Editorials: Get to Know Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act | Abby Rapoport/American Prospect

arlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the most potent provision of the Voting Rights Act: Section 5, which had required nine states and a number of individual counties with long histories of voter discrimination to clear any new election law changes with the feds. In the weeks since the decision, voting rights advocates have been searching for new strategies to protect voting rights. And now, in recent days, a previously ignored portion of the Voting Rights Act has become a key tool in the fight. Advocates—as well as Attorney General Eric Holder—are hoping Section 3 will prove to be a powerful tool in the face of an onslaught of voting restrictions from Republican legislatures—and can at least partially replace the much stronger voter protections the Supreme Court took away. Since that Supreme Court decision, the states that had been covered by Section 5 have run roughshod over voting rights. Texas has set about implementing a voter ID law—previously nixed by the DOJ under the Section 5—that would require some people to drive 176 miles round trip on a weekday to get the government-issued photo ID they’ll now need to vote. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has announced he would re-start a purge of non-citizens from the voter rolls. North Carolina, for its part, passed what is likely the most sweeping set of voting restrictions since the original Voting Rights Act was passed.

Editorials: Modern Vote Suppression Better Than Jim Crow | Daily Intelligencer

A pervasive sense of racial victimization has afflicted conservatives during the Obama years — the feeling that they are beset by a combination of false accusations of racism and actual anti-white racial animus that they dare not denounce lest they trigger still more false accusations of racism. That bundle of grievances resurfaced last week when North Carolina Republicans passed sweeping restrictions on voting rights, and Hillary Clinton declared in a speech, “Anyone who says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention.” Cast once again as the heirs to the political tradition of the segregated South, conservatives have lashed back. It is certainly true that modern Republican vote suppression pales in comparison with the pre-1965 version, in method and scale, to the point where equating the two is absurd. Segregated states used violence and “literacy tests” to disenfranchise the vast majority of the black population. The modern analogue instead works around the margins. Nobody is forcibly prohibited from voting. Instead, bureaucratic hurdles discourage some small share of disproportionately Democratic voters from voting. Life can be hectic, time is short, there are kids and jobs, paperwork is a hassle — Republican election policy is to use these weapons to gain a few percentage points here and there. People with less money have less flexibility at work and less ability to navigate government paperwork requirements. It’s far, far less vicious than Jim Crow, and conservatives are justified in taking umbrage at the easy, frequent equations between the two that pervade liberal discourse.

Editorials: North Carolina House Bill 589; or, Politics in the New Third World | Mark Axelrod/Huffington Post

I find it increasingly difficult to believe that certain states in the alleged “United States” would mindfully attempt to undermine the right to vote especially in relation to many of those “third world” countries that the U.S. often dismisses as being, well, third world. Case in point is the travesty that is North Carolina House Bill 589 which, among other things, requires voters to show photo identification — a driver’s license, passport, veteran’s ID, tribal card — (though, with all sympathies to Michael Jordan, student IDs are not an acceptable form of identification); “reduces early voting by a week, eliminates same-day registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and a student civics program, kills an annual state-sponsored voter registration drive and lessens the amount of public reporting required for so-called dark money groups, also known as 501(c)(4)s.” This is all set up for the 2016 elections presumably as a way to reduce the monster that is voter fraud even though Governor McCrory has gone on record stating the bill was necessary even if there are very few reported cases of voter fraud. “Even if the instances of misidentified people casting votes are low, that shouldn’t prevent us from putting this non-burdensome safeguard in place.” He then went on to opine, “Just because you haven’t been robbed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lock your doors at night or when you’re away from home.”

