Editorials: Bill that limits party-switching in Kansas could limit voters’ right to support their chosen candidates | Lawrence Journal World

A bill that would create new limits on when Kansas voters could change their party affiliations is another example of state legislators trying to correct a problem that probably doesn’t exist or at least not to an extent that justifies legislative action. In this case, that “fix” also could limit Kansas voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their preferred candidates. The bill that has passed the Senate Ethics and Election Committee last week would bar Kansas voters from changing their party affiliation from June 1 (the filing deadline for candidates) to Sept. 1 (about a month after the August primary elections).

Editorials: Why Ohio’s GOP is strangling voters’ access to the polls | Toledo Blade

Voter fraud is minuscule. No massive voting irregularities have been uncovered in Ohio. Ballot stuffing, perpetrated by individuals who scheme to skew elections in the state, is a myth. So the new Republican-backed voting restrictions adopted recently in Ohio are not really about preventing deceit at the polls. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted launched a comprehensive investigation of voting in the state after the last presidential election in 2012. It produced almost no evidence of voting irregularities worthy of prosecution. Out of more than 5.5 million Ohio votes cast in November, 2012, just 135 were referred to law enforcement agencies for review. Mr. Husted, a Republican, concluded that while voter fraud exists, “it’s not an epidemic.” So if large-scale voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in Ohio, we can rule out aggressive policing as the motivation behind GOP efforts to chip away at established voting practices in the state.

Editorials: Why Did the Senate Block Debo Adegbile? | Brentin Mock/Demos

Much of the rancor around why they opposed Debo Adegbile for heading the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has been about Mumia Abu-Jamal. But it seems from their line of questioning that there’s also an agenda to undermine the Civil Rights Divisions’ duties to enforce voting rights and protect Americans against discrimination. This probably explains why Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama sound really pissed with the Senate right now. “At a time when significant voting rights cases and other consequential matters are pending, it is more critical than ever to have a confirmed leader for the Civil Rights Division,” said Holder in a statement decrying the Senate vote. “He deserved to have his nomination considered wholly on the merits.”  President Obama called it a “travesty” noting that Adegbile’s “unwavering dedication to protecting every American’s civil and Constitutional rights under the law—including voting rights —could not be more important right now.”

Editorials: North Korea elections: An empty show? | Al Jazeera

On March 8, virtually all North Korean adults will be expected (or rather required) to come to their local polling station in order to partake in the elections of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the North Korean parliament.The ritual has been repeated every four or five years and hence is quite predictable. First, the voters form remarkably orderly cues, and upon entering the station they will make a deep bow to the portraits of the Leaders from the Kim family which has been running the country for almost 70 years. Having completed this important ritual, they will be issued ballot papers, whereupon they will proceed to a voting box. The ballot will have only one candidate, even though the voter has the theoretical option of voting against the candidate. If the North Korean media is to be believed, not a single person nationwide has exercised this theoretical right. The picture described above is quite typical of Stalinist electoral systems. First created in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, this pattern was then copied across the socialist bloc. The standout feature of this system was the non-competitive nature of the elections. There was only one candidate in every electoral district, thus the success of a given candidate was preordained. The party bureaucracy decided the names of the candidates well before the elections were held.

Editorials: Canada Fair Elections Act attacks participation and debate | Toronto Star

For many months the Conservative government has blatantly taken away by fiat the right to strike of union members within federal jurisdiction. They are now threatening to shut down environmental charities that are talking about climate change. And they are ramming through Parliament changes to the elections act that will almost certainly mean that many thousands of Canadians will not be able to vote. In the language of fundamental rights, taken together these actions restrict freedom of association, limit freedom of speech and curtail a citizen’s right to vote. In short, there is a steady chipping away at the underpinnings of democracy. Inspired by the tried and tested voter suppression tactics used by the Republicans to disenfranchise marginalized groups in the U.S., the new election law would make it harder for certain groups to vote. The law would end the ability to “vouch” for the bona fides of a neighbour, a tool that allowed 120,000 voters — disproportionately aboriginal, youth and seniors — to cast ballots in the last election.

