, however, the GAB is allowing even groups that engage in a certain amount of express advocacy to forgo disclosure. “We aren’t going to force you to report just because you’re making independent expenditures,” explained Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel for the GAB.
Editorials: Utah is correct to both be at the front of online voting, and cautiously study security | Deseret News
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has convened a committee to study how the Beehive State might proceed with online voting. He has said Internet voting is inevitable, but his office agrees that security is the top concern. That is the correct attitude to assume as this effort proceeds. Security — the idea that a voter’s secret ballot is transmitted and tabulated correctly — must be nailed down and ensured beyond any reasonable doubt before anyone votes directly through the Internet. If voters lose confidence in the integrity of the election system, the notion of government by the people would be imperiled. We have yet to hear of any online effort that has successfully overcome these concerns. Norway, a pioneer in online voting, ended a three-year experiment with it last month, citing a lack of security. A small number of people there succeeded in voting twice by casting both online and paper ballots.
For almost fifty years, the US government has had an especially effective tool for ensuring fair elections: sending teams of federal observers to polling stations across the country. Though relatively little known, the program has been crucial in dismantling the discriminatory practices that disenfranchised voters of color. In the program’s early days, federal monitors risked their lives to collect evidence courts needed to outlaw the electoral mechanisms of Jim Crow. And as recently as the 2012 presidential election, the Justice Department dispatched more than 780 federal employees to 51 jurisdictions across 23 states. As a result of a 2013 Supreme Court decision, however, the program is now being quietly curtailed. In 2013, the Supreme Court hobbled the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which for decades had provided safeguards to prevent unfair voting practices, including special oversight for jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination. In Shelby County v. Holder, the Court found that Congress created a flawed formula to select those special jurisdictions. Last week, the Justice Department revealed that, in light of the Supreme Court decision, it has concluded that the Attorney General no longer retains the statutory authority to send observers to those jurisdictions.
Editorials: Hypocrisy on Wisconsin Supreme Court: Why voter ID decision is wrong | Joshua A. Douglas/Journal-Sentinel
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday issued two decisions that had the effect of upholding the state’s strict voter ID requirement. Crucial to the court’s decisions was its finding that, once it modified a different rule, the voter ID law did not impose too substantial of a burden on qualified voters who do not otherwise have the necessary identification. The split decisions entail both breathtaking judicial activism and ignorance regarding the difference between the federal and state constitutions. First, the conservative-leaning majority found that the voter ID law imposed a severe burden on voters because it would cost money for voters to gather the underlying documentation they might need — such as a birth certificate — to obtain the “free” voter ID. But the majority then forges ahead to adopt a “saving construction” of a state administrative rule to conclude that the law does not, really, require voters to pay money to obtain the documentation. It rewrites the administrative rule so that the voter ID law does not become an unconstitutional poll tax. To justify this maneuver, the court cites a U.S. Supreme Court decision that states “where a saving construction is ‘fairly possible,’ the court will adopt it.” But that U.S. Supreme Court case said no such thing; it instead noted that if a saving construction of the very statute at issue is possible, then the court should avoid the constitutional question and decide the case under that statutory ground.
This week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will become Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. Taking the mantle in the middle of an election year, McCarthy does not want for front-burner issues to navigate on behalf of his caucus. There is one issue on which McCarthy undoubtedly must lead, and that is restoring voting rights protections in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, the “coverage formula” which determines which states and jurisdictions with records of voting discrimination must preclear voting changes before they can be implemented. While acknowledging that voting discrimination still exists, the Court found that the formula did not address “current conditions” in voting. Since then, it has been an open season on access to voting in jurisdictions throughout the country. Restrictions on early voting, closed polling places, and the elimination of seats held by African-American and Latino incumbents in local districts have all been stepped up since the Shelby County decision. The mood is best understood by the exhilarated statement of the Florida Secretary of State days after the Supreme Court’s decision — “We’re free and clear now.”
