Editorials: Voter Suppression’s New Pretext | Rick Hasen/New York Times

It’s the latest fad among state officials looking to make voting harder: We’re not racist, we’re just partisan. Some background: In June, the Supreme Court struck down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, under which nine states and portions of others had to get federal approval before changing their election laws. One of those states, Texas, is again in court, facing a Justice Department suit seeking to get the state under federal oversight again. To do so, the Justice Department must prove intentional racial discrimination. Texas’ defense? It’s discrimination, all right — but it’s on the basis of party, not race, and therefore it’s O.K. Says Texas: “It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.” Leaving aside that whopper — laws that dilute black and Hispanic voting power have more than an “incidental” impact — the statement, part of a court filing in August, was pretty brazen. Minority voters, in Texas and elsewhere, tend to support Democrats. So Republican officials, especially but not only in the South, want to reduce early voting; impose voter-identification requirements; restrict voter registration; and, critically, draw districts either to crowd as many minority voters into as few districts as possible, or dilute concentrations of minority voters by dispersing them into as many white-controlled districts as possible.

Editorials: Courts should reject new law governing third parties in Ohio | Aaron Keith Harris/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Most Americans have a general sense that the Republican and Democrat parties have too much control over our political system and electoral process, but, for Ohio voters, Senate Bill 193 is a stark demonstration of just how ruthless those in power work to fend off challenges to the status quo. Passed earlier this month, and signed by Gov. Kasich, SB 193 removes all challenger parties from the Ohio ballot in 2014, and makes it more difficult for them to regain status as a recognized political party in Ohio. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Seitz said he introduced the bill because Ohio had no election law in place for minor parties. This is true, having been the case since 2006 when a federal court declared Ohio minor party law unconstitutional in LPO v. Blackwell.

Editorials: Virginia Attorney General Election: When voters don’t decide | Reuters

Voters decide who wins an election, right? Not necessarily. In fact, we may see partisan operatives determine the winner in the razor-thin race for Virginia’s attorney general. After the initial count, Democrat Mark Herring is ahead of Republican Mark Obenshain by a mere 164 votes out of 2.2 million. If Herring remains on top after a recount and any federal court litigation, then the next step is for the Republican candidate to initiate an “election contest” with the Virginia General Assembly. This election contest is a procedure in which the losing candidate disputes the certified results. States have varying ways to resolve these controversies — and most use a process that allows partisans to determine the ultimate winner. There are better solutions, however, than allowing a partisan legislature to decide. We can minimize ideology, actual or perceived, by creating a bipartisan entity that would resolve a post-election battle. Yet in Virginia an election contest goes to the General Assembly sitting as a joint session, with the speaker of the House of Delegates presiding. Republicans now control a majority of the Virginia General Assembly seats — and have been pushing through a socially conservative agenda.

Editorials: Digital election reforms will encourage participation in our democratic process | The Buffalo News

Another Election Day has come and gone, giving us a chance to consider an unresolved issue. That is, how to improve the American voting system. We are still operating under some obsolete rules and procedures. Those need to change if we ever hope to reverse the woeful turnouts of recent elections and ensure that all eligible citizens are able to register and vote without undue barriers. The proposed Voter Empowerment Act of 2013 has a component called Voter Registration Modernization that is intended to bring the American voting system into the 21st century. It is based on proposals from the Brennan Center for Justice, a legal advocacy group in New York. It requires the government to take responsibility for making sure that every eligible voter can become registered and remain that way. Modernizing voter registration, securely, might involve electronic, online and same-day registration. The bill has other aspects that would need more discussion, but the part dealing with technology seems clear-cut.

Editorials: Chilean elections show a new political dynamism | Simon Escoffier/Al Jazeera

Chile’s presidential elections are due to be held on November 17 in a  special political setting. Since the return to democracy in 1988, Chile’s institutional politics have always been divided into two powerful party coalitions: the Concertacion (centre and left-wing parties), and the Chilean Alliance (right-wing parties). Since 2006, and especially during the last few years (during Sebastian Pinera’s current presidency), new arrangements of citizenship brought into question this entrenched political order. By citizenship, I mean a group’s access to expressing their political rights through institutional political representation. Therefore, citizenship expresses how much people feel represented by political institutions. How Chileans relate to the state and other institutions has changed in the past years, and this election expresses those shifts. This election is historically unique because it brought to the fore new parties and novel independent candidates. Topics never before discussed by presidential candidates have been addressed. These new socio-political developments are particularly visible on the left.