Editorials: Modernize Massachusetts Elections | Pam Wilmot/The Boston Globe

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration recently released a report on ways to make American elections run more smoothly and to reduce long lines at the polls. The bipartisan commission, co-chaired by the head election attorneys from President Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s campaigns, found than 5 million people had to wait longer than an hour to vote in 2012. Some voters waited for more than six hours! Even here in Massachusetts, thousands of urban voters waited in long lines of up to three hours. Others understandably could not wait that long and went home. Still others were turned away because of issues around inactive voting lists, registration glitches, and their inability to legally obtain an absentee ballot. Thankfully all of the Commission on Election Administration’s top legislative recommendations were recently passed by the Massachusetts Senate in a groundbreaking election modernization bill. These recommendations were online voter registration, early voting, permanent voter registration, and post-election audits of election equipment.

Editorials: What the Texas primary will – and won’t – tell us about voter ID | Michael Li/TXRedistricting

A number of news outlets have described the 2014 Texas primary as the first big test for the state’s voter ID law – and that’s true, to an extent. But it’s important to understand the limitations and caveats of the “test.” For starters, although voter turnout almost certainly will exceed the 8.55% of the state’s registered voters who turned out in November 2013 to vote on constitutional amendments, it is not clear that turnout will much exceed – if at all – the combined 16.6% of voters who voted in the 2010 Democratic and Republican primaries. That’s a far cry from the 38% of voters who voted in the 2010 general election (when Texas had the lowest voter turnout in the country) and even further from the 58.6% of voters who cast a ballot in the last presidential election. In other words, while the primary may be a stress test, over relying on it is a bit like using how a well a city does with a quarter inch of ice to predict how the city would do with a major snowstorm. Disaster with a quarter inch of ice – or in a low turnout primary – would be bad sign indeed, but the opposite can’t be said to be necessarily true.

Editorials: Improving access with online voter registration in Connecticut | Easton Courier

Last week, Connecticut took an important step in making the right to vote accessible to more people by embarking on a statewide online voter registration system. This new system will make the first hurdle to casting a ballot — registration — that much easier to surmount. While registering for the first time is seen as a rite of passage by many, including 18-year-olds and new citizens, it can be a challenge for those who work or are away at school when town offices are open or who lack the means to get to town hall. This is especially true for those who live in Connecticut’s cities and larger towns. While there is a mail-in process, that has its pitfalls as well. Using the Internet also simplifies the process for people who simply want to make a change to their registration. Perhaps they want to align with a political party so they may participate in a primary. Or, maybe they just need to inform of a change of address.

Editorials: Fair Elections Act would suppress the student vote | The Varsity

The federal Conservative government recently announced the Fair Elections Act, a controversial proposal to amend the Canada Elections Act. Ironically, the act is being criticized for taking steps to suppress voter turnout by implementing new rules for verifying who is an eligible voter at the polls. This new piece of legislation poses significant issues for minority voters, low-income families, and, unfortunately, students. At present, eligible voters can vouch for another person’s eligibility, such as a roommate or neighbour, at polling stations, allowing them to vote. The Conservatives’ proposal places unnecessarily stringent limits on reasonable and useful forms of identification, which will inevitably prevent young people from voting. One form of identification targeted for elemination is vouching. While the act will leave 39 identification options, these are often onerous or impossible for students or marginalized voters. Other identification options — including providing phone bills, bank statements, or ID — work for voters who have a well-established life in the riding. Students — who often live in a given riding for only one federal election, and marginalized citizens — who might not have a mailing address or ID — rely on vouching to facilitate their democratic right.