Editorials: Keeping elections on track the best choice in Florida redistricting mess | The Tampa Tribune
Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is skeptical he can redraw the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts in time for the primary and general elections this year. He has good reason for skepticism. Military ballots have already been mailed overseas, and local supervisors of elections are mailing ballots to voters in their counties and preparing early-voting sites in advance of the Aug. 26 primary election. To put the brakes on that process and disrupt or delay the primary and general elections would be foolish. Although the legality of the district boundaries is clearly in question, it’s simply too late to pull back now. He should allow the elections to proceed with the existing maps. If he does, we hope the parties that successfully challenged the maps will consider the chaos an immediate appeal will cause and accept that it’s too late. Holding the elections as scheduled will also allow time to redraw the lines, and to determine whether Lewis, the Legislature, an appointed third party, or the state’s highest court have that authority. After they are redrawn, perhaps special elections can be held in the affected districts.
The United States has a rich history of third parties. In 1856, Millard Fillmore made a strong run for president on the Whig-American ticket. Fifty-six years later, Theodore Roosevelt captured 27 percent of the popular vote as the Progressive Party’s candidate. Ross Perot made his mark in 1992 and again, although to a lesser extent, in 1996 with the Reform Party. But the number of votes won don’t tell the whole story. In local and national races, third-party candidates often contribute to an election by pushing the Republican and Democratic candidates on issues they might otherwise avoid. If they do it effectively, as Perot did in 1992, the system benefits. Last week, it became a little harder for third parties to play that role in New Hampshire. On Monday, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire over a change to state law that makes it more difficult for third parties to collect the signatures needed for inclusion on election ballots.
Editorials: Everyone says turnout is key. So why does it keep going down? | Dan Balz/The Washington Post
Tens of millions of dollars will be spent this year in an effort to boost turnout in the November elections. But the longer-term trends suggest that any marginal increase in what is expected to be a low-turnout election won’t have much effect on one of the chronic problems of America’s politics. The Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE) recently issued a dreary summation about participation in the primary elections so far this year. Based on the 25 states that have already held their primaries, the report chronicled a pattern of voter indifference and, in some cases, record low turnout. In 15 of the 25 states with statewide primaries, turnout was the lowest ever, and only three of the 25 saw an increase over the last mid-term election in 2010. One of those that produced increased turnout was Mississippi, but that happened during the extraordinarily contested run-off election between Sen. Thad Cochran (R) and his tea party challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
Would the dysfunction of U.S. politics be dispelled if we got rid of partisan primaries? That’s the contention of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Schumer argued that the primary system in most states, in which voters choose nominees for their respective parties who then run head to head in November, gives too much weight to the party faithful, who are inclined to select candidates who veer either far right or far left. The cure Schumer proposes for this ill is the “jungle primary,” in which all primary candidates, regardless of party, appear on the same ballot, with the top two finishers, again regardless of party, advancing to the general election. The senator cites the example of California — once the most gridlocked of states, now a place where legislation actually gets enacted — as proof that such primaries work. But Schumer misunderstands what got California working again. In so doing, he also misses the fatal flaws of the jungle primary.
Enough is enough. Chris McDaniel has used every excuse in the book to delay filing a challenge to incumbent Thad Cochran’s election as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. His campaign has said filing a challenge before having all evidence will prevent him from including additional evidence. They have said they need more time to gather more data. They have said they need birthdates to verify voter identities. They have said circuit clerks have prevented them from seeing public information. However, at the end of the day, McDaniel’s campaign has been given access to everything to which they are entitled under the law. And despite their assertions, introducing a challenge to the Mississippi Republican Party will in no way prevent them from presenting new information of voter fraud to a court if indeed they discover it after their challenge is filed.
Editorials: Montana’s absentee voting, signature-gathering laws discourage citizen initiatives | Charles S. Johnson/Ravalli Republic
Direct democracy, a proud tradition in Montana for more than a century, fell flat on its face this year. For the first time since 1992, no initiatives sponsored by citizens, groups or corporations qualified for the November ballot in Montana. Twelve of the 18 proposed ballot issues were cleared for signature-gathering, but none got enough signatures to appear on the November ballot, Secretary of State Linda McCulloch said. One factor is the growing trend of Montanans voting by absentee or mail-in ballots instead of showing up to the polls to cast their votes. In June, 68 percent of Montanans who voted in the primary did so by absentee ballot. As a result, initiative supporters no longer can count on that day to hit up large numbers of voters for signatures.
