Editorials: Equal voting rights still a dream in North Carolina? | Al Jazeera America

For Noah Read, Mondays have become a day set aside for civil disobedience. For months, the 42-year-old from Burlington, N.C., has rearranged his work schedule as a restoration contractor so he can participate in weekly protests. The Moral Monday rallies, launched by the North Carolina NAACP outside the state’s general assembly in late April, continue to attract thousands to Raleigh to voice opposition to a spate of Republican-led legislation that critics pan as socially regressive. The issues range from an education budget devoid of teacher raises to the state’s decision to end federal unemployment benefits. “There’s one issue that affects all of the constituents that are gathering at Moral Mondays, and that is voting rights and voting access,” Read said. Now, 50 years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the March on Washington, the state that was the site of the Greensboro sit-ins protesting segregation in 1960 is again a flash point in the debate over voting rights — proving for many that the struggle for racial equality is not over.

Editorials: The Supreme Court and Ed Corsi’s Life of Political Crime | Bradley Smith/Wall Street Journal

In the winter of 2008, Ed Corsi decided that he was tired of stewing about the politics in his home of Geauga County, Ohio, and the country at large. He started a website, put Thomas Jefferson’s quote, “The price of freedom . . . constant vigilance” at the top, dubbed the site “Geauga Constitutional Council,” and set about blogging his thoughts on local and national politics. So began his life of political crime. Over the next two years, Mr. Corsi and a few friends would sometimes gather to talk politics. He occasionally sponsored meetings featuring speakers (not political candidates) on public policy issues (not elections), and charged a nominal fee for seating to offset his costs. He and two friends passed out political pamphlets they made at the Geauga County Fair. Mr. Corsi spent $40 a month to maintain his website, and perhaps a couple hundred dollars a year in other expenses. According to the state of Ohio, however, these activities are illegal under campaign-finance laws because Mr. Corsi did not first register with the state, report to the state on his activities, and subject himself to the regulations governing the operation of a state political action committee.

Editorials: Creating barriers to voting | San Francisco Chronicle

A recent panel discussion on the Latino vote at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, moderated by actress Eva Longoria, took a couple of unexpected turns. One was the claim of a Republican strategist who said he was blacklisted on the orders of panelist John Pérez, the state Assembly speaker, a flap that drew the most media attention. The other, and more consequential, takeaway was the content of the session itself. The focus was not on immigration reform, education, high unemployment rates or even the Republican Party’s inability to connect with an emerging demographic force in American politics. The main topic of the day? Vote suppression. “This is the No. 1 issue that Latinos and other communities should be worried about,” Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, told the gathered journalists. Sanchez knows a little something about vote-chilling tactics. In 2006, a mailer was sent to 14,000 registered voters with Latino surnames and foreign birthplaces telling them it was a crime for immigrants to vote in a federal election. Her Republican opponent was convicted of obstruction of justice in connection with the scheme.

Editorials: Plan B for Voting Rights | New York Times

Voting-rights advocates generally don’t look to Justice Antonin Scalia for comfort. During oral arguments earlier this year in Shelby County v. Holder, the case in which the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Justice Scalia called the act a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” But a growing circle of legal scholars is focusing on a lower-profile ruling — issued one week before the Shelby County decision and written by Justice Scalia — that may point the way to a new approach to protecting voting rights. The 7-to-2 decision, in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, struck down an Arizona law requiring anyone who wanted to vote to provide proof of citizenship. It said the state could not impose a rule that was more restrictive than the federal “motor voter” law, which requires only a sworn statement of citizenship by the voter.

Editorials: North Carolina’s Student Voting Battle Is Not Over | Penda D. Hair/Huffington Post

Apparently, it wasn’t enough for the state of North Carolina to pass the most far-reaching and extreme voting law in the nation. The radical rollback of voting rights, signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory a few weeks ago, cuts a week from early voting, eliminates same-day voter registration, creates a strict photo ID requirement (which specifically prohibits college IDs from being accepted for voting), bans the pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, and expands the ability to challenge voters, among other sweeping provisions. Collectively, these changes make it harder to vote for people of color, students, seniors, people with disabilities and low-income North Carolinians. Yet the state did not stop there. Now two county election boards have employed a top-down approach to take over the voting process at the local level. They are specifically taking aim at student voting. Just days after the state’s restrictive voting law took hold, election officials in Watauga and Pasquotank counties announced policies to drastically curb student voting. First, the local elections board of Watauga County, home to Appalachian State University, voted to eliminate an early voting and general election polling place on campus. Now students seeking to cast a ballot will have to travel to an off-campus voting site that is absurdly difficult to reach: inaccessible by public transportation, and over a mile from campus, alongside a 45 mph road with no sidewalk. Worse still, in the Watauga County election board’s decision to condense what used to be three county polling places into one, this single precinct — which was designed for 1,500 voters and only has 35 parking spaces — will have to serve 9,300 voters.