Editorials: A New Danger to Campaign Law | New York Times

Republican operatives are charging forward with their efforts to sabotage the Federal Election Commission in its lawful obligation to police campaign abuses. The six-member commission is evenly divided between the two parties, but the Republican vice chairman, Donald McGahn, has spent his tenure as a partisan obstructionist, adroitly engineering 3-to-3 standoff votes to block penalties and other recommendations by staff investigators who uncover abuses by big-money campaigners. Now Mr. McGahn aims to take advantage of a temporary Democratic vacancy and 3-to-2 Republican edge to push through rules that would make total lackeys of commission staff members by blocking them from the usual sharing of information with the Justice Department and other agencies. In his partisan cunning, Mr. McGahn would even bar them from looking into possible violations publicly reported in news media and on the Internet.

Editorials: Here’s Where Rand Paul Can Find ‘Objective Evidence’ of Vote Suppression | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic

Dear Senator Rand Paul:

If you want to be president of the United States one day, if you want more people to take you seriously as an independent thinker within the Republican Party, if you want to lead your party back to control of the Senate, or if more modestly you want simply to tether yourself to some form of reality, you are going to have to stop making false and insulting statements like you did Wednesday when you declared: “I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.” I guess it all depends upon your definition of “objective evidence.” On the one hand, there are the factual findings about evidence and testimony contained in numerous opinions issued recently by federal judges, both Republican and Democrat, who have identified racially discriminatory voting measures. And on the other hand, there is your statement that none of this is “objective.” It’s a heavy burden you’ve given yourself, Senator — proving that something doesn’t exist when we all can see with our own eyes that it does. Last August, for example, three federal judges struck down Texas’s photo identification law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because it would have led “to a regression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.” Those judges did find that some of the evidence presented to them was “invalid, irrelevant or unreliable” — but that was the evidence Texas offered in support of its discriminatory law. You should read this ruling before you talk about minorities and voting rights.

Editorials: Angela Merkel and German voter apathy | The Star Online

Germans sleep better, Bismarck once said, when they don’t know how sausages and laws are made. A century and a half later, Angela Merkel seems to be modelling an election campaign on the musings of Germany’s “Iron Chancellor”; the modern day chancellor is avoiding detailed discussion of what she would do with a third term and instead emphasising her personal appeal over policy prescriptions. In five weeks’ time Germans will vote in what has been billed as the most important election of the year in Europe, a continent struggling to emerge from years of financial and economic crisis. Yet there is virtually no debate about the major problems facing Germany – from handling its exit from nuclear energy to addressing an ageing population and articulating a vision for the euro zone.

Editorials: Our Failure to Stop You from Voting Means We Weren’t Trying to Stop You from Voting | American Prospect

North Carolina recently passed what can only be described as an omnibus voter suppression law, including a whole range of provisions from demanding photo IDs to cutting back early voting to restricting registration drives, every single one of which is likely to make it harder for minorities, poor people, and/or young people to register and vote. It’s not just the Tar Heel state—across the South, states that have been freed by the Supreme Court from their prior obligation under the Voting Rights Act to get permission from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws are moving with all deliberate speed to make voting as difficult as possible. Since these are Republican states, these laws are going to pass (some have already), and I think it’s worth addressing what is fast becoming the main argument Republicans use to defend them. They’ve always said that their only intent was to ensure the “integrity” of elections and protect against voter impersonation, a virtually nonexistent problem. But they recently realized that they’ve got a new, and seemingly compelling, piece of evidence they can muster against charges of voter suppression. Many voter-ID laws were passed over the last few years (the Supreme Court upheld voter ID in 2008), and as Republicans will tell you (see for example here or here), turnout among blacks hasn’t declined, and in some cases has gone up. Blacks even turned out at a slightly higher rate than whites overall in the 2012 election. As Rand Paul recently said, “I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”

Editorials: North Carolina law takes war on voting rights to a new low | The Washington Post

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision, which gutted significant portions of the Voting Rights Act, it’s difficult to say which of the many recently passed voter-suppression bills constitutes the greatest threat to that most sacred of American freedoms: the right to vote. The contest has several leading contenders, but the winner just might be North Carolina’s especially draconian bill, signed into law on Monday. The bill includes the usual provisions that have come to characterize the quiet assault on the franchise: a shortened early-voting period, the elimination of the state’s successful same-day registration program and, of course, a strict photo identification requirement despite any evidence of voter fraud in the state.

