Editorials: Five ways to make long elections lines shorter | Washington Post

“I want to thank every American who participated in this election,” President Obama said in his acceptance speech Tuesday, “whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.” At the mention of long waits, Obama paused. “By the way, we have to fix that.” Election Day saw news story after news story about interminable lines at polling stations. In some areas, people waited for two hours, three hours, or more. To many observers, it seemed ludicrous that a country as advanced and as wealthy as the United States can’t figure out how to hold a decent election. So what was the problem? Why do long lines persist? And is there anything Obama and Congress can do to make our voting system more efficient? I put this question to a couple of experts, and got back five broad suggestions for ways that both the states and even the federal government could improve our voting infrastructure and reduce long waits.

Editorials: New Jersey’s Vote-by-Email Meltdown | The Atlantic

When New Jersey announced over the weekend that it would allow voters displaced by the storm to vote by email or fax, many people were concerned about the possibility of hacking or other vote-tampering. “E-mail voting is insecure because it’s hard to authenticate the voter, the ballots can be intercepted and changed, and the computer servers that store them can be hacked,” Bloomberg reported. Additionally, the plan had provoked confusion among voters, as at first the state said no paper ballot was necessary, and later reneged, saying a mailed-in paper confirmation was also required.

Editorials: Hard to follow the money | Ruth Marcus/The Washington Post

Specialty Group Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., has a peculiar specialty: political anonymity. The company filed for incorporation in late September. Within a few weeks, it had donated nearly $5.3 million to FreedomWorks for America, a conservative super PAC allied with former House majority leader Dick Armey. What is Specialty Group? Where does its money come from? From the public record, it’s impossible to tell. The Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics reported that the company’s registered agent is a Knoxville man, William S. Rose Jr.After news reports about the donation, Rose issued a statement describing Specialty as his investment firm, detailing his gripes with President Obama and assailing “prying media who seem hellbent on asking a private citizen about private facts.” He declined to answer questions about the source of the funds and described Specialty’s business as “my family secret.” And here is the most disturbing thing about the Specialty contributions: By the degraded standards of the 2012 campaign, they are a model of transparency.

Editorials: Ohio’s Crucial Election Court Fights | The New Republic

It’s a crisp, clear, and cold day in Ohio, a state that everyone believes to be critical. On the ground floor of the Ohio State University building I’m in right now, there’s a long line of students waiting to cast their votes, some for over an hour we’re told. It will be a long day for them, and it could be a long night for all of us if it’s close. Well before the first ballots were cast, the candidates and their allies were in court fighting over the rules. In Ohio, there were two especially important court orders issued in the weeks before Election Day.

Editorials: What could go wrong on Election Day? | The Detroit News

“A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.” This was Ben Franklin’s description of the fragile product of the new United States Constitution, in answer to a Mrs. Powel, as he left the convention hall on Sept. 17, 1787. He could as well have been describing the country on Nov. 6, 2012. We share Ben’s anxiety as members of a growing number of worried computer scientists, analysts and election administrators who fear what will happen on Election Day. We worry that the nation will end up with no confidence in the election results, regardless of who wins.

Editorials: Election 2012: First the voting, then counting, then challenges | Washington Times

For those who can’t wait until the 2012 presidential election is finally over on Wednesday: not so fast. Unless one candidate wins a clear and decisive victory — an increasingly unlikely scenario, given the tightness of the polls — some political analysts predict that the final outcome could be delayed by a bevy of lawsuits, challenges and recounts. “You can bet this year is going to be marked by a ridiculous carnival of grievances,” Virginia-based GOP consultant Mike McKenna said. “I can just feel this one coming from 100 miles away. You’ve got a close election, lousy polling, lots of lawyers — it’s just not a good recipe.”

Editorials: Alabama, Texas voting rights cases keep political storms churning | Fort Worth Star Telegram

It might seem a stretch for Texas’ top elected officials to be intensely interested in such minutiae as the planning commission’s jurisdiction and voting boundaries in Shelby County, population almost 200,000, in the middle of Alabama. But a lawsuit that Shelby County has taken to the U.S. Supreme Court could determine Texas’ flexibility under the federal Voting Rights Act. And Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is aggressively cheering on Shelby County’s claim that a key part of the 1965 law is an unconstitutional imposition on states’ sovereignty.

Editorials: Could Sandy blow away the election? Don’t hold your breath | Reuters

Deadly Superstorm Sandy left millions of Americans snowed in, flooded out or stranded without power – and the federal government itself in Washington closed – just a week before voters across the country head to the polls. But if anyone is wondering whether Election Day will be put off, the answer is almost certainly no. Local U.S. elections have been postponed before – in one relatively recent example, New York put off voting that had been set for Sept. 11, 2001, because of the attacks on the country that day. But presidential balloting has always gone on, even during the Civil War in 1864 (President Abraham Lincoln was re-elected). Federal law mandates that the national vote must take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four years.