Editorials: Good news on voting rights, despite Ohio | MSNBC

Is the tide turning on voting rights? Leading up to the 2012 election, state legislatures passed dozens of laws to make it more difficult to cast a ballot. Last year, the Supreme Court gutted a key voting rights protection. Despite ongoing shenanigans in some parts of the country, things look much brighter two months into 2014, with increasing public bipartisan support for making our elections more free, fair, and accessible. Look at what has happened this year already. Last month, the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration (co-chaired by the heads of both President Obama and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns) agreed on common-sense recommendations to improve elections, including ideas to expand early voting and modernize registration. Bipartisan leaders in Congress introduced a bill to strengthen the Voting Rights Act (revisions made necessary after the Supreme Court eviscerated one of its most powerful tools against discriminatory election practices). And, this month, Attorney General Eric Holder and  Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — unlikely bedfellows in almost any policy debate — each spoke out in favor of restoring voting rights to people with past criminal convictions.

Editorials: Conservatives’ 17th Amendment repeal effort: Why their plan will backfire. | David Schleicher/Slate

ver the past year, an increasingly central plank of conservative and Tea Party rhetoric is that constitutional change is needed and that the 17th Amendment in particular, which gives state residents the power to elect senators directly, should be repealed. (Previously, senators were selected by the state legislatures). Hard-right figures across the country, from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to Georgia Senate candidate Rep. Paul Broun to a steady drumbeat of state officials, have now called for repealing the amendment and giving the power to select senators back to the state legislatures. Radio host Mark Levin’s book The Liberty Amendments, calling for repeal, among other constitutional changes, was the best-selling book on constitutional law last year. Clearly this is an idea with legs. This boomlet of energy for repealing the 17th Amendment is not the first in recent memory. Back in 2010, repeal was similarly endorsed by a bevy of conservative bigwigs from Justice Antonin Scalia to Gov. Rick Perry to now-Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Back then, support for repeal was mocked in Democratic campaign ads as kooky, but perhaps it’s time to concede that it is no longer a fringe idea. Given the ascendance of the right flank of the GOP, it’s worth taking the argument for repeal seriously.

Editorials: How ‘the next Citizens United’ could bring more corruption — but less gridlock | Rick Hasen/The Washington Post

An opinion could come as early as this coming week in the Supreme Court case being called “the next Citizens United,” and groups concerned about the influence of money in American politics are bracing themselves for the result. Public Citizen has planned more than 100 events across the country in anticipation of a McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling that further dismantles our campaign finance laws and strikes down a key federal campaign contribution limit. I, too, am troubled by the prospect of an awful decision that would clear the way for more corruption. But I find some solace in the thought that such a ruling could have a surprising positive side effect: reducing gridlock in Washington. At issue in the McCutcheon case is the constitutionality of caps on an individual’s total donations to federal candidates, parties and certain political committees in a two-year election cycle. Alabama Republican Shaun McCutcheon wanted to give $1,776 to each of 28 candidates in the 2012 cycle, but that would have exceeded the $48,600 aggregate limit on direct contributions to candidates. He and the Republican National Committee are challenging that limit, along with the $123,200 cap on total donations.

Editorials: What’s gone wrong with democracy? | The Economist

The protesters who have overturned the politics of Ukraine have many aspirations for their country. Their placards called for closer relations with the European Union (EU), an end to Russian intervention in Ukraine’s politics and the establishment of a clean government to replace the kleptocracy of President Viktor Yanukovych. But their fundamental demand is one that has motivated people over many decades to take a stand against corrupt, abusive and autocratic governments. They want a rules-based democracy. It is easy to understand why. Democracies are on average richer than non-democracies, are less likely to go to war and have a better record of fighting corruption. More fundamentally, democracy lets people speak their minds and shape their own and their children’s futures. That so many people in so many different parts of the world are prepared to risk so much for this idea is testimony to its enduring appeal. Yet these days the exhilaration generated by events like those in Kiev is mixed with anxiety, for a troubling pattern has repeated itself in capital after capital. The people mass in the main square. Regime-sanctioned thugs try to fight back but lose their nerve in the face of popular intransigence and global news coverage. The world applauds the collapse of the regime and offers to help build a democracy. But turfing out an autocrat turns out to be much easier than setting up a viable democratic government.