Editorials: U.S. elections are still awful. We should fix that. | Washington Post

Over in Virginia today, Democrat Mark Herring today moved into the lead in the Attorney General election over Republican Mark Obenshain by exactly 100 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast. Seems that one precinct in Fairfax forgot to count one of the machines, and once that was found and included, Obenshain’s previous 17 vote lead was reversed. Anyone who has been following this — and I highly recommend Dave Wasserman on Twitter for blow-by-blow, or, rather, ballot-by-ballot, updates — knows that this could reverse again before it’s done. The twists and turns are highly entertaining but hardly something to be proud of. Election law expert Rick Hasen makes the right point: “[E]lections are always this messy. We just never had Twitter before to demonstrate that in real time” (see also Ed Kilgore, who makes the point that we don’t usually care about missing ballot boxes and uncounted machines unless the count is very close).

Editorials: Low-Stress Voting | New York Times

Voting should be easy, convenient and efficient — no lines, and no panic about choosing between voting or being late to work. With that in mind, the Brennan Center for Justice recommends that New York and other states with outdated election schedules provide for a two-week voting period instead of cramming it all into one day. At least 32 states and the District of Columbia offer some form of early voting, and apparently voters like it a lot. As one former Nevada election official told the Brennan Center analysts, “Early voters are happy voters, and Election Day voters are grumpy voters.” The center’s survey found that early voting also means shorter lines, better performance by poll workers and more time to fix broken machines or other problems.

Editorials: Virginia attorney general’s race: How Democrats could win | Rick Hasen/Slate

The race for Virginia’s attorney general is about as close as it gets in a statewide race: At the moment, about 100 votes separate the two candidates out of 2.2 million votes cast. When I started writing this article, Republican Mark Obenshain was leading Democrat Mark Herring, but that’s now reversed. County election boards are checking their math and deciding which provisional ballots to count. It is anyone’s guess who will be ahead when certification comes Tuesday night. In the meantime, Democrats are up in arms over what they see as a new rule the Republican-dominated state elections board put in place last Friday to make it harder to count provisional ballots in Democrat-leaning Fairfax County. Unless Herring builds up a larger lead, Democrats’ best hope for winning the attorney general’s race probably lies in federal court, and the results there are uncertain and may take a very long time to work out. Any time a race is this close you can expect partisans and political junkies to study every discretionary decision about which votes to count and how decisions get made, a process that has only intensified through crowdsourcing of election results on Twitter. The big fight this time around is over the rules for counting provisional ballots—ballots not counted on Election Day because there was some issue with them. For example, a military voter who had an absentee ballot sent overseas might have returned home before it arrived and tried to cast an in-person ballot at the precinct. In that case, election officials need to make sure the absentee ballot was never counted.

Editorials: GOP tinkering once again with Wisconsin’s voting laws | Journal Sentinel

Republican legislators are still trying to restrict voting, and voters across Wisconsin should tell them to stop. GOP bills would revamp the state’s misguided voter ID law — for the worse — and restrict access to early voting. These measures are more about politics than policy, more about power than the common good. The voter ID bill would allow citizens to vote if they don’t have a photo identification as long as they sign affidavits stating they are poor and couldn’t get an ID without paying for one, had a religious objection to being photographed or could not get the documentation they needed to get an ID. The ballots would be marked and could be thrown out later in a challenge. The bill is the Republican answer to complaints and lawsuits challenging the original bill requiring a photo ID.

Editorials: U.S. Elections Face A Crossroads On Rights And Technology | Tammy Patrick/Forbes

Most Americans believe that voting is their right, like freedom of speech or freedom of religion. But the right to vote doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution. Americans have historically faced legal obstacles to voting based on race, property ownership, gender, or age, while others were limited based on procedural confines such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Some of these restrictions were statutory. Others were administrative and further defined by court decisions and opinions. For example, here in Arizona, Native Americans did not get the right to vote until 1948 through a court case challenging a 1928 decision that denied that ability. Regardless of when or how certain groups have won enfranchisement, election administrators, voters, and advocates need to consider how technology can be an empowering force to ensure eligible voters have easy access to the process.