Editorials: The Voting Rights Act decision as a clear example of judicial activism | Constitution Daily

Last week, Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would sue Texas over its new voting ID law and redistricting plan. Vowing that the U.S. wouldn’t allow the recent Supreme Court decision gutting Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act to invite states to suppress minority voting rights, Holder promised that the Obama administration would sue under a different provision of the Voting Rights Act—Section 2—which the Court didn’t address in the case. As Molly Redden has reported, the lawsuits face an uphill battle because courts have interpreted Section 2 of the voting rights act to ban only voting practices that are intentionally discriminatory and have established a high burden of proof for intentional discrimination. There is, however, another, deeper reason that the Section 2 suits are unlikely to succeed: several of the conservative justices on the Supreme Court have expressed deep skepticism about the constitutionality of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act itself.

Editorials: The Stranglehold on Our Politics | Elizabeth Drew/The New York Review of Books

Most of the electorate can’t be bothered with midterm elections, and this has had large consequences—none of them good—for our political system and our country. Voting for a president might be exciting or dutiful, worth troubling ourselves for. But the midterms, in which a varying number of governorships are up for election, as well as the entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate, just don’t seem worth as much effort. Such inaction is a political act in itself, with major effects. In the past ten elections, voter turnout for presidential contests—which requires a tremendous and expensive effort by the campaigns—has ranged from 51.7 to 61.6 percent, while for the midterms it’s been in the high thirties. Turnout was highest for the two midterms in which the Republicans made their greatest gains: in 1994, when Clinton was president, it was 41.1 percent and in 2010 it was 41.6 percent. In 2006, when Bush was president, the Democrats took over the House and Senate and won most of the governorships, turnout was the next highest, 40.4 percent. The quality of the candidates, the economy, and many unexpected issues of course determine the atmosphere of an election; but in the end turnout is almost always decisive.

Editorials: Block Texas voter ID in time for fall election | San Antonio Express-News

Equal access to the polls is a concept all Texans can hold dear. Which is why all Texans should welcome a Justice Department lawsuit seeking to block voter ID, which a previous panel of judges already found adversely affected minority voters. Our only complaint with the Justice Department complaint is that it does not seek injunctive relief, though this might come later. At the moment, voter ID is still in effect for the Nov. 5 election, early voting for which begins Oct. 21. The Justice Department might reason that federal judges in San Antonio will rule quickly on a separate case involving Texas’ 2011 redistricting maps. But, these judges are being asked to rule on a seldom-used portion of the Voting Rights Act — Section 3(c). A decision might not come quickly enough. Such a ruling would mean that Texas would have to get its voter ID law precleared by a panel of federal judges or the Justice Department. The state would surely appeal.

Editorials: In a victory for voting rights, NC elections board OKs student bid for local office | Facing South

The Republican-controlled North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously Tuesday to overturn a county election board’s ruling barring a student at a historically black college from running for local office because he’s registered to vote on campus. “Justice has prevailed,” Montravias King said after the board’s vote. Back in July, the senior at Elizabeth City State University filed to run for a local council seat. Local Republican Party official Richard “Pete” Gilbert challenged King’s candidacy last month, arguing that because his dorm address was only temporary he did not meet the residency requirements to run for city office. Voting rights advocates pointed out that North Carolina’s residency requirements for running for office and voting are the same. “This is a case about whether college students across the state can be denied the right to vote,” said King’s attorney, Clare Barnett with the Durham, N.C.-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Editorials: Obama Electoral Commission Omission: Our Voting System Needs Real Reform | The Daily Beast