Editorials: Vote suppression is the real voting fraud in South Carolina | Brett Bursey/The State

When I saw Rep. Alan Clemmons’ guest column, “Voting problems continue to haunt us” (July 21), I was hoping he’d explain his part in peddling the myth of dead people voting in South Carolina, and apologize to the people he misled. He did neither. Instead, he again claimed an “undeniable presence of election fraud in South Carolina,” and took a cheap shot at the S.C. Progressive Network to make his point. He referenced an instance years ago when bogus forms were turned in by someone the network hired to do voter registration in Florence County. I caught the fraud myself and called SLED and the County Election Board the day the forms were submitted. No fraudulent votes were cast. I testified against the perpetrator, and he went to jail. The system worked.

Editorials: No fair play in Moscow mayoral election | Russia Beyond The Headlines

The first major scandals of the Moscow mayoral campaign have erupted. The Prosecutor General of Russia claimed to have found evidence that opposition candidate Alexei Navalny received funding for his campaign from overseas, while Navalny has released information about the misdealings of his main rival, current acting mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin. Experts think the mudslinging is unlikely to swing voters one way or the other, although Navalny’s alleged transgressions may lead to his removal from the race. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) was the first to drive attention towards the source of funding in Navalny’s election campaign. An investigation by the Prosecutor General’s office following a complaint filed by LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has revealed that more than 300 foreign entities – businesses, private individuals and anonymous donors – from 46 countries and 347 addresses used the Yandex.Money electronic payment system to send money to the digital wallets of Navalny and other members of his campaign team. According to reports from Russian newswire Interfax, the evidence has been forwarded to the Investigation Committee so that a criminal proceeding can be initiated.

Editorials: Texas and the Voting Rights Act: Bigotry for the right reasons | The Economist

Last month Eric Holder, the attorney-general, asked a district court to make Texas “pre-clear” any proposed changes to its election procedures with the federal government. Texas was doing this as a matter of course in every election for the last 40 years: it was subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). That section requires jurisdictions with a history of discrimination against minority voters to get approval from either the Justice Department or a federal district court in Washington, DC before changing their election procedures to ensure those changes have “neither discriminatory purpose or effect”. But the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v Holder last June made Section 5 vestigial. The court found that the formula used to determine which jurisdictions must pre-clear changes was outdated, but it did not, as some VRA opponents had hoped, find Section 5 a violation of the tenth amendment. Hence Mr Holder’s turn to the previously little-used (because little-needed) Section 3 of the VRA, which lets courts mandate pre-clearance for jurisdictions found to be violating the 14th- or 15th-amendment guarantees of equal protection and access to the ballot. In this case, Mr Holder argues, the violation stems from state redistricting plans proposed in 2011—plans that a federal court already rejected, saying that they “provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than [the Court had] space, or need, to address.”

Editorials: Hillary Clinton's voter rights crusade | theguardian.com

increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will be taking another shot at the presidency in 2016. She hasn’t announced her candidacy yet and may not do so for at least two more years, but preparations appear to be underway – and pretty much everyone seems to be assuming that getting the Democratic nomination is a done deal for her. Which, of course, would mean that we might soon have our first woman president. Time will tell how this will all play out, but at least we can take comfort in the knowledge that if Mrs Clinton actually does become the 45th “POTUS”, it will not be because she or any other power players in the Democratic party spent years devising ingenious schemes to disenfranchise blocs of voters who tend to support the opposition. On Monday, in the first of a series of policy speeches, Hillary Clinton spoke about the worrying implications of the US supreme court’s recent decision to strike down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The provision required states with a history of discrimination to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) before they passed any laws that changed voting procedures. Clinton pointed out that in the past 15 years, the VRA has been used to block nearly 90 attempts to pass discriminatory voting laws. Since the provision was struck down just over a month ago, Republican law makers in several states have wasted no time ramming through highly restrictive voting laws that will make it more difficult, if not impossible, for millions of Americans to exercise their right to vote.