Editorials: Strict voter ID laws stop voters, not fraud | The Courier-Journal

Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said recently that if Democrats want to pass a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore the voting rights of felons, they’ll have to agree to a strict new law that would require citizens to present voter IDs when voting. Why screw up perfectly good legislation like House Bill 70, which would allow non-violent felons to vote once they’ve served their sentences, with a bad bill that is anti-democratic (notice the small “d”) and potentially racist. We’ve yet to see exactly what Mr. Thayer, R-Georgetown, has in mind, but the bills pushed across the nation in recent years to make it harder to vote — all in the name of a bogeyman called vote fraud — are universally bad. Take for instance, Texas, where former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright was at first refused a voter identification card last weekend when his expired driver’s license and Texas Christian University faculty card were deemed insufficient to prove his identity. He had to later provide a birth certificate to prove he was entitled to vote — which he has been doing in Texas for longer than most of us have been alive.

Editorials: An unfair and politically motivated jab at third-party rights in Ohio | Cleveland Plain Dealer

General Assembly Republicans on Wednesday demonstrated once again they can act quickly — when their self-interests are threatened. They passed, and Republican Gov. John Kasich immediately signed, a bill making it harder for candidates from the Libertarian, Green and other third parties to get on Ohio’s ballot. Of course, Republicans said Amended Substitute Senate Bill 193 simply filled a gap in Ohio law. But if that were so, Ohio Libertarians, who have sued to block the new law, would hardly be as vexed as they are. What’s actually at issue isn’t up-to-date law books but splits among Republicans that could threaten Kasich’s 2014 re-election. Much of the anti-Kasich huffing and puffing on the GOP’s right is just that: hot air. Still, a strong statewide showing by a third party or an independent could be significant — and some in the GOP fear that a Libertarian on the November ballot would take votes from Kasich.

Editorials: The Wrong Ways to Elect America’s Mayors | Phil Keisling/Governing

Yesterday’s voting brought an end to the 2013 election cycle. Ten of America’s 30 largest cities — including Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle — elected mayors this year. Another 13 of those 30 cities elected mayors during the 2011 cycle. And regardless of election year, the vast majority of American cities also allow candidates to skip a November contest entirely by winning a majority of votes cast in typically low-turnout first-round elections. America’s local elected officials still enjoy far higher citizen trust than their state (and, especially, their national) cousins, so it’s worth asking why so many local governments continue to risk their relatively favored status by structuring their election systems to virtually guarantee abysmal voter turnout, thus essentially disenfranchising huge numbers of citizens. New York City’s mayoral contest exemplifies the problem in two ways. First, like about 20 percent of all U.S cities, the Big Apple still elects mayors on a partisan basis. Just 22 percent of New York’s 4.2 million registered voters turned out for this September’s party primaries. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio won the Democratic nomination with a plurality of just 280,000 votes – less than 7 percent of the city’s registered voters. De Blasio’s primary win virtually guaranteed yesterday’s victory over Republican nominee Joe Lohta in a city where Democrats hold a 6-to-1 party-registration edge. Meanwhile, 700,000 non-affiliated voters, locked out of the party primaries, had no meaningful say in this election.

Editorials: The sort-of right to vote in Texas | CNN

Almost before the smoke had cleared at Pearl Harbor, he had enlisted to serve his country in the Army Air Forces. He viewed the war in the South Pacific through the bomb sight of a B-24 Liberator as a second lieutenant and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery. When he got home to Texas, he was eventually elected to Congress and served 34 years, including a term as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. But Jim Wright found out the other day he wasn’t qualified to vote in the election in his home state. Wright, who no longer drives at 90, tried to get a voter card under a new Texas law and was told his expired driver’s license and university lecturer’s ID were not adequate proof of his identity. A war hero and former congressman had to go home and dig through old files to return with his birth certificate. Hurrah for the flag of the free? Although there has been only one indicted incident of voter fraud in Texas since 2000, Gov. Rick Perry and the GOP-controlled legislature passed a stringent voter ID law.

Editorials: Don’t change voter ID law; get rid of it | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Some Republicans in the state Legislature want to tweak the state’s voter ID law to address objections that are now being debated in federal court. This law doesn’t need to be tweaked. It needs to be rescinded. The changes being proposed and that might be voted on next week would allow people to vote without a photo ID if they signed affidavits stating that they were poor and could not obtain an ID without paying a fee; they had a religious objection to being photographed; or they could not obtain the documentation needed to get an ID. Right. That’s exactly what’s not needed at the polls: different standards for different voters. Democrats who raised objections Wednesday were right. Ballots cast by people without an ID could be subject to more scrutiny than other ballots; people who voted without an ID could be embarrassed by being labeled poor; and they could face investigations for false swearing if someone accused them of signing affidavits if they weren’t qualified to vote without an ID. “It will intimidate (poor people) and then make them even less likely to go to the polls on election day,” said Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee). Of course, that could be the aim of Republican legislators.