Our democracy is in disrepair. The Supreme Court recently crippled the pre-clearance remedy of the Voting Rights Act. Efforts are underway in a number of states, north and south, to limit voting by imposing stringent identification standards. The 40 percent of Americans who are independents are barred from participating in primary elections in most states, unless one of the major parties invites them. Our rigged system of redistricting is manifestly partisan. There is unprecedented gridlock in Washington and alarming levels of corruption in State legislatures. This sorry state of affairs has not gone entirely unnoticed. Recently, President Obama appointed a Presidential Commission on Election Administration, in response to breakdown and conflict in the electoral arena. Its mandate is to “promote the efficient administration of elections,” an understatement of the problem if there ever was one. Unfortunately, the Commission appears to be the usual status quo defending effort, bipartisan by Washington standards. It’s led by co-chairs Robert F. Bauer, general counsel to the Democratic National Committee, and Benjamin L. Ginsberg, who served as national counsel to the Romney presidential campaign and is now counsel to the Republican Governors Association. The gap between the magnitude of the problem and the narrowness of the Commission’s mandate is ridiculously wide, like opening an umbrella in the middle of a hurricane. This fact has drawn comments by a range of democracy reform advocates in the context of the Commission’s poorly attended hearings.

Editorials: Sensenbrenner an unlikely GOP champion of the Voting Rights Act | The Hill

The big surprise at the Republican National Committee’s lunch celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was the loud ovation for an elderly white conservative. The tall, 70-year-old Congressman hobbled to the front of the room with a cane. He had to be helped up the stairs to the stage. But once he reached the microphone, his call for Congress to restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) had the crowd scrambling to get to their feet and applaud him. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) defied political stereotypes and several other Republicans when he announced an end-of-the-year deadline for reviving the pre-clearance provision of the VRA. “I am committed to restoring the Voting Rights Act as an effective tool to prevent discrimination,” said Sensenbrenner to repeated cheers. He was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when a bipartisan group approved reauthorization of the VRA in 2006. “This is something that has to be done by the end of the year so that a revised and constitutional Voting Rights Act is in place by the 2014 elections — both the primaries and general election,” Sensenbrenner told his largely black Republican audience.

Editorials: Colorado Secretray of State Gessler repeals controversial email/internet voting rules | Marilyn Marks/Colorado Statesman

On Thursday, Secretary of State Scott Gessler repealed the controversial email/internet voting rules that had been promulgated for the two recall elections for use by absentee voters. The rules were the subject of much controversy and were challenged in the Libertarian Party’s lawsuit concerning a variety of recall election procedures. While the Denver District Court found some of the recall rules in violation of statutes, Judge McGahey seemed willing to allow the use of email ballots, “for this election.” He ordered that absentee ballots must be made available to everyone without requiring an “excuse.” That ruling was anticipated, as Colorado has been a “no-excuse” state for many years. The use of email rather than mail or hand delivery for absentee ballots would proliferate, and the Secretary quickly decided that this was unworkable and repealed the rule. We applaud his quick decision to provide more security to the recall election processes. The Libertarians (and Citizen Center) had fought the introduction of email ballots for any use other than military overseas with no safer option (that is current law), and true medical emergencies. The original SOS rules issued August 16 allowed email transmission and return of all absentee ballots. After considerable public input, revised rules were issued to decrease the return of ballots by email, but still allow the email delivery of ballots to voters to be returned by U.S. Mail.

Editorials: Election 2013 Essays: The state of Australian democracy | The Conversation

Given that Australian voters will do their democratic duty by heading to the polls this Saturday, now seems a perfect time to pause and ask: what does the 2013 federal election tell us about the health of Australian democracy? With politicians increasingly prone to meddle with laws surrounding the electoral roll and the power of money in our political campaigns, the pulse of Australia’s democracy may not be as strong as we had once thought.

At the beginning of the 20th century there was no doubt about Australia’s democratic leadership. In 1903, through a massive nation-wide effort, Australia enrolled more of its population to vote in the forthcoming election than any country had done before. Commonwealth electoral officials estimated that 96% of the adult population, including both women and men, were now on the roll. The cause was further advanced in 1911 when enrolment was made compulsory, largely at the urging of the Chief Electoral Officer. Australia pioneered the creation of professional electoral administrators with a professional interest in the achievement of an electoral roll that was comprehensive as well as accurate. How does Australia compare in 2013?