Editorials: Election Day registration: The anti-voter ID | Salon.com

“Voter ID” has become the GOP’s weapon of choice in the fight to keep Democrats from voting, but progressives may have found an answer: Election Day registration. Virtually unknown two years ago, voter ID laws, which require citizens to present a certain form of government-issued photo identification at the polls, came into vogue when Republicans used their electoral gains in 2010 to pass them in states from Texas to Wisconsin to South Carolina. Approximately one in 10 potential voters in these states lack photo ID, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, without which they will not be able to cast a ballot in November. Studies have found that minorities, college students and poor voters — groups that tend to vote Democratic — will be disproportionately impacted by these new laws.

Editorials: National Popular Vote: The Recount Bugaboo | Hendrik Hertzberg/The New Yorker

I was on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” yesterday doing my Ancient Mariner harangue in favor of the National Popular Vote, along with Yale’s Akhil Reed Amar, one of the intellectual fathers of that ingenious plan, which would allow us to elect our Presidents the same way we elect governors and senators and everybody else, i.e., the candidate with the most votes wins—and would do it without messing with the Constitution. You can watch the relevant three segments. (One follows another, with unavoidable commercials.) Akhil and I managed to squeeze in most of our arguments, but right at the end Chris brought up a question we didn’t have time to fully answer: What about recounts? What if Florida 2000 were reproduced on a national scale?

Editorials: A New Right to Vote? Voter Suppression and the Judicial Backlash | The New Yorker

Is there a clear constitutional right to vote in the United States? The answer, traditionally, has been no. That’s what Republican-dominated states were banking on when they moved, after the 2010 elections, to restrict the franchise. But their campaign has seen a legal backlash against those efforts—one that may end up establishing that there is a right to vote in the U.S. after all. Many people are surprised that the Constitution contains no affirmative statement of a right to vote. Several amendments phrase the right in a negative way: the right to vote shall not be denied “on account of race” (fifteenth amendment), “on account of sex” (nineteenth), or, as long as you’re eighteen, “on account of age” (twenty-sixth, which lowered the voting age from twenty-one). But within those broad strictures, the Constitution has long been read as leaving up to the states how to register voters, conduct elections, and count the votes.

Editorials: Will Obama win Ohio thanks to Bush v. Gore? | Slate Magazine

ne part of the story of the 2012 voting wars is well known: Republican legislatures have passed a series of laws making it at least modestly harder for people to vote. These GOP-inspired rules have included limits on early voting, stricter rules for voter registration, and new voter ID laws to stamp out unproven allegations of voter fraud. Less well-known is that courts have reined in some of these excesses, including a decision to block Texas’s stringent voter ID law, an injunction putting Pennsylvania’s voter ID law on hold for this election, and a settlement  blocking the worst of Florida’s voter registration hurdles. The judicial record has been decidedly mixed. The Pennsylvania law will likely be approved by the 2014 elections, courts have allowed Republican secretaries of state to pursue purges of noncitizens from voting rolls despite ample evidence that the lists erroneously included many eligible voters, and federal courts recently refused to roll back Texas’ tough new voter registration rules.

Editorials: Could Romney-Linked Electronic Voting Machines Jeopardize Ohio’s Vote Accuracy? | Keith Thomson/Huffington Post

In 2006, a group of computer hackers reprogrammed a Dutch electronic voting machine to play chess. The Dutch government subsequently imposed a moratorium on the use of electronic voting machines. In 2009, German Federal Constitutional Court ruled the country’s electronic voting systems unreliable to the point that their use was deemed unconstitutional. In June, Ireland paid a metal recycling company €70,267 to dismantle and recycle the country’s €55 million worth of electronic voting machines. In the United States, 35% of this year’s general election votes will be cast on electronic voting machines that, “in terms of effort required to compromise the systems, are in the same ballpark as the Irish voting machines,” according to Dan Wallach, a professor in Rice University’s Department of Computer Science and a computer systems security specialist. “The current voting machines were designed with insufficient attention to computer security.”

Editorials: Mixed message on Pennsylvania voter ID | Philadelphia Enquirer

With all the spin, false claims, and counter-claims, elections are confusing enough. But the on-again, off-again Pennsylvania voter-ID law and the way the state has dealt with it are worse. So much confusion has been created that many voters may not show up at the polls. This is the outrageous result of bad, partisan-stained legislation bullied through the legislature so fast the Corbett administration had little time to even think about how to implement it. For the record: Voters do not need a state-sanctioned photo ID to vote in this election.

Editorials: Resolving an Election In Extra Innings | Steven F. Huefner/Election Law@Moritz

As the prospects of a close Presidential election this fall show no signs of abating, it is worth reflecting on what might – and should – happen after Election Day in the event of an election that is too-close-to-call. My colleague Ned Foley has already addressed one aspect of this “what if” scenario, namely, the possibility that a swing state like Ohio, because it has a large number of provisional ballots or late-arriving absentee ballots, may not be able to declare a winner until some ten days after Election Day. But beyond that reality of the regular election processes, what if alleged errors or mistakes in the casting or counting of ballots lead to an election contest over the outcome in a particular state? How well prepared are states to handle post-election litigation on a very compressed timetable, and under the glare of the national spotlight?