Before she was allowed to register and vote for the first time in Franklin County, N.C., Rosanell Eaton had to read the entire preamble to the U.S. Constitution out loud in front of three men in the county courthouse. Eaton is black. The three men testing her were white. The time was the early 1940s, when trying to vote was difficult and even dangerous for African-Americans. Contrived “literacy tests” were one of the milder obstacles that were deployed to suppress the black vote in the South. Now 93, Eaton is back in court. This summer she is lead plaintiff in one of two lawsuits brought by the North Carolina NAACP and others to prevent her state from raising a batch of new hurdles to voting in this November’s midterm elections. That lawsuit is one of two filed this month against a package of voter inconveniences signed into law by North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. The new law includes cutbacks in early voting, new limits on voter registration, less poll workers’ assistance to voters and new voting requirements such as photo identification.
Editorials: Chris McDaniel should either show evidence or concede in Mississippi’s GOP primary | The Washington Post
It took just a few words for state Sen. Chris McDaniel to stoke tea party fervor after his runoff loss in the Mississippi Republican primary to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. “We’re not done fighting,” he said defiantly to the June 24 election-night crowd. A messy primary was about to get worse. Mr. McDaniel, who lost by about 7,600 votes, claimed that there were voting “irregularities,” insisting that those who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary illegally cast ballots three weeks later in the Republican runoff. He also argued that many voters broke an obscure and unenforceable Mississippi law that prohibits citizens from participating in a primary unless they intend to back the party’s nominee in the general election. Because Mississippi does not register voters by party, Mr. Cochran had focused on getting more left-leaning, African American voters to the polls for the runoff.
The wait is over. After taking two weeks to count 135m ballots from 480,000-odd polling stations across the vast archipelago, Indonesia’s Election Commission (the KPU) has at last confirmed that Joko Widodo has been elected president. The commission said that Mr Joko, the governor of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and his vice-presidential running mate, Jusuf Kalla, won 71m votes at the election on July 9th. That represents 53.2% of the valid votes. The losers, Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa, won 62.6m votes, or 46.9%. Mr Joko was victorious in 23 of the country’s 33 provinces. His winning margin of 8.4m votes, or 6.3 percentage points, was even wider than had been predicted by most of the respected pollsters on the night of the election.
Editorials: Early-voting cuts in Ohio rightfully draw Justice Department ire: editorial | Cleveland Plain Dealer
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has signaled that the Justice Department will back pending Ohio litigation aimed at providing more early voting days for Ohioans and restoring Ohio’s voting “golden week.” Holder and his department are more than justified in doing so. At stake is one of the most precious of constitutional rights, the right to vote. That is a fundamental right Americans have died for, as, for example, three patriots – two white, one black – did 50 years ago in Neshoba County, Mississippi. In February, Ohio General Assembly Republicans passed, and Gov. John Kasich signed, Senate Bill 238. The bill, passed along party lines (Republicans for, Democrats against), abolished Ohio’s so-called golden week. This was the week right before Ohio’s voter registration deadline when an Ohioan simultaneously could register to vote, apply for and then cast an in-person, early-voting ballot at his or her county board of elections.
Instead of representing a triumph of democracy, Indonesia’s presidential election threatens to spark a crisis. On Tuesday afternoon officials were poised to announce that Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo won the July 9 election with 53% of the vote. But losing candidate and self-styled strongman Prabowo Subianto denounced the result, leveled charges of widespread fraud and withdrew from the race. “We are rejecting this presidential election, which is legally flawed,” Mr. Subianto said from his campaign headquarters, insisting that the vote was “riddled with problems” and “undemocratic.” As confusion spread, his brother and campaign advisor Hashim Djojohadikusumo clarified that “Prabowo Subianto is no longer a presidential candidate.” Though he has complained of irregularities since the vote, Mr. Subianto has marshaled little evidence that the result is illegitimate. Indonesia has some unusual voting practices across its 900 inhabited islands and 190 million eligible voters, but observers and officials generally judged the balloting peaceful, free and fair.
Polarization and partisanship are a plague on American politics. Political scientists have found that the two parties have each grown more ideologically homogeneous since the 1970s. The Senate hasn’t been so polarized since Reconstruction; the House has not been so divided since around 1900. As measured by laws passed, the current Congress is on track to be among the least productive in our republic’s history. How did this happen? One of the main causes has not gotten enough attention: the party primary system. … We need a national movement to adopt the “top-two” primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.