Editorials: Students’ voting rights should not be suppressed | Arizona Daily Wildcat

When students choose to attend college in another city, they become a part of that town. Students living on campus are impacted by the decisions of elected officials in the surrounding community. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled in Symm v. United States that students have a right to vote in their college town, yet Richard “Pete” Gilbert, Republican Party chairman of Pasquotank County in North Carolina, apparently hasn’t gotten the memo. Montravias King, a student at Elizabeth City State University in Pasquotank County, had been registered to vote at his campus address since 2009. But when he filed the paperwork to run for city council, Gilbert successfully challenged his eligibility before the County Board of Elections, arguing that a college dorm is a temporary residence and therefore insufficient for residency requirements. In North Carolina, the requirements to run for office are the same as those to vote, and Gilbert plans to file additional challenges against other ECSU students’ eligibility.

Editorials: What Today’s Journalists Can Learn From MLK Coverage | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic

The golden anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech have appropriately fostered among a great many people unalloyed feelings of pride and nostalgia. Here was a moment of peaceful assembly, a mass redress of elemental grievances of the people, by the people, and for the people, that was capped off by one of the most memorable speeches in American history — one that has eerie relevance 50 years later. That day the meek raised their voices, sounding in the name of justice, and the rest of the nation listened. Soon there was a Civil Rights Act and, a year later, the Voting Rights Act. But as we look back closely on the events of late August 1963, we are reminded, too, of how those events were (or were not) covered by the journalists of that day. It’s easy to look back and glorify the events of August 28, 1963 — to see in speaker John Lewis, for example, a portrait of the hero he would become, 559 days later, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. But that’s not necessarily how the March and the Speech were covered in real time. There was in 1963 a level of “false equivalence” in reporting on civil rights that, in the name of “objectivity,” equated black demands for racial equality with white concerns about getting there.

Editorials: State’s defense of sorry voter ID law drags on | The Dallas Morning News

Now facing a Department of Justice lawsuit, the state of Texas has a familiar adversary in its effort to defend a voter ID law that represents the height of expensive political grandstanding. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that he is joining other court challenges to the law, which was struck down as discriminatory by one federal court but then cleared to go under a broader Supreme Court ruling this summer on the Voting Rights Act. This newspaper hopes the new challenges to the ill-conceived law prevail. Reactions from top elected Texas officials to Holder’s lawsuit reek of irony. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst complained that there is “no end to the tricks the Obama administration will play to undermine Texas.” Actually, it was the GOP-dominated Legislature in 2011 that undermined years of Texas tradition honoring the county-issued voter certificate at the polls. In substituting five different types of government photo IDs, lawmakers used the pretext that they were fighting rampant voter fraud, a lame excuse then and now for passing what federal judges called the strictest voter ID provisions in the nation. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott decried Holder’s political motivations in siding with Democratic groups, and we aren’t blind to those bedfellows. But neither were we blind to the utter failure by Republicans in the Legislature to prove their contention that long-standing Texas election laws were widely exploited by voter impersonators at the polls.

Editorials: The Fight for Voting Rights, 50 Years Later | New York Times

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the country can take pride in progress made toward the guarantee of equal rights for all. Yet it is disheartening to watch the continuing battles over the right to vote, a core goal of the civil rights movement and the foundation of any functioning democracy. The latest fights, over harsh new voting restrictions in Texas and North Carolina, have only made the need for comprehensive and lasting protection of voting rights that much clearer. In June, the Supreme Court hobbled the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most effective civil rights laws in American history. A central element of that law required certain states and jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to obtain federal permission before making changes to their election laws. Finding that “things have changed dramatically,” the court struck down that part of the act.

Editorials: North Carolina Restricts Voting Access in the Name of Reform | Jurist

In the final hours of the North Carolina General Assembly’s 2013 session, the Republican-controlled legislature passed House Bill 589 [PDF] (HB 589), an omnibus package of election law “reforms” aimed at further “securing the vote.” A few weeks later HB 589 was signed into law by Republican Governor Pat McCrory, despite the Governor’s initial admission that he “doesn’t know enough” about certain provisions of the legislation and in the face of growing opposition from the public. The legislation’s expected effect of diminishing the ability of North Carolina voters from casting their ballots seems incongruous with the legislation’s preamble stating in part: “[a]n act to restore confidence in government.” In effect, this legislative effort appears to be a not-so-veiled attack on voting which will make the registration process and actual act of casting a vote more onerous, particularly for the poor, minority, college-age youth and elderly voters. Until recently, 40 of North Carolina’s 100 counties were covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Prior to the US Supreme Court ruling on Shelby County v. Holder in June, election law changes impacting any of these counties (and many others nationally) required preclearance review by the US Department of Justice. The Shelby County holding invalidated Section 4 (which set forth the formula for determining those jurisdictions subject to preclearance) and effectively voided Section 5 (the preclearance provision) of the VRA. It now appears that the Court’s June decision prompted Republican members of the General Assembly to revisit previously filed legislation [PDF] intent on further restricting ballot access and scaling back current election laws knowing that the sometimes long and arduous road of preclearance would likely not need to be traveled.