Editorials: Burning the house to roast the pig: Can elections be saved by banning political speech? | SCOTUSblog

The central paradox of most campaign finance reform measures is that they are premised on the odd notion that political speech is far too important to be free. That paradox presents itself to the Justices yet again in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission as they prepare to rule on another First Amendment challenge to a campaign finance restriction on political spending. Of course, the proponents of such regulations rarely frame the issue that way.  Rather, they generally argue that the First Amendment was never intended to allow unfettered political participation in the form of campaign contributions or expenditures and that the activity they seek to regulate is not really protected expression. They also argue that the subjects of their intended regulation are not entitled to constitutional privileges. This has generated two great bumper sticker themes that have dominated the “tastes great-less filling” shouting match over political campaign regulation since Buckley v. Valeo (1976), and Citizens United v. FEC (2010):  (1) Is money speech?, and (2)  Are corporations people?  These aren’t the actual legal questions at issue of course, but are merely the caricatures of the underlying questions as translated in the political realm.

Editorials: The long road ahead for voting rights | NC Policy Watch

State GOP lawmakers wasted no time ramping up their efforts to drastically change voting in North Carolina after the U.S. Supreme Court, in Shelby County v. Holder, gutted the requirement that certain jurisdictions get proposed voting changes pre-approved. “Now we can go with the full bill,” Senator Tom Apodaca told WRALthat same day, referring to an omnibus voting bill that would do more than just require voter ID; it would reduce early voting, eliminate Sunday voting and ban same-day registration. Go they did, pushing House Bill 589 through both chambers and on to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk for signature in just weeks and prompting voting rights advocates and even the Attorney General to warn that, by signing the bill into law, the governor would be casting the state into a protracted and costly battle in the courts. And those groups wasted no time, after the governor signed H589 into law on Monday, hauling McCrory and the state into court, filing three separate lawsuits challenging the law.

Editorials: McCrory offers shallow rhetoric to justify North Carolina Voter ID law | Charlotte News Observer

Even as Gov. Pat McCrory put pen to paper Monday, specifically the pen that signed the Voter ID bill into law, two lawsuits were on the way in federal court, a third was being readied for state court, and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District was asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to use his authority to ensure voting rights in this state. McCrory mouthed the rationalizations of Republican ideologues in the legislature who have been giving the governor his marching orders for six months. The governor said the new law would prevent voter fraud. He didn’t bother to mention that voter fraud is about as big a threat in North Carolina as an invasion of dinosaurs (excepting the Republicans on Jones Street). And he of course didn’t linger on the other parts of the legislation clearly designed to give Republicans an advantage in future elections, blatantly political maneuvers: no more straight-ticket voting, which is favored by more Democrats than Republicans; no more same-day registration and voting, again something shown to be used more by Democrats; early voting periods will be shorter, and early voting also tends to draw more Democrats; no more pre-registration for students younger than 18, as the young tend to lean Democratic.

Editorials: Fair elections and double standards | Cincinnati Enquirer

The decision not to prosecute Hamilton County voters who had registered using addresses that weren’t their residences seems on its face like a reasonable one. But in light of the recent five-year sentence handed down to a poll worker convicted of voter fraud, it’s imperative that officials strive to treat all cases of voter impropriety with the same standards. The 85 voters who registered using ineligible addresses may or may not have known that doing so is a felony. They include more than a dozen police officers who registered using the police stations where they work, apparently in an attempt to keep their home addresses from becoming public knowledge.

Editorials: German Election Could Still Surprise | Wall Street Journal

Don’t consider German elections a done deal just yet. Judging from past experience, there is still room for a shock as polls in Germany have often underestimated the end-results of small parties. “There is big surprise potential,” says BHF Bank in a note to clients, because the anti-euro party Alternative for Germany, or AfD, gets little attention from outside Germany. In a poll conducted by Forsa institute and published Wednesday, 3% of participants said they would vote for the AfD in September 22 elections. The result is well below the 5% threshold needed for parties to enter parliament in Germany. AfD’s results in previous surveys have been similar. However, at election betting platform Prognosys, the AfD is mustering a healthy 6%, BHF points out. Prognosys lets betters place odds on the outcome of the vote.