Editorials: The Fair Elections Act doesn’t address the real problems with voting | Adam Scheletzky/The Globe and Mail

The Conservative government’s proposed “Fair Elections Act” aims to “protect the fairness of federal elections.” Yet, rather than effectively address issues like the 2011 robocall fraud, the Act attempts to tackle supposed individual voter fraud by prohibiting the use of “Voter Information Cards” (VICs) and ending the process of “vouching.” Presumably, since approximately 120,000 Canadians utilized vouching and 36-73 per cent of youth, aboriginal peoples and seniors used VICs in a 900,000-person pilot program during the last federal election, there is compelling evidence to justify making it harder for so many Canadians to vote. Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre points to the Neufeld Report for justification that the process of vouching needs to end. Yet this independent report does not present one iota of evidence that there was one case of actual fraud by an individual voter. Nor does it recommend that vouching be eliminated.

Editorials: The War Against Early Voting Heats Up In Ohio | American Prospect

The ink is barely dry on the report from President Obama’s election administration commission and states are already disregarding its blue-ribbon recommendations, namely around early voting. The endorsement of expanding the voting period before Election Day was one of the strongest components of the bipartisan commission’s report. But yesterday Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted released a new voting schedule that deletes both pre-Election Day Sundays from the early voting formula. Under the new rules, people can vote in the four weeks before Election Day, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on the final two Saturdays before Election Day. The Sunday erasures come in conflict with the “souls to the polls” black church-led campaigns to take their congregants to vote after worship services. When Husted dropped Sunday from the early voting period in 2012 it landed him in court, where a federal judge ultimately forced him to reinstate Sunday voting. In 2008, over 77 percent of people who voted early in Ohio were African-American.

Editorials: High-tech Internet voting may beckon in Oregon, but pulling the plug wins out | Susan Nielsen/OregonLive.com

Bruce Starr killed his own bill this week. The Washington County state senator visited his peers in the House and asked them, respectfully, to give it the heave-ho. You have to admire the guy. He had thought it would be a good time to study the possibility of ditching Oregon’s vote-by-mail system for a fancier, higher-tech version. He not only realized he was wrong, but he admitted it, too, before pushing the state further in that direction. In the land of Cover Oregon, that’s big. Not quite “Profiles in Courage” big, but it’s a nice change of pace in a state that seems serially unaware of the limits of its technological prowess. It’s also a welcome check on the propensity to assume the smartest choice is always the highest-tech one. Starr came up with the idea while traveling last year in Estonia, which has embraced Internet-based voting. He thought that maybe Oregon, known for pushing the envelope on voter access, might give online voting a closer look. “When I was there, it was like, ‘Wow, that’s interesting.’ They clearly have a system that works, at least for their citizens,” Starr said. ” …. That is the beginning of what brought us to this bill.” So he packed the idea in his suitcase and brought it home. However, the timing for introducing a feasibility study for a new state tech initiative turned out to be less than ideal.

Editorials: Strength and weakness of the Vot­ing Rights Amend­ment Act of 2014 | Anna Massoglia/TheHill

In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which includes a provision mandating that specified states “preclear” any changes in election regulations with the federal government. The court upheld other provisions of the Vot­ing Rights Act intact, including Section 2, a permanent provision that prohibits racially discriminatory voting laws nationwide, but determined that Section 4(b) is unconstitutional. Section 4(b) constitutes the “coverage formula” used to apply Section 5. As enacted, Section 4 requires certain states and jurisdictions that were determined by the formula to have a history of racially unbalanced voting to preclear any changes in election regulation with the federal government, even changes as minor as moving a polling station from one building to another. The Court in Shelby found that the provision was unconstitutional because it was based on outmoded data from voter turnout in 1964, 1968, or 1972 elections. Further, many states and vicinities subject to preclearance no longer correspond to the same incidence of racial discrimination in voting. In fact, the Census Bureau has reported that black voters voted at substantially higher rates than whites in seven of the states covered by Section 5, a rate higher than many other states that remain unaffected by Section 5.