Editorials: Why have an electoral college? | latimes.com

The electoral college is one of the most controversial and ridiculed parts of the Constitution. It is not just for the obvious reasons — the “wrong winner” elections of 1876, 1888 and 2000. The college has also focused the nation’s attention on a few swing states, allowing candidates to ignore a large percentage of the voters in their campaign. Today, the three largest states get little attention, except as ATMs for campaign fundraising.

Editorials: The Fraud of Voter Fraud | The Atlantic

Jane Mayer’s article on the invention of the voter-fraud myth is required reading as we go into the last day’s of the election. Mayer zeroes in on Hans von Spakovsky, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has been instrumental in turning gossamer, rumor and myth into state-level election law: Von Spakovsky offered me the names of two experts who, he said, would confirm that voter-impersonation fraud posed a significant peril: Robert Pastor, the director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, at American University, and Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. Pastor, von Spakovsky noted, had spoken to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about being a victim of election fraud: voting in Georgia, he discovered that someone else had already voted under his name. When I reached Pastor, he clarified what had happened to him. “I think they just mistakenly checked my name when my son voted — it was just a mistake.”

Editorials: Voter ID: With no evidence of either a current problem or a credible solution, it’s a waste of money | MinnPost

Recently, former Sen. Norm Coleman wrote a piece for the Star Tribune supporting the Voter ID amendment in Minnesota.  In his opinion, he wrote:

Is there voter fraud in Minnesota?  Yes.  Is it rampant and out of control?  Not yet.  Can the level of fraud, no matter how small, affect the outcome of elections in our state and elsewhere in the nation?  Absolutely.

I agree with his premise. Is voter fraud a good thing? No. Is it something we should strive to prevent? Of course. However, what he, and it seems many other conservatives have forgotten is that nothing is free. Everything, including this amendment, has a cost associated with it. Yet, for some reason, this aspect of the voter amendment has completely eluded those who purport to keep government spending in check. This amendment was passed by the Minnesota House and Senate by many politicians who ran on a platform of cutting wasteful government programs. Yet, if this amendment passes, Minnesotans will have to pay for a program that essentially provides no benefit. Is this not wasteful?

Editorials: Is True the Vote Shaking Down States With Nuisance Lawsuits? | The Nation

Less than a month before Election Day, the “election integrity” group True The Vote is battered, bewildered and disappointed. The upcoming election landscape will hardly resemble the “ground war” they were hoping for. Voter fraud as a thing has been exposed by civil rights watchdogs and a wide range of journalists as pure conspiracy theory. And civil rights legal advocates have at least temporarily blocked all of the most strict voter ID laws for which they fought so hard. But while True the Vote is down, they’re certainly not out. The group still hopes to make an impact in November, though they’ve downgraded their self-descriptors from “armies” prepared for “ground wars” to “grannies with clipboards.” Besides their cheering for billboards warning that voter fraud is a felony targeted in poor, black neighborhoods in Ohio, their last operative hope is to shake down states, including Ohio, that don’t comply with their purging demands with frivolous lawsuits.

Editorials: Voter ID laws disenfranchise millions | Indiana Statesman

Across the country, there has been a concerted effort by primarily Republican politicians to enforce what’s known as “Voter ID laws.” These ID laws would essentially make voting more difficult than purchasing ammunition for a firearm.  The laws call for specific state issued ID’s that millions of Americans do not have. Also, there would be restrictions on who can and cannot vote early.  Essentially, the voter ID laws disenfranchise millions of Americans by making it highly inconvenient or next to impossible to vote. However, now that we are mere breaths away from the presidential election, courts across the country are striking down the ID laws and any attempts to restrict the early voting process. The most recent case occurred on Tuesday, when the federal Supreme Court allowed early voting to take place in the crucially important swing state of Ohio. Republican leaders proposed that early voting should only be allowed for military members and their families to vote in person during the last three days before Nov. 6th. A federal appeals court  concluded that if county election polls were going to be open for early voting, the polls had to be open for all voters and thus placed a hold on the early voting restriction.

Editorials: Can Employers Tell Their Workers How to Vote? | CNBC

A flurry of emails from CEOs telling workers how to vote in November has raised a troubling question: Can a company legally tell workers how to vote? For the most part, the answer is yes. Election regulators and corporate lawyers say no federal election law specifically prevents employers from telling workers they could lose their jobs if they vote for a certain candidate. The issue has come into public view after Westgate CEO David Siegel sent an email to his 7,000 workers saying that if President Obama is elected “I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.” (Read more: CEO to Workers: You’ll Likely Be Fired If Obama Wins) The news was followed with a missive from the Koch brothers to their 45,000 workers at Georgia Pacific that they could “suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills” if they voted for candidates not supported by Koch-owned companies or its political fund-raising arm. According to In These Times, the “approved” list of candidates started with Mitt Romney and didn’t include any Democrats.

Editