Editorials: More on Judge Posner’s (Now Disavowed?) Mea Culpa on Voter ID Laws | Ed Whelan/National Review

For those interested in another round of Judge Richard Posner’s selfimmolation, here’s the latest bizarre twist concerning (to quote his words from pp. 84-85 of his new book Reflections on Judging) his “plead[ing] 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”: In a postfor the New Republic, Posner now contends that he is not “publicly recanting” his vote and that he has not “switched sides.” I agree with election-law expert (and voter ID-law critic) Rick Hasen, who finds Posner’s latest account “incredible.” For starters (as Hasen points out), in a recent HuffPost Live interview, Mike Sacks, after quoting the passage in Posner’s book, specifically asked Posner whether he thinks that he “got this one [the ruling in the Indiana voter ID case] wrong.” Posner’s response (at 9:08 of the interview) begins: “Yes. Absolutely.” He adds that he thinks the dissenting judge “was right.” (See Hasen’s post for the remainder of the response, none of which contradicts these excerpts.)

Editorials: I Did Not Recant My Opinion on Voter ID | Richard Posner/New Republic

A month or so ago, a new book of mine, called Reflections on Judging, was published by the Harvard University Press. I have been a federal court of appeals judge since 1981, and over this extended period I have become acutely conscious of certain deficiencies of the federal judiciary, and those deficiencies are the principal focus of the book. To my considerable surprise, one sentence—I should have thought it entirely innocuous—in the book has received unusual attention in the media and blogs, much of it critical. The sentence runs from the bottom of page 84 to the top of page 85, in a chapter entitled “The Challenge of Complexity.” The sentence reads in its entirety: “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—a type of law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” (The footnote provides the name and citation of the opinion: Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 472 F.3d 949 (7th Cir. 2007), affirmed, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).)

Editorials: Florida voter purge do-over remains a bad idea | Paula Dockery/Tallahassee Democrat

Here we go again. As we gear up for another election, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has announced another attempt at purging the state’s voter rolls of non-U.S. citizens. Hark back to last year’s voter purge debacle, in which the state’s list of targeted non-U.S. citizens began at 182,000, shrank to 2,600, and was further reduced to 198. The county supervisors of election stopped the effort shortly before voting started for the presidential election. A mere 85 of Florida’s 12 million registered voters were removed from the rolls — hardly a matter requiring drastic action or worth risking disenfranchisement. Furthermore, it is unclear whether any of those individuals had actually voted. The 2012 voter purge was marred by faulty lists, heavy-handedness from Tallahassee, a disregard for the county election supervisors and a plethora of lawsuits and costly legal actions. Many supervisors were embarrassed to be part of the state’s sloppy and ill-timed efforts.

Editorials: Vote offline for the ballot | The Globe and Mail

Should voting be as easy as point and click? No, says a report from British Columbia published this week, which makes a compelling case against Internet voting – at least any time soon. Voter turnout has been declining for decades. There’s a widespread worry that citizens in Western democracies are starting to exercise their electoral franchise later in life, and many never acquire the habit at all. Such disengagement is unsettling. Some blame an outdated voting system. Where’s my “Vote Now” app? But a panel headed by B.C.’s Chief Electoral Officer, Keith Archer, found no correlation between voter participation and online voting, in jurisdictions where that option is available. More and easier ways to vote do not necessarily equal more votes. And, surprisingly, older people are more likely than the young to use the Internet to vote.

Editorials: Internet voting is not the magic bullet | Les Leyne/Times Colonist

Elections B.C. will kick the idea around for a bit longer and is open to hearing more, but it looks as if Internet voting isn’t going anywhere. Security isn’t foolproof, as it needs to be. Cost savings are debatable, and it would likely actually wind up costing more. And most critically, there is no conclusive proof it would help increase the turnout rate in elections. That was one of the background motivations for considering the idea in the first place. The participation rate has been declining for a generation now. It ticked upward a couple of points in last May’s election, compared to the 2009 vote. But it is still scarcely more than half, which is abysmal. The idea that Internet voting could fix that is founded on a faulty premise. Experts have been trying to figure out the slumping turnout rate for years. Various authorities have delved deeply into it by all means possible, including polling non-voters on the reasons they opted out.