Editorials: North Carolina’s Attack on Voting Rights | The Daily Beast

For the first time since her 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has stepped into the partisan politics of the moment. Speaking to the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco yesterday, the former secretary of state slammed a “sweeping effort to construct new obstacles to voting, often under cover of addressing a phantom epidemic of ‘election fraud.’” What’s more, she argued, we must fix the “hole opened up” by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder which gutted a core provision of the Voting Rights Act. Otherwise, she warned, “[C]itizens will be disenfranchised, victimized by the law instead of served by it and that progress, that historical progress toward a more perfect union, will go backwards instead of forwards.” That Clinton gave a speech on voting rights was fortuitous, since yesterday was also when North Carolina Republicans passed a sweeping set of changes to the state’s election law. These measures were proposed just one week after the Court’s ruling, and were rushed through the state legislature. GOP Governor Pat McCrory calls them “common sense” measures, designed to “ensure the integrity” of the ballot box and “provide greater equality in access to voting to North Carolinians.” And that’s true, if you rob those words of their actual meaning.

Editorials: McCrory signs “popular” Voter ID, elections reform bill | Greensboro News & Record

Rare is the bill that is so popular the governor feels the need to note its popularity in a lengthy press release, after he signing it without a public ceremony. But that’s the case today: Gov. Pat McCrory has signed House Bill 589. From the release, headlined “Governor McCrory Signs Popular Voter ID into Law”:

“North Carolinians overwhelmingly support a common sense law that requires voters to present photo identification in order to cast a ballot. I am proud to sign this legislation into law. Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote,” said Governor McCrory.

Side note: You ever notice how voter ID proponents trot this Sudafed argument out all the time, but if you suggest that by the same logic the state should create an electronic database of gun purchases  – like we have for Sudafed – you’re just an unAmerican nut who wants the government to go door-to-door taking people’s guns?

Editorials: What North Carolina’s New Voter ID Law Does for the GOP | The Atlantic

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law the toughest voter ID rules in the country on Monday, and shrunk the number of days allowed for early voting. McCrory says the new law is “common-sense.” But the numbers show the law will have, as Reid Wilson explained for National Journal, “undeniable political ramifications.” Democrats tend to vote early. Republicans tend to vote absentee. The law makes big changes to in-person voting while leaving rules for absentee ballots mostly the same. The North Carolina NAACP and the ACLU have each filed lawsuits challenging the law as racially discriminatory under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The ACLU wrote in a statement Monday, “the suit specifically targets provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit ‘out-of-precinct’ voting.” A third suit is expected to be filed Tuesday morning, also by the ACLU, challenging the voter ID portion of the law. According to The Nation, the plaintiffs in this third suit will be “college students who will not be able to vote in North Carolina because they have out of state driver’s licenses and their student IDs will not be accepted, and elderly residents of the state who were not born in North Carolina and will have to pay to get a birth certificate to validate their identity.”

Editorials: Texas Asks Court To Nuke The Voting Rights Act — Forever | ThinkProgress

When the Supreme Court dismantled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last June, there were two small silver linings in this decision. The first was the possibility that Congress could revive the regime killed by the Court, where states with particularly poor records of racialized voter suppression must “preclear” their voting practices with the Justice Department or a federal court before those practices can take effect. The second potential silver lining is Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, which allows a state to be brought back under the preclearance requirement if a court finds that it engaged in “violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment justifying equitable relief.” Now, however, Texas wants to destroy these two silver linings as well. And there is a fair chance that the conservative Supreme Court will allow them to do so.