Editorials: Restore voting rights to ex-felons | Al Jazeera

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been taking stands for justice lately, for which he is to be applauded. On Feb. 11, in a speech at Georgetown University, he issued a plea for states to lift bans on voting by ex-felons, also called returning citizens. On the heels of his earlier suggestion that prosecutors and legislators re-examine mandatory sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders and disparities in crack cocaine sentences, this latest call suggests a new pattern of priorities coming out of the office of the attorney general. The New York Times predicted Holder’s suggestions would “elevate issues of criminal justice and race in the president’s second term and create a lasting civil rights legacy.” Holder is reportedly the first attorney general to take up this cause. It has been a long time coming. Laws that deny ex-offenders the vote have a long and dark history. Although felons were prevented from voting in most states from the very beginning of the republic, after the Civil War, these laws were greatly expanded in the South — and virtually all felons in those states were black. The South’s loss of the Civil War in 1865 presented former slave owners with dual dilemmas. Their captive labor supply had been liberated, and those formerly involuntary workers were going to be allowed to vote. In the words of one former slave, “bottom rail on the top.” Soon after the withdrawal of federal troops in 1877, however, white entrepreneurs of the South solved both problems with two linked concepts: convict leasing and felon disenfranchisement. First, massive numbers of African-Americans were arrested for little or no reason and sent to work in mines, mills and fields, creating an almost limitless supply of effectively free labor. Under newly enhanced (and in some cases newly created) laws, these ex-felons were then forever after denied the right to vote. This process also planted in the American psyche a viciously tenacious stereotype of African-American criminality. Douglas Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize–winning book “Slavery by Another Name” describes these circumstances in excruciating detail: The depraved system has made enduring marks on today’s criminal justice landscape, in the form of felon disenfranchisement laws and racially disparate arrest, conviction and sentencing practices. Michelle Alexander, in her book “The New Jim Crow,” compares these laws and today’s mass incarceration of inmates of color to historical injustices.

Editorials: Four things the District of Columbia can try to send election turnout through the roof | Norman Ornstein/Washington Post

Voter turnout in the District is generally abysmal. With rare exceptions — a presidential election with an African American at the head of the ticket, for example — turnout in the city falls at the lower end of a national spectrum that is pretty poor to begin with. In some ways this is no surprise; for those of us living in the District, voting can be a drag. First, we have no voting representation in Congress. Second, the general elections are almost always pro forma; the District is so overwhelmingly Democratic that the only contest that matters is the Democratic primary. Those issues aren’t likely to change anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean turnout has to remain at such low levels. The District is ripe for a dramatic experiment that could show how changing the rules and processes could significantly increase voter participation. Unlike North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas, where lawmakers have tried multiple ways to suppress votes to maintain partisan political advantage, the climate here isn’t hostile to voters. Rather, there is every reason for political figures, election officials and citizens to work together to create a healthier democracy. This creates a great opportunity to use the District as a laboratory for cutting-edge ideas.

Editorials: Senate made mockery of Kentucky voting rights amendment | Lexington Herald Leader

Imagine if two-thirds of people living in Lexington just disappeared. Their houses sat empty, their jobs unfilled and taxes unpaid. When it comes to our country’s most basic democratic right — voting — that is what’s happening today. Nearly 200,000 Kentuckians living and working in our communities cannot vote because of antiquated laws excluding them from our democracy. When someone is convicted of a felony, they can never vote again unless the governor individually allows them to do so. It does not matter how long ago the crime was, how old the person was when he did it or how long he has been living productively among friends and neighbors. This year, the legislature, and every citizen, had a chance to change that, but it looks as if the Kentucky Senate is squandering that opportunity. The legislature is considering House Bill 70, which would allow voters to decide on a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights for people with criminal convictions who have fully completed their sentences.