Editorials: Britain must give prisoners the vote – and fast | Telegraph

So here we are, embroiled in a mess of Parliament’s own devising. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled that a blanket ban on prisoner voting is incompatible with European law. The UK Parliament has repeatedly flouted that edict. Now, more quickly than expected, the court has announced that it is reopening the 2281 cases involving British prisoners, despite previously saying it would put them on hold. Premature and disrespectful, say some Tory MPs. Maybe. But hell could freeze over before our legislature would willingly hand the vote to a single inmate of Her Majesty’s jails. Leave aside for now the argument that loss of freedom should automatically mean loss of franchise, and look at the practical consequences.

Editorials: Texas holds ’em voteless with new ID law | The Washington Post

Greg Abbott, the Republican attorney general of Texas, campaigned long and loud for the state’s new voter ID law. The law is a transparent effort to tilt elections in the state to Republicans by suppressing the minority vote, which is becoming more important as Texas’s demographics shift. So it was a rich irony that Mr. Abbott, who is running for governor, himself set off alarms as a suspicious voter the other day, along with a state judge, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, former speaker of the House Jim Wright and uncounted and unnamed others who tried to vote on a set of state constitutional amendments. The new law, passed by the GOP-dominated state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, masquerades as a tool to combat election fraud. In fact, as in other states that have enacted similar measures, there is no statistically significant — or even insignificant — evidence of in-person fraud at the polls in Texas.

Editorials: Voter ID laws disenfranchise women | St. Louis Post Dispatch

Republican attempts to use voter identification laws to suppress voting by people more likely to vote for Democrats has created a class of victims it probably was not intended for. Women. Even Republican women. The GOP has tried to thinly veil its efforts by claiming that voter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud, but the figures on voter fraud — which is almost nil everywhere — show that to be a phony excuse. The real reason is to make voting more difficult for blacks, Hispanics, the young, the elderly and the poor, who traditionally tend to vote for Democrats. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act in June, several states raced to put new voter ID laws into effect. Attention initially focused on the way such laws affected African-Americans and Hispanics. Now the focus of concern is on women. To quote the governor of Texas, a state that’s making harder for women to vote, “Oops.”

Editorials: The Voting Fraud Bust that Proves Texas’ Voter ID Law Is Useless | Philip Bump/The Atlantic

A 55-year-old woman in Texas plead guilty to voter fraud on Monday for forging ballots in the 2012 primary election. The case will certainly become fodder in the defense of the state’s new, restrictive voter ID law. But it shows, above all else, how completely unnecessary that law actually is. According to an alert from the FBI (which we saw via Ryan Reilly), Sonia Leticia Solis faces up to five years in prison after her sentencing next February. She admitted that she obtained “multiple mail-in ballots by forging applications on behalf of individuals she represented to be disabled.” How many votes she actually completed isn’t clear, nor is the race which she was hoping to influence. The FBI notes that the race at issue “included candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives,” and that Solis was a resident of Brownsville. That puts her in Texas’ new congressional district, the 34th, and means that she committed the fraud while voting in either the primary or run-off elections in that district for either party. Solis could have had the most effect if she’d been voting in the Republican primary in the heavily-Democratic district. That race was settled by only 223 votes. So Solis would “only” have had to come up with 223 different people that were eligible to vote that didn’t plan to, forge their applications and votes, and return each to the state.

Editorials: Voters deserve answers on voter fraud allegations | New Haven Register

If there’s any office for which a candidate should be disqualified for engaging in absentee ballot fraud, it’s city clerk, which, among other responsibilities, is in charge of handling absentee ballots. Yet in an astounding claim made just days before Tuesday’s election, City Clerk Ron Smith said late last week that he planned to file a complaint with the state Elections Enforcement Commission concerning complaints about absentee ballot fraud. At issues are affidavits from 11 residents of Ward 8 — the ward represented by Smith’s opponent Alderman Michael Smart — claiming their absentee ballots were illegally picked up. One resident told the Register’s Mary O’Leary on Thursday that Smart himself picked up her ballot. The woman, Cynthia Britt, issued a statement Friday walking back her original comments and saying that Smart had merely handled her application for an absentee ballot, and not the ballot himself.