Editorials: What have Wisconsinites done to deserve voter suppression? | GazetteXtra

The U.S. Supreme Court in June gutted key components of the Voting Rights Act, which became law on Aug. 6, 1965. Before the ink was dry on the high court’s ruling, several states announced they will implement restrictive laws that have been on hold or introduce new voting restrictions. Wisconsin was not covered by the voting act’s “preclearance” requirements, which now cannot be enforced until Congress acts to update the law. However, we have had our share of unneeded and unfair voting laws proposed and, in some cases, enacted in the past couple of years. For example, a new proposal from Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, would severely limit the hours when municipal clerks may offer in-person absentee voting for their constituents to no more than 24 hours a week, during business hours, for a two-week period prior to an election. This would reduce the opportunities for voters across the state who have daytime jobs or family commitments.

Editorials: Arizona leading bad national trend to restrict voting rights. | Baja Arizona Eagle

Media outlets recently dubbed North Carolina’s sweeping new voter restriction legislation the “worst in the nation.” But Arizona’s new roadblocks to get tough on voters — House Bill 2305 — is in many ways worse than North Carolina because it was approved on top of some of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws already in place, said Julie Erfle, Chairwoman of the Protect Your Right To Vote Arizona Committee. Erfle is leading a broad and diverse coalition working together to overturn HB2305 through a voter referendum. HB 2305 helps career politicians rig the system by preventing tens of thousands of eligible voters from casting their ballots. The bill will kick people off the early voter rolls and make it a felony for volunteer groups to help elderly, homebound and economically disadvantaged voters get their early voting ballots to the polls. It also helps politicians hold onto power by keeping third parties off the ballot and making it extremely difficult for Arizonans to overturn the Legislature’s decisions through citizen initiatives.

Editorials: Elections in Germany: A Non-Event for Europe | Sharnoff’s Global Views

Angela Merkel, arguably the most powerful politician in the EU stands for re-election for a third term on September 22. She hopes to continue the current coalition of her conservative Christian Democrat Union (CDU) with the pro-business liberal democrats (FDP). Competing with her is Peer Steinbrück of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), who was also finance minister in Merkel’s government. His preferred coalition partner are the Greens. “Angie,” as Merkel is affectionately known, is hugely popular, but her party less so. Opinion polls now see a neck-and-neck race between Merkel’s coalition and the combined opposition, with recent momentum in favor of the Chancellor. The most likely election day scenarios are (1) the continuation of the current government (we think 50% chance), (2) a grand coalition of the CDU and the SPD with Merkel as Chancellor, as in 2005-2009 (30%) and (3) the scare scenario of SPD and Greens teaming up with the former communist Left Party (10%. The remaining 10% probability we attach collectively to various other coalition scenarios involving the mainstream parties).

Editorials: The Voting Rights Act Is in Peril on Its Forty-Eighth Anniversary | Ari Berman/The Nation

“Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield,” President Lyndon Johnson said on August 6, 1965, when he signed the Voting Rights Act into law. The VRA quickly became known as the most important piece of modern civil rights legislation and one of the most consequential laws ever passed by Congress. It led to the abolition of literacy tests and poll taxes; made possible the registration of millions of minority voters; forced states with a history of voting discrimination to clear electoral changes with the federal government to prevent future discrimination; and laid the foundation for generations of minority elected officials.

Editorials: Make voting easy, efficient and fair | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In his State of the Union address in February, President Barack Obama introduced Desiline Victor, who, at 102 years old, had waited in line three hours to vote in North Miami, Fla. The president lauded Ms. Victor’s commitment to democracy, but he left out a key fact about her hardship: Compared to some voters, she hadn’t stood in line all that long. In 2008, for example, students at Ohio’s Kenyon College waited as long as 10 hours to vote, with some casting ballots at 4 a.m. The 2000 election meltdown in Florida pulled the curtain back on our dysfunctional system of voting, offering a primer on just about everything wrong with American elections, from burdensome voter registration to faulty vote tabulation. The crisis inspired repeated efforts at reform. A few, such as the Help America Vote Act of 2002 — which, among other things, provided funds for better voting machines — even made a modest difference. Yet three presidential elections after the 2000 fiasco, the basic mechanics of our democracy remain deeply flawed. One reason so little has changed, clearly, is that plenty of powerful people prefer a system that makes it hard to vote. But there have been some real reforms in the states, many won with bipartisan support, and there is room for well-crafted compromises. Improving elections may not be easy, but it is possible.