Editorials: U.S. v. Texas and the Strident Language of the Voting Rights Fight | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic

Ballot integrity measure. That’s what Republican officials in Texas call SB 14, the voter identification measure designed to make it measurably harder for people there to vote. Not all people, mind you. Just people who don’t own or drive cars, and people who can’t afford to take time off from work to travel long distances to state offices that are not open at convenient times for working people, and elderly people who are ill and young people who cannot afford to pay the cost of new IDs they have never before needed. People, everyone acknowledges, who are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican even in the still Red State of Texas. So the headline alone — United States v. Texas — tells you a great deal about what you need to know about the new civil rights lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last Thursday in federal court in Corpus Christi. It tells you that the battle over voting rights in the wake of Shelby County v. Holder, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in late June that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, has become the latest keynote in the nasty national debate between the Obama Administration and its most ardent conservative critics. And it suggests that things are likely going to get worse before they get better.

Editorials: How Gerrymandering Has Created a Segregated House | Garance Franke-Ruta/The Atlantic

Reading Robert Penn Warren’s 1964 interview with Martin Luther King Jr. along with Beth Reinhard’s piece on how African-Americans still lack clout in Congress makes clear a conundrum at the heart of the unfinished revolution King helped lead. Namely, the minority-vote protections locked in by Section 2 the Voting Rights Act of 1965 worked best to ensure minorities had a voice in their own self-government at the federal level in an environment in which the party that elected African-Americans also controlled the House of Representatives, as Democrats did from 1955 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2011. King spoke about how inequality is fostered by physical segregation, which leads to segregated conversational communities. “Our society must come to see that this whole question of, of integration is not merely a matter of quantity — having the same this and that in terms of a building or a desk or this — but it’s a matter of quality. It’s, if I can’t communicate with a man, I’m not equal to him. It’s not only a matter of mathematics; it’s a matter of psychology and philosophy,” he told Penn Warren. It’s an important point, and one we consider too infrequently these days, in which a more numbers-based approach to questions of equality often reigns supreme.

Editorials: Safeguard voting rights in Kansas | Wichita Eagle

If Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt feel a responsibility to safeguard voting rights, Kansans wouldn’t know it from their comments Monday related to the state’s 8-month-old requirement of proof of citizenship to register to vote. The voter registrations of nearly 14,000 Kansans, including more than 2,400 in Sedgwick County, are “in suspense” because they haven’t provided the necessary birth certificates, passports or other documents – or they have, to the driver’s license office where they registered, and the papers just haven’t been passed along to election officials. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had promised lawmakers that the document sharing would be seamless. When Brownback was asked Monday about the problem, he acknowledged an interest in the voting booth being “open for people” but said, according to the Lawrence Journal-World: “It’s in the secretary of state’s purview.” He also said: “We’ll watch and review the process as it’s coming forward, but there is a constitutional officer that’s in charge of that.”

Editorials: U.S. sues Texas over voter ID | Lyle Denniston/SCOTUSblog

The Justice Department went to court again on Thursday to challenge the legality of Texas’s voter ID law — a law that Texas says it has put back into effect since the Supreme Court freed the state from federal court supervision.  In that new lawsuit and in a new maneuver in a pending case over new election districting maps for Texas, the Department will be asking that the state be placed back under court oversight over all of its election laws, for at least a decade.  Both new moves were announced ina press release.  The legal filings are not yet available. “We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “The Department will take action against jurisdictions that attempt to hinder access to the ballot box, no matter where it occurs.” Holder said the Texas filings were “the latest action to protect voting rights, but will not be the last.”  That statement may have been a signal that the Obama administration will also mount a legal challenge to the sweeping new North Carolina law limiting voting rights in that state.