Editorials: GOP Senate makes farce of Kentucky voting rights amendment | Lexington Herald-Leader

In the annals of cynical politics, Kentucky’s Republican Senate has reached new heights, or depths. It has thumbed its collective nose at 180,000 Kentuckians who have served their time for felony convictions but still aren’t allowed to vote, and the thousands of people who have worked for years to restore their voting rights — and told them they should be thankful. The House should refuse this farcical rewrite. The Senate has a long history of rejecting felon voting rights but the twist this year is the upper chamber manipulated the process so it could appear to be expanding rights without actually doing so.

Editorials: Voter ID cases could let John Roberts destroy Voting Rights Act | MSNBC

After the Supreme Court wiped out the most important plank of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) last summer, a broad range of experts told msnbc that the law’s key remaining pillar may now be at risk from the court’s conservatives. And lately there’s concern that efforts to stop strict voter ID laws could, perversely, give Chief Justice John Roberts and co. the chance they’ve been looking for.  Striking down or significantly narrowing that key pillar, known as Section 2, would essentially render the most successful civil-rights law in U.S. history a dead letter. In a nutshell, Section 2 prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Though it’s a less effective tool than Section 5—which, until it was neutered by the Supreme Court, required certain regions to get federal approval before their election laws could go into effect—it’s still an important protection. The Justice Department is using it to challenge Texas’ voter ID law, as well as North Carolina’s sweeping voting law.

Editorials: The rich already have more votes than you | Eric Liu/CNN.com

Last week, Tom Perkins, who’s becoming America’s most controversial venture capitalist, suggested the very rich should get more votes than everyone else. In his ideal system, he said, “it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?” Well, un-American, for starters. But more on that in a minute. Perkins quickly indicated he wasn’t being entirely serious, just as he’d backtracked after saying on another occasion that criticism of the 1% was akin to Nazi persecution of Jews. Apparently his pronouncements aren’t to be taken literally; they’re pleas for understanding from a brave member of a victimized minority group. Right. Yet Perkins has given us the gift of a great thought experiment. What if we took him literally and granted more votes to those who earn more? One dollar, one vote. It would seem antithetical to every notion of equal citizenship and fair play, and at odds with our constitutional ideal of one man, one vote. But in fact, the result would not look terribly different from today’s political reality.

Editorials: Repeal Iowa’s bar on voting rights of felons | The Des Moines Register

Last week Eric Holder Jr., the attorney general of the United States, called for the repeal of laws barring convicted felons from exercising their right to vote. He is right to make the call, and a bill in the hopper this session of the Iowa Legislature would do just that. Unfortunately, the Iowa bill is doomed to fail. Eliminating Iowa’s grievous denial of a fundamental constitutional right won’t happen that easily. The denial of felons’ right to vote is prescribed by the Iowa Constitution, not by state law. Only the governor has the authority to restore felons’ voting rights using the power granted by the constitution to restore rights of citizenship.

Editorials: Expand voting opportunities for Florida college students | Miami Herald

Not too long ago, any effort to change election law that seemed to restrict voting rights would have been tantamount to political suicide regardless of which party was attempting the change. But now there appears to be no shame or fear. For many years there was an emphasis on increasing voter turnout. As Florida grew so did the number of polling places and the expansion of voting methods. Absentee ballots were open to everyone, not only to those who could demonstrate they were unable to vote on Election Day. My party, the Republican Party, was quick to embrace absentee voting and expertly adapted to campaigning to absentee voters. Early-voting days were added as a convenience to those who found it difficult to make it to the polls on Election Day. This appealed to those working long or irregular shifts and became popular among the working class, younger voters and minorities.