Editorials: Why Judge Posner Changed His Mind | Rick Hasen/The Daily Beast

Judge Richard A. Posner, the judge who delivered the landmark decision that upheld voter ID laws in Indiana in 2007, has made legal history again. In his new book, Reflections on Judging, Judge Posner includes a single sentence admitting he made a mistake: “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—a law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than fraud prevention.” Further extrapolating on his turnabout in an interview with HuffPost Live’s Mike Sacks, Judge Posner, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, blamed the lawyers for not giving “strong indications that requiring additional voter identification would actually disfranchise people entitled to vote.” Posner further defended himself by saying that even the more liberal Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an opinion for the Supreme Court affirming Posner’s decision. Then Justice Stevens in an interview with the Wall Street Journal defended his decision in Crawford v. Marion County Elections Board and blamed the lawyers too.

Editorials: Voting laws like North Carolina’s hurt, don’t help voters | Charlotte Observer

North Carolina officials on Monday publicly defended controversial voting changes the Republican-controlled legislature pushed this past summer, a legally mandated response to lawsuits brought by the ACLU, NAACP and the Southern Coalition for Justice. The U.S. Department of Justice is also filing suit. The state reiterated its stand that the changes were made to fight voter fraud and ensure voting integrity – and are not voter suppression, as litigants suggest. That’s hogwash, of course. And it was refreshing to finally hear recently two prominent jurists whose landmark rulings enabled voter ID laws nationwide to essentially admit that. Both Appeals Court Judge Richard A. Posner, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, expressed misgivings about the impact of rulings they made affirming voter ID laws. They both had seminal roles in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County Election Board case that upheld Indiana voter identification laws that, like North Carolina’s today, were viewed as the most stringent in the nation in 2007.

Editorials: Texas Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Women, Students and Minorities | Ari Berman/The Nation

Texas’s new voter ID law got off to a rocky start this week as early voting began for state constitutional amendments. The law was previously blocked as discriminatory by the federal courts under the Voting Rights Act in 2012, until the Supreme Court invalidated Section 4 of the VRA in June. The Department of Justice has filed suit against the law under Section 2 of the VRA. Now we are seeing the disastrous ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision.Based on Texas’ own data, 600,000 to 800,000 registered voters don’t have the government-issued ID needed to cast a ballot, with Hispanics 46 to 120 percent more likely than whites to lack an ID. But a much larger segment of the electorate, particularly women, will be impacted by the requirement that a voter’s ID be “substantially similar” to their name on the voter registration rolls. According to a 2006 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, a third of all women have citizenship documents that do not match their current legal name. … The disproportionate impact of the law on women voters could be a major factor in upcoming Texas elections, especially now that Wendy Davis is running for governor in 2014.

Editorials: The Debate Over Judge Posner’s Unforced Error | New York Times

Two weeks ago, Richard Posner, one of the most respected and iconoclastic federal judges in the country, startled the legal world by publicly stating that he’d made a mistake in voting to uphold a 2005 voter-ID law out of Indiana, and that if he had properly understood the abuse of such laws, the case “would have been decided differently.” For the past ten days, the debate over Judge Posner’s comments has raged on, even drawing a response from a former Supreme Court justice. The law in question requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls as a means of preventing voter fraud. Opponents sued, saying it would disenfranchise those Indianans without photo IDs — most of whom were poor, elderly, or minorities. State officials said the law was necessary, even though no one had ever been prosecuted for voter fraud in Indiana.

Editorials: Subtracting and Adding to Virginia’s Voter Rolls | Lynchburg News Advance

At about the same time last week that Gov. Bob McDonnell was restoring the rights of felons to vote, the State Board of Elections was removing voters from local voting lists across the state. The odor of politics is much stronger in the actions taken by the elections board. With respect to the general elections coming up in two weeks, the timing couldn’t be worse. McDonnell said last week that the civil rights of more than 6,800 Virginians have been restored during his tenure, including 1,577 since July 15 when he began automatically restoring rights for non-violent felons on an individual basis. Administration officials were said to be scrambling in recent weeks to restore rights to as many non-violent felons as possible before last week’s deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 5 elections.

Editorials: Politicians’ Extortion Racket | Peter Schweizer/New York Times

We have long assumed that the infestation of special interest money in Washington is at the root of so much that ails our politics. But what if we’ve had it wrong? What if instead of being bribed by wealthy interests, politicians are engaged in a form of legal extortion designed to extract campaign contributions? Consider this: of the thousands of bills introduced in Congress each year, only roughly 5 percent become law. Why do legislators bother proposing so many bills? What if many of those bills are written not to be passed but to pressure people into forking over cash? This is exactly what is happening. Politicians have developed a dizzying array of legislative tactics to bring in money. Take the maneuver known inside the Beltway as the “tollbooth.” Here the speaker of the House or a powerful committee chairperson will create a procedural obstruction or postponement on the eve of an important vote. Campaign contributions are then implicitly solicited. If the tribute offered by those in favor of the bill’s passage is too small (or if the money from opponents is sufficiently high), the bill is delayed and does not proceed down the legislative highway.

Editorials: For online voter registration, it’s about time | Mark Ritchie/Star Tribune

Last month, the office of the Minnesota secretary of state launched online voter registration to deliver a less expensive and more secure method for our citizens to register to vote (“Online voting system needs bipartisan OK,” editorial, Oct. 15; “Beware of online voter registration,” editorial counterpoint, Oct. 18). Minnesotans have responded enthusiastically to this new tool, with nearly 1,500 applications submitted. Along with praise of the system, we’ve also been asked: “What took you so long?” It is fitting that the state that regularly records the highest voter turnout in the nation has access to all the available tools that support voter participation. Online voter registration joins a series of other innovative web-based services from our office that help voters find their polling place, look up registration or absentee ballot status, view a sample ballot, and request an absentee ballot if in the military or working overseas.

Editorials: Virginia’s voter purge must stop | Tram Nguyen/Richmond Times-Dispatch

With just two weeks remaining before voters go to polls to elect the state’s next governor, Virginia’s State Board of Elections is engaged in an ill-advised effort to purge voters from the registration rolls. While all agree that it is important that Virginia election officials maintain an up-to-date registration list, this hurried review undertaken immediately before a major statewide election is not the way to ensure a fair and appropriate election process. As history has shown us, when politicians purge lists this close to an election, mistakes invariably happen and valid citizens may be denied their right to vote. In an attempt to engage in list maintenance, Virginia is participating in a data-matching program known as the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program (IVCP). The IVCP collects registration data from all participating states (including each voter’s full name, date of birth, address and, if provided, the last four digits of her or his Social Security number). The IVCP then attempts to match the records to identify any duplicates, and makes the results of this matching effort available to each participating state.

Editorials: The perils of two-tier voter registration systems | Franita Tolson/Alliance for Justice

In Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, the Supreme Court held that Arizona’s Proposition 200, which required proof of citizenship in order to register to vote in federal elections, was preempted by the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”) because the NVRA did not require such proof from voters. Shortly after the oral argument in the case, I noted that “the practical reality of compliance with the NVRA may very well mean that a state has to maintain two separate voter registration rolls” for state and federal elections. It appears that Arizona has taken this observation to heart, joining Kansas in setting up a voter registration system for state and local elections that is separate from its system governing federal elections. Under the dual system, voters who provide proof of citizenship will be able to vote in all elections, but those who do not will only be able to vote in federal elections. In adopting this approach, neither Kansas nor Arizona heeded my warning after Inter Tribal was decided about the significant risk of liability that comes with operating separate voter registration regimes.

Editorials: Philanthropy Must Help Heal the Breakdown in Democracy | Robert L. Gallucci/The Chronicle of Philanthropy

America’s democracy is in trouble. Given the current government shutdown, the rancor of our political process, the likelihood that we will go on lurching from crisis to crisis, and the low level of confidence Americans have in their government, that observation probably won’t stir much controversy. But it ought to be a call to action. As citizens, we should be deeply concerned that our political system is failing. As donors, we should be equally engaged. Philanthropic foundations pride themselves on taking on urgent and significant challenges. They don’t come more urgent or significant than the future of our republic. The malaise of representative democracy in this country is not only a betrayal of American ideals and principles. It has real and negative effects on our economy, the health of our institutions, and our standing in the world. Why should we in philanthropy get involved? Because it is in our interest.

Editorials: Florida voter purge will repeat mistakes | Robert M. Brandon/Orlando Sentinel

Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s attempt to establish confidence in Florida’s upcoming purge of voters has raised more questions than it answers. Rather than providing information on how this round of purges protects the integrity of the voter rolls, his so-called Project Integrity tour has proved that this voter-list-maintenance process lacks transparency, support and validity. Throughout his meetings with supervisors of elections and the public, Detzner and his staff did not answer many important questions on how the state plans to remove suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls while not repeating the same mistakes of the past. Despite Project Integrity’s façade of explaining the purge process and touting its validity, several supervisors of elections expressed concern with the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s SAVE database and the process of carrying out this purge. Many questions remained unanswered, such as what the potential cost will be and what the procedure will be to correct wrongly targeted voters.

Editorials: Kansas and Arizona continue voter suppression efforts | The Washington Post

Nothing frightens today’s Republican Party quite like the voters. Before the 2012 elections, GOP lawmakers in statehouses across the country tightened voter identification laws with one goal in common: to suppress turnout on Election Day among likely Democratic voters, especially minorities and the poor. It didn’t work. Now, harking back to the days of Jim Crow, they are at it again. In Arizona and Kansas, GOP officials are moving to adopt a two-tiered voting system, the effect of which would be to disenfranchise thousands of voters. The ploy relies on requiring birth certificates, passports and other documents that establish proof of citizenship in order to register to vote in state and local elections. Such documents are not necessary to register for federal elections. Many voters cannot easily produce such documents; fewer than half of Kansans and Arizonans possess a passport, and it’s a safe bet that many of them don’t have a birth certificate readily at hand either. That means that voter registration drives in gubernatorial, legislative and local county races, which, in the case of Democratic candidates, often target minority and poor neighborhoods, are likely to yield fewer new voters. The results are whiter and richer voters. That’s electoral gold for Republicans.

Editorials: Kansas election confusion | Lawrence Journal World

There are a number of ways Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could improve the accuracy and integrity of the state’s election system. Creating a two-tiered voter registration system whereby some voters would be qualified to cast ballots only in federal races is not one of them. A recent Associated Press story focused on the efforts of a consortium of 22 states that are working to update their voter rolls. An effort to identify voters who are registered in more than one state is known as the “Kansas project” in recognition of the leadership of Kansas and Kobach. A second project, the Electronic Registration Information Center is working to identify registered voters who have died. The goal of the projects seems to be simply to improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls, which is a concept most people should support. Cleaning up their records to prevent abuses should be a top priority for both local and state election officials.

Editorials: Voting fight: Is it race or is it politics? | Charlotte Observer

North Carolina’s new restrictions on voting may favor the Republican Party, but Democrats must prove more than that to beat them in court. GOP legislators who passed the rules last summer say they are designed to streamline and modernize the state’s voting while also blocking election fraud, a problem they describe as rampant and undetected. Opponents – including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – say the claims of fraud are a ruse and that the laws are part of a national campaign by conservatives to suppress voting by minorities, the poor and the young. Those groups are part of an emerging Democratic coalition that swung North Carolina to President Barack Obama in 2008 and came close again four years later. Who wins in court may hinge on whether judges believe Republicans were motivated by politics or race. In other words, have black voters been discriminated against? Or were they legal targets of hard-ball GOP politics? For now, what Republicans describe as reforms, critics call “the Monster Law.”

Editorials: Separate and Unequal Voting in Arizona and Kansas | Ari Berman/The Nation

In its 2013 decision in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Arizona’s proof of citizenship law for voter registration violated the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). In 2004, Arizona voters approved Proposition 200, a stringent anti-immigration law that included provisions requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote and government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked the proof of citizenship requirement, which it said violated the NVRA. Under the 1993 act, which drastically expanded voter access by allowing registration at public facilities like the DMV, those using a federal form to register to vote must affirm, under penalty of perjury, that they are US citizens. Twenty-eight million people used that federal form to register to vote in 2008. Arizona’s law, the court concluded, violated the NVRA by requiring additional documentation, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, passport or tribal forms. According to a 2006 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 7 percent of eligible voters “do not have ready access to the documents needed to prove citizenship.” The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court ruling, finding that states like Arizona could not reject applicants who registered using the NVRA form. Now Arizona and Kansas—which passed a similar proof-of-citizenship law in 2011—are arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision applies only to federal elections and that those who register using the federal form cannot vote in state and local elections. The two states have sued the Election Assistance Commission and are setting up a two-tiered system of voter registration, which could disenfranchise thousands of voters and infringe on state and federal law.

Editorials: Thoughts on Judge Posner’s Admission of Error on the Indiana Voter ID Law | Paul M. Smith/ACS

As the lawyer who argued the constitutional challenge to the Indiana Voter ID law in the Supreme Court in 2008, I was both fascinated and pleased to hear that Judge Richard Posner – the author of the Seventh Circuit majority opinion affirmed by the Supreme Courtin Crawford v. Marion County Elections Board – has now publicly stated that he was wrong.  It is refreshing, if not unprecedented, for a jurist to admit error on such a major case.  I was a little less pleased to see that he attempted to excuse his error by blaming the parties for not providing sufficient information to the court.  As he put it in an interview quoted in the New York Times, “We weren’t given the information that would enable that balance to be struck between preventing fraud and protecting voters’ rights.”  Really?  The information provided was enough for the late Judge Terence Evans, dissenting from Judge Posner’s decision, to say quite accurately: “Let’s not beat around the bush:  The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by folks believed to skew Democratic.”

Editorials: Separate but (not quite) equal voting is an awful idea | St. Louis Post Dispatch

The latest assault on Americans’ right to vote is coming from the states of Kansas and Arizona. Republican officials in both states have decided to ignore a key party principle — fiscal prudence — to create separate registration systems for state and federal elections. The sole purpose of the two-tiered system is to prevent as many potential Democratic voters as possible from voting in state and local elections. Faced with demographic shifts that threaten their chances at national office, Republicans are desperate to maintain their hold on state legislatures. As Missourians know all too well, legislatures can do a lot of damage. They also control congressional redistricting. Pre-filing of bills for the 2014 Missouri legislative session doesn’t begin until Dec. 1. But given that two-tiered voting comes straight out of the American Legislative Exchange Council handbook, and given that GOP legislative leaders in Missouri are spoon-fed by that right-wing organization, it would be an upset if Missouri doesn’t take up the cause next year. Be advised: Not only is two-tiered voting unfair and undemocratic, it’s also would be very complicated and expensive for local election boards to implement. Thus your tax dollars could be helping to subvert democracy.

Editorials: Kobach’s latest fraud – Kansas Secretary of State wants to create two-tiered system of voting | The Winfield Daily Courier

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach just can’t seem to quit tinkering with perceived voter ID and fraud issues. One would think that they are all his office deals with, though Kobach’s duties go well beyond being the chief elections officer in the state. Kobach’s latest irritant is what he sees as the difference between federal and state elections and who is allowed to vote. The two-tiered system he is proposing would let Kansans who have proved their citizenship to vote in congressional and state elections. Those who meet only federal voting standards, which do not have the voter ID requirement, could vote in federal elections but not state. Say what? That’s the Kobach way. It is a convoluted system that clearly underscores the secretary’s “my way or the highway” views of making voting a chore instead of an honor. Both Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court have declared that voters who use the federal form do not have to provide ID to prove their voting rights. But Kobach turns the other way when faced with issues that conflict with his beliefs.

Editorials: Citizens United, McCain-Feingold Fueled Congress’ Shutdown Politics | Paul Blumenthal/Huffington Post

Dysfunctional politics led a coalition of independent conservative groups and hardline Republican lawmakers to push for a showdown on Obamacare over a continuing resolution to fund the government and thus to shut down the government for more than two weeks. But what empowered a fracturing Republican Party to bring chaos on Washington? The short answer: a one-two punch rewriting of campaign finance law that drove legislators to heed their own parties’ extreme elements. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has blamed the 2002 McCain-Feingold reform law, calling it “the worst thing that ever happened to Congress.” By taking unlimited “soft money” away from the political parties, but especially from the Republican Party, the law empowered the nascent insurgents at the Club for Growth. President Barack Obama said it was the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that “contributed to some of the problems we’re having in Washington right now.” Post-Citizens United, money from independent groups has poured into elections.

Editorials: Voter ID laws restrict democracy | Arizona Daily Wildcat

Voter beware: Even if you are legally registered to vote at an Arizona residence, you may not be allowed to vote for state and local offices in 2014. Last week, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne released an opinion directing the state’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, to implement a split election system in which voters will be restricted to a much shorter ballot if they only completed a federal voter registration form, which does not require proof of citizenship. Arizona state law requires proof of citizenship from all voters in state and local elections, even for voters previously registered in another state or Arizona county, in the form of an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, a birth certificate, a passport, naturalization documents or a Tribal Certificate of Indian Blood. At the federal level, however, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 created a universal voter registration form requiring that a person sign under penalty of perjury that he or she is a U.S. citizen, and mandates that those with a driver’s license or social security number provide that information; those without are given a separate ID number by the state.

Editorials: Florida voter purge a bad idea | Miami Herald

Here we go again. Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner want to conduct another purge of Florida voter rolls. Their attempt to purge the rolls of noncitizens in 2012 was a complete flop. Florida’s Division of Elections, which Mr. Detzner oversees, botched the purge, which was conducted in advance of a presidential election, raising justified questions about the timing, and with little evidence that a clean-up was needed. It alienated voters and angered most election supervisors who oversee voter rolls in the state’s 67 counties. Using Florida driver license information, state officials initially came up with 182,000 potential noncitizens who were registered to vote. That number was whittled down to 2,600 and then to a measly 198, with county elections supervisors finding many errors. Snagged as noncitizens were U.S. military veterans, including one who fought at the Battle of the Bulge. State officials finally backed down and suspended the effort.

Editorials: Second-class Kansans | 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. Rather than admit that the state overstepped and call for the Legislature to rescind Kansas’ law, Kobach concocted a two-tiered system in which Kansans who legally register but don’t provide documented proof of citizenship (about 18,000 people so far) would be allowed to vote for president and members of Congress but not in state and local elections. “It’s un-American, it’s undemocratic, and there is no rational basis for it,” state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, told Bloomberg News.

Editorials: The Political-Monetary Complex | Thomas Edsall/New York Times

In its landmark 1976 decision Buckley v.Valeo, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of laws aimed at “the prevention of corruption and the appearance of corruption spawned by the real or imagined coercive influence of large financial contributions on candidates’ positions and on their actions if elected to office.” In that light, let’s take a look at the record of campaign contributions to Spencer Bachus, a Republican congressman from Alabama and a prime example of the interaction between special interest campaign contributions and the legislative process. For all intents and purposes, Bachus, who has announced that he plans to retire in January 2015, has spent his career as a wholly owned subsidiary of the finance industry. Bachus acknowledged as much in an interview with the Birmingham News on Dec. 9, 2010, shortly before he became chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services. “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated,” the Alabama congressman told the News. “My view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”

Editorials: Election reform can counter political dysfunction | Henry Bonilla/Charlie Gonzalez/The Hill

It has become painfully obvious that extreme partisanship in Washington is harming our economy, national security, and the future of our country.  The recent federal budget showdowns—and resulting risk to economic growth—are only the latest evidence.  While there is no one silver bullet, election reforms at the state level—including in Ohio—can improve on our national political dysfunction and reassure Ohioans and all Americans that our government can be restored to functionality. For example, many Americans deride the practice of drawing safe Republican and safe Democratic legislative districts that produces polarized candidates, reduces real competition and leaves voters without choices on Election Day.  Many share visceral reactions at the idea that one party in control can “stick it” to the other party when they draw district lines for the next decade.

Editorials: Florida must be accurate this time on check of voter eligibility | Bradenton Herald

The integrity of America’s elections is paramount to our democracy. As Florida prepares to undertake another purge of voter rolls, though, last year’s botched attempt at cleansing registration records of noncitizens cannot be duplicated. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner just finished a tour of the state to try to ensure the public that officials would perform better this time — and not send county elections supervisors flawed lists of eligible voters and minorities. Detzner’s just ended “Project Integrity” tour hinged on the admission of fault in 2012 and the promise of more solid data this time. But there’s reason to suspect another debacle.