Editorials: Was 2012 the Worst Year Ever for Voting Rights? | The Daily Beast

This past election day, a 50-year-old African-American voter in Mississippi, whose name has not been released, showed up to her local polling station to cast her vote in the general election. She had voted in the same county since she was 18 but was told her name was not on the rolls and that she would have to vote via a provisional ballot. As the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington approaches, civil rights activists say one of the most powerful barometers of progress for African-Americans—easy access to the ballot box—is under attack. The 2012 election cycle represented “the largest legislative effort to rollback voting rights since the post-reconstruction era,” says Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization that released a report along with Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Thursday arguing that voting changes in 2012 disproportionately affected African-American voters. The last two years have been a particularly tumultuous time for voting rights. According to the Advancement Project’s report, 180 bills they dubbed “restrictive” were introduced in 41 states between January 2011 and October 2012. Laws requiring voters to show ID at the polls—perhaps the most controversial piece of new voting legislation—were proposed in 38 states. On Thursday, the Justice Department announced that it plans to sue Texas on its new voter ID law.

Editorials: Party season: In a tight German election, differences blur and hints of deals abound | The Economist

What a sorry state Germany’s two big political blocs are in, a month before the election on September 22nd. In the 1970s more than 90% of West Germans voted for the two “people’s parties”: the “red” Social Democrats (SPD) and the “black” Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union. The difference was clear: red stood for unions and fairness, black for conservatives, business and the church. But the people have deserted the people’s parties. In the 2009 election, almost half the voters chose smaller competitors: chiefly the Greens, the Left and the Free Democrats (FDP). The blacks and reds have also lost members: the CDU 40% since unification in 1990, the SPD almost 50%. In a recent poll 69% of voters said they could not even tell the difference. It was an SPD-led government that pushed through labour-market reforms in 2003. The government of the CDU chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been inching leftward, ogling everything from rent controls to a minimum wage.

Editorials: Discard Electronic Voting Machines, save Indian democracy | India Tribune

Many in India still have not come to grips the serious consequences of the status quo that the Election Commis-sion (EC) is maintaining by buying hundreds of thousands of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that are easily manipulatable. Most constituencies in India are won by thin margins. In current election scenarios where no party has absolute majority, this can have a very drastic  effect.  Just take this scenario: Let us say without any EVM manipulation (say paper ballots), Party-1 would have secured 175 seats and Party-2 secured 145 seats. Now, how can this election results be manipulated. Let us identify 15 constituencies where seats are known to have been won by thin margins. Now all it takes is to manipulate as small as 5 percent of EVMs (or even much less) in these 15 constituencies to tilt the favor from Party-1 to Party-2. Each party now have 160 seats and neither has majority! So, we changed the whole power scenario by manipulating just a tiny portion of the EVMs in a handful of constituencies.

Editorials: Against a “Post-Racial” Voting Rights Act | Spencer Overton/American Prospect

In June, five Supreme Court Justices rolled back the Voting Rights Act, widely considered the most effective tool in preventing discrimination in our nation’s history. Section 5 of the act required that certain states and localities “preclear” proposed election changes with federal officials to ensure the changes were not discriminatory.  The Court ruled that the formula used to determine which jurisdictions needed to get preclearance was outdated and unconstitutional. For those of us who care about voting rights, the question now is how do we respond? Some have argued that Congress should update the Voting Rights Act by passing ambitious election reforms. Such proposals include mandating shorter voting lines, making registration more convenient, and passing less restrictive identification requirements. For example, Sam Issacharoff and Richard Pildes—both New York University law professors who advised the Obama campaign—argue that we should look beyond the race-discrimination approach and adopt general election reforms that are race-neutral. The effort to update the Voting Rights Act, however, should focus on preventing voting discrimination—not general election reforms. Promoting broader access is a critical democratic goal, but it is distinct from the goal of preventing voting discrimination. By analogy, a tax deduction for mortgage interest promotes access to home ownership, but separate laws are still needed to prevent banks from engaging in predatory lending—different problems require different solutions. Voting discrimination is real, and broad election reform is not sufficient to address it.