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Editorials: Tarring democracy in North Carolina | The Virginian-Pilot

It will be harder to cast a ballot in North Carolina now, thanks to a catch-all set of anti-voter legislation that – as it did in other states – addresses a problem that doesn’t appear to actually exist. North Carolina’s Republican-controlled government has eliminated same-day voter registration; reduced early voting; abolished a program to help high school students register; given party poll-watchers more authority to challenge voters; weakened disclosure for “independent expenditure” committees; ended out-of-precinct voting; made it more difficult to open satellite polling places, say at a nursing home; banned an option for straight-ticket voting; and – of course – approved a new photo-ID requirement. Gov. Pat McCrory said he’ll sign the legislation, despite not having seen at least one of its provisions – and apparently not even understanding the current system.

Editorials: The voting rights disaster | Los Angeles Times

It has been less than six weeks since the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark law that for five decades has protected this country’s most basic democratic right. But it is already clear that the decision was a disaster. Freed of the obligation to seek federal approval before making changes in their election practices, some states have moved to introduce or restore policies that will make it harder for racial minorities to vote or will dilute their political influence. Meanwhile, as any student of contemporary politics could have predicted, a divided Congress shows no sign of moving quickly to adopt a new formula for federal “pre-clearance” of state election changes that would meet the Supreme Court’s requirements. Although the Voting Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination in voting nationwide, only some states, mostly in the South, had been required to obtain advance approval from the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal judge before they changed their election practices. The problem with that, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, was that the formula for deciding which states had to “pre-clear” changes was rooted in data from the 1960s and ’70s and didn’t reflect “current conditions,” notably dramatic increases in minority turnout in Southern states.

Editorials: The Republican Push to Make it Harder to Vote | Linda Killian/The Atlantic

Within 20 minutes of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning a portion of the Voting Rights Act, the attorney general of Texas tweeted a message signaling that strict voter-ID laws would go into effect there immediately. “I’ll fight Obama’s effort to control our elections,” Greg Abbott, who just announced he’s running for governor of Texas, tweeted June 25, the day the 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder was released. Unless the law can be successfully challenged in court, Texas residents will now have to show a state- or federal-issued form of photo identification to vote. The list of acceptable forms includes a concealed-handgun license but not a state university student ID. The omission suggests it is not voter fraud but voters unfriendly to the GOP that Abbott and other Texas Republicans are trying to thwart. Other states — like Mississippi and Arkansas – that have GOP-controlled legislatures and a history of racial discrimination, and whose election laws have been supervised by the Department of Justice since the VRA’s passage in 1965, have also wasted no time moving forward with new voting restrictions in the wake of the Shelby County decision.

Editorials: Citizens United poised to destroy judicial impartiality | James Nelson/The Missoulian

Sen. Jon Tester recently introduced a proposed federal constitutional amendment that would end corporate personhood rights, overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The utility of such an amendment may be debated, since Citizens United was based on First Amendment free speech law, not referring to corporate personhood as a basis for the decision. Citizens United ushered in the unprecedented use of dark, institutional mega-money to influence elections and, effectively, silence voices of individual small contributors and ordinary voters. The Supreme Court’s approach and subsequent court cases have chipped away at contribution limits by individuals, corporations, unions, special interests groups, “non profits” and trade associations. This has resulted in millions of dollars pouring into elections with little or no disclosure of the source of funding and with little, if any, accountability for truth and accuracy of their messages. Candidates are being “marketed” to voters in the same fashion that fast food and frozen vegetables are hawked to consumers.