Editorials: Ohio Republicans should deep-six flawed measure on third-party access to ballot | Cleveland Plain Dealer

misconceived Republican bill that would make it harder for third parties, such as the Libertarian Party or Green Party, to get on Ohio’s ballot has stalled at the Statehouse. That’s the good news. The bad news: A Senate-House conference committee could retool Senate Bill 193 to ease its passage later this year, when Ohioans are distracted preparing for holidays or bracing for winter. Federal courts ruled last decade that Ohio made it too hard for third parties to get on the ballot. Legislators never passed a replacement law, so court orders form today’s legal framework for third parties. Supposedly, Senate Bill 193 would fill a void. But if the status quo is a problem, someone needs to tell third parties.

Editorials: Online voting not the solution | Times Colonist

Voting on the Internet might be the wave of the future, but it’s too soon for B.C. to catch that wave. Elections B.C. looked into the question of whether the province should move to Internet voting, and released a report last week that found the technology presents too many problems and won’t do what its advocates hope. Those who want us to vote on the Internet tout its obvious convenience as an answer to declining voter turnout. We bank, shop, book vacations and manage much of our lives on the Internet, so adding voting to the suite looks like a no-brainer. The most optimistic of its supporters hoped it could be in place in time for the municipal elections in 2014. But slow down, says Elections B.C.’s panel on Internet voting. It won’t be possible to answer all the questions before next year. It gives four recommendations in its report: Don’t bring in universal Internet voting, although limited use for people with accessibility issues could work; have a provincewide policy; set up a technical committee for evaluation and support; evaluate any system on nine essential principles. The report’s nine principles are: accessibility, ballot anonymity, individual and independent verifiability, non-reliance on the trustworthiness of the voter’s device(s), one vote per voter, only count votes from eligible voters, process validation and transparency, service availability, voter authentication and authorization. As the nine principles show, Internet voting has a lot of hurdles to clear.

Editorials: The Right to Vote | Norm Ornstein/National Journal

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, is leading to a new era of voter suppression that parallels the pre-1960s era—this time affecting not just African-Americans but also Hispanic-Americans, women, and students, among others. The reasoning employed by Chief Justice John Roberts in Shelby County—that Section 5 of the act was such a spectacular success that it is no longer necessary—was the equivalent of taking down speed cameras and traffic lights and removing speed limits from a dangerous intersection because they had combined to reduce accidents and traffic deaths. In North Carolina, a post-Shelby County law not only includes one of the most restrictive and punitive vote-ID laws anywhere but also restricts early voting, eliminates same-day voting registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and bans many provisional ballots. Whatever flimsy voter-fraud excuse exists for requiring voter ID disappears when it comes to these other obstacles to voting. In Texas, the law could require voters to travel as much as 250 miles to obtain an acceptable voter ID—and it allows a concealed-weapon permit, but not a student ID, as proof of identity for voting. Moreover, the law and the regulations to implement it, we are now learning, will create huge impediments for women who have married or divorced and have voter IDs and driver’s licenses that reflect maiden or married names that do not exactly match. It raises similar problems for Mexican-Americans who use combinations of mothers’ and fathers’ names.

Editorials: Judge’s reversal affirms fallacies of voter ID law | Carl Leubsdorf/Dallas Morning News

A stunning reversal by the judge who wrote the key opinion upholding voter ID laws has given new ammunition to opponents of the laws passed or strengthened by Republican governors and legislatures in more than a dozen states, including Texas. Judge Richard Posner, a veteran member of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, made the reversal in a single sentence of his new book, Reflections on Judging, declaring such laws are “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression, rather than fraud protection. I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion, (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana’s requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo ID,” wrote Posner, a Reagan appointee on the Chicago-based appeals court, who said last year, “I’ve become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy.” Subsequently, in a video interview with the Huffington Post, he said his majority opinion in the court’s 2-1 decision was “absolutely” wrong. Seemingly blaming lawyers opposing the law, he said, in 2007, “we weren’t really given strong indications that requiring additional voter identification would actually disenfranchise people entitled to vote.”