Editorials: Online balloting: good intent, bad law | Justin Moore/ Richmond Times-Dispatch

This week the General Assembly has been considering an important election-reform bill that could greatly affect the security of the ballots of our troops and the integrity of elections in Virginia. HB 759 would allow military voters to send marked ballots back over the Internet via email. The bill is intended to address the very real challenges facing military voters, but allowing ballots to be returned over the Internet creates extraordinary risks both to the votes of our men and women in uniform and to the electoral infrastructure of our state. The Internet provides great opportunities, but also tremendous risks. The skill and stealth of hackers continues to outpace our ability to secure Internet-based services. Target, Adobe, Sony, Google, Apple, Facebook, Citigroup and others have all been victims, as have the Department of Defense and the State of South Carolina. Government security experts are raising increasingly urgent warnings regarding computer attacks. The rise of organized, well-funded, state-sponsored hackers has made the cyber world less secure now than ever before. Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense’s U.S. Cyber Command, stated that between 2009 between 2011 there was a 1,700 percent increase in computer attacks against American infrastructure initiated by criminal gangs, hackers and other nations. At the direction of Congress, scientists at the federal National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have been conducting research into the use of online systems for military voters. NIST has stated that with the security tools currently available, secure online ballot return is not feasible and that more research is needed.

Editorials: 6 Million Americans Without a Voice | New York Times

The right to vote is the foundation of any democracy, yet nearly six million Americans are denied that right, in many cases for life, because they have been convicted of a crime. Some states disenfranchise more than 7 percent of their adult citizens. In an unflinching speech before a civil rights conference Tuesday morning, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. described this shameful aspect of our justice system for what it is: a “profoundly outdated” practice that is unjust and counterproductive. State laws that disenfranchise people who have served their time “defy the principles — of accountability and rehabilitation — that guide our criminal justice policies,” Mr. Holder said in urging state lawmakers to repeal them. “By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes.”

Editorials: Political ignorance and early voting | Washington Post

Some conservative commentators – including co-blogger Eugene Kontorovich and John McGinnis, and former Justice Department voting rights specialist J. Christian Adams, have recently criticized early voting, on the grounds that it exacerbates the problem of political ignorance. I agree that widespread political ignorance is a serious problem. But I doubt that early voting makes it any worse than it would be otherwise. As leading voting rights scholar Rick Hasen points out, social science research shows that early voters are, on average, better-informed than those who vote on election day. They also tend to have stronger partisan loyalties, and are therefore unlikely to change their minds based on last-minute election ads or news developments.

Editorials: Do Misleading Campaign Websites Violate Federal Law? | American Constitution Society

Controversy is swirling around a number of websites that have been set up by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in recent months. The websites have URLs and headlines that imply support for named Democratic candidates for Congress. The websites also have prominent “donate” buttons. But in less prominent text, the websites indicate opposition to the named candidates and any contributions made via the websites actually go to the NRCC. The Los Angeles Times has counted 18 such websites so far, with URLs such as AnnKirkpatrick.com, SinemaForCongress.com and RonBarber2014.com. Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber are all Democratic Members of Congress running for reelection this year. The headlines at the top of these pages read “KIRKPATRICK FOR CONGRESS,” “Kyrsten Sinema for CONGRESS” and “Ron Barber CONGRESS,” respectively. Time has described these websites as “clearly designed to trick the viewer—at least at first—into thinking they’re on a legitimate campaign website.” But these websites aren’t merely part of the underhanded games that typically accompany political campaigns. They also violate federal law.

Editorials: The new conservative assault on early voting: More Republicans, fewer voters. | RickHasen/Slate

It is easy to dismiss the latest conservative rants against early voting as just one more way for Republicans to try to gain advantage over Democrats at the polls. But something much more troubling may also be at work: Some opponents of early voting are promoting the view that a smaller (and skewed) electorate is better for democracy. In the past few weeks, a flurry of conservatives have attacked early voting, from Eugene Kontorovich and John McGinnis in Politico to George Will in the Washington Post to J. Christian Adams in the Washington Times.  The timing is no coincidence: The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which President Obama created to look at issues with long lines and other election problems, recently issued its much-anticipated report. The report is full of many sound suggestions for improving our elections, and one of the key recommendations is to expand early voting, either in person, through absentee ballots, or both. There’s good reason to follow the commission’s recommendation: Early voting takes pressure off administering the vote on Election Day. It helps avert long lines and aids election administrators in working out kinks. Voters like early voting because it lets them pick a convenient time to vote, when there are not work or child-care conflicts.