Editorials: Lansing should act quickly to remedy Detroit election mess | Detroit Free Press

When the Wayne County Board of Canvassers refused to certify the results of Detroit’s Aug. 6 mayoral primary Tuesday, citing irregularities in the tabulation of write-in votes, many reflexively laid the blame at City Clerk Janice Winfrey’s doorstep. Only in Detroit, Winfrey’s critics clucked, could election officials mishandle enough votes to turn what had been declared a landslide victory for write-in candidate Mike Duggan into a lopsided victory for his rival, Benny Napoleon. But by Wednesday, just 24 hours after county canvassers asked the state to conduct a recount, the evidence suggested that they and County Clerk Cathy Garrett may have grossly overreacted to minor variations in the way some Elections Department workers recorded write-in votes for Duggan.

Editorials: North Carolina’s speedy vote suppression tactics show exactly why the Voting Rights Act was working | Rick Hasen/Slate Magazine

Usually it takes years to judge when the Supreme Court gets something very wrong. Think of Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the court in the 2010 campaign-finance case, Citizens United, freeing corporations to spend money on elections. He wrote that the “appearance of [corporate] influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy,” a point that remains hotly debated even as the amount of money in federal elections skyrockets. But the conservative justices’ decision this past June in Shelby County v. Holder, striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, has already unleashed in North Carolina the most restrictive voting law we’ve seen since the 1965 enactment of the VRA. Texas is restoring its voter ID law which had been blocked (pursuant to the VRA) by the federal government. And more is to come in other states dominated by Republican legislatures. Substituting their own judgment for that of Congress, the five justices in the Shelby County majority expressed confidence that the act’s “preclearance” provision was no longer necessary, and that there would be ample other tools to fight discrimination in voting. That the conservative justices have already been proven wrong a few scant weeks after the decision came down offers little solace for the voters of North Carolina, who ironically will have to try to fix the problem using the very mechanism of voting—which the North Carolina legislature is inhibiting.

Editorials: Of course compulsory voting is a good thing | Van Badham/The Guardian

Australia is one of only 10 countries in the world that enforce compulsory voting, and one of only two majority-English-speaking countries to do so, alongside our neighbour Singapore. It’s a policy that activates loud bleating of complaint from the neo-libertarian crowd. Their opposition to compulsory voting is usually expressed in the identical vocabulary of waaaaaaaaaaah as their resistance to wearing seatbelts, educating their children with other people’s children, not plastering stores’ shelves with titty-porn, and being told they really shouldn’t smoke in front of a baby. Compulsory voting is also opposed by politicians keen to attack it for partisan advantage. As recently as the last Liberal government in 2004, the infernal former Liberal senator Nick Minchin had to be stopped from within his own party from removing a provision that has been our nation’s democratic backbone for 89 years. We can all be grateful that, at least in this instance, everyone’s favourite Liberal-of-last-resort, Petro Georgiou, found a flaming sword of sufficient brightness to banish Satan back to his cave. Liberals of Minchin’s ilk have realpolitik reasons to campaign against compulsory voting. In the vast majority of countries where voting is optional – especially the liberal democratic states of the West most demographically similar to our own – it’s a long established fact that voting turnout is massively concentrated amongst those communities with higher levels of education, urbanity, wealth, health, control of their own time and the other privileges of inherited social capital.

Editorials: What Does the Constitution Actually Say About Voting Rights? | Garrett Epps/The Atlantic

Since the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder in June, conservative governments in the South and elsewhere have raced to introduce new voting restrictions. Most prominent in the attacks is the comprehensive vote-restriction law passed by the Republican majority in the North Carolina legislature. The law cuts back early voting, restricts private groups from conducting voter-registration drives, eliminates election-day voter registration, and imposes the strictest voter ID rules in the country. There is evidence that Republican legislatures elsewhere will follow North Carolina’s lead. Neither the American people nor the federal courts would tolerate restrictions of this sort if they were imposed on free speech, free assembly, freedom of religion, or freedom to petition government for redress of grievances. For that matter, many Southern states–and probably a majority of the Supreme Court–would reject far less onerous restrictions on the right to “keep and bear arms.” Yet each of those rights is mentioned only once in the Constitution. The “right to vote” is mentioned five times–and yet the Court has brushed it aside as a privilege that states may observe at their convenience. Even an overwhelming majority of Congress–which is given the power to enforce the right in no fewer than four different places in the Constitution–cannot protect this right more strongly than the Court feels appropriate. What would happen if we took the Constitution’s text on this matter seriously?