Editorials: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper must declare election law unconstitutional | Bob Geary/Indy Week

Richard Hasen is the nation’s leading scholar on elections law as political weapons and constitutional fights. A University of California-Irvine political scientist and law professor, Hasen was in Raleigh last week speaking at N.C. State University. His topic: “Race, Party and Politics: North Carolina’s New Front in the Voting Wars.” Naturally, I thought of our Attorney General Roy Cooper, who wants to be governor. Cooper has a constitutional problem. I’ll get to it shortly. But first, as Hasen did, consider the case of a political party that—under the guise of “reform”—passes election laws designed to cripple the rival party by disenfranchising African-American voters. North Carolina, 2013? Not yet: Hasen started with North Carolina in 1898, when the all-white Democratic Party ousted the fusionist Republicans (blacks and some whites) who’d governed after the Civil War. “Reforms” then prevented most blacks from voting, and the Republican Party ceased to be a force. In 2013, the parties have flipped, but the situation is familiar. The Republican Party, virtually all-white, is in charge. This year’s Republican “reforms”—the infamous House Bill 589, which critics term a voter-suppression law and which, Hasen said, is the most restrictive set of voting requirements passed by any state since the civil rights era—will hurt the Democrats, now the party supported by almost every African-American voter. So, Hasen asked: Was 1898 about race? Or party? And is 2013 about party? Or race?

Editorials: The real landscape on voting rights in North Carolina | News Observer

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Shelby County v. Holder, 40 counties in North Carolina were covered by Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A new report from the UNC Center for Civil Rights that looks at representation of people of color on county boards of commissioners shows that the act was working to increase political engagement in North Carolina and demonstrates the continuing need for legislation that protects and enhances equitable political representation. The State of Exclusion report covers all North Carolina communities where over 75 percent of the residents are people of color and examines a variety of factors affecting the quality of life for residents of those communities, including housing, the location of unwanted land uses, access to infrastructure and educational opportunities. As to political representation, the results were stark albeit unsurprising and serve as a reminder of the need for enhancing, not withdrawing, measures designed to minimize the continuing legacy of discrimination in elections.

Editorials: Pennsylvania’s Campaign of Confusion | Philadelphia Inquirer

In its relentless effort to justify the boondoggle that is Pennsylvania’s voter-ID law, the Corbett administration is wasting $1 million in taxpayer funds on a media blitz that at best will annoy voters and at worst will disenfranchise them. This is happening even though Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley, who is considering a challenge to the voter-ID law, ruled in August that it would not apply to the Nov. 5 election. Nonetheless, the voter-ID ideologues have produced a 30-second television commercial that’s confusing enough to create the mistaken impression that official photo identification will be required to vote next week. At one point in the ad, an announcer says voters won’t need an ID but then abruptly goes on to explain how to get one. Proponents of the law, enacted in March 2012, say they want to wipe out voter fraud. But the voter impersonation the law would prevent is so uncommon that the state was unable to produce a single verified case of it. That doesn’t mean it never happens, but it does mean that this approach to preventing it is like using a wrecking ball to kill a gnat. Democrats have criticized the law as an unnecessary obstacle designed to hamper their likely supporters, including the elderly, minorities, students, and people with disabilities. About 500,000 Pennsylvanians could be denied the right to vote if the law goes into effect.

Editorials: 2-classes of voters is bizarre | Wichita Eagle

Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights states that we are all equal. But when it comes to voting and filing taxes, some Kansans are less equal than others. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is pushing a bizarre plan to create two categories of voters: those who can vote in all elections and those who can vote only in federal races. Kobach’s scheme is his response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June barring states from having more voter-registration requirements than those established by Congress. Kansas’ law requires new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship, while federal law requires only that they pledge they are citizens under penalty of perjury.

Editorials: Online voter registration offers multiple advantages | Mark Ritchie/PostBulletin

On Sept. 26, the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State launched an online voter registration tool that was developed and driven by the goal to deliver a safe, secure and less expensive method for voters to register to vote. I am proud of the positive response the system has generated, underscored by more than 1,500 applications submitted since the roll-out — demonstrating the enthusiasm and action of Minnesotans when it comes to participating in our democracy. Every election year, Minnesota leads the nation in voter turnout. This is something we can take great pride in. Our voters deserve to have the tools to make the registration and Election Day process more efficient, and I strive to support the citizens by providing secure online tools that Minnesotans expect and appreciate in today’s technology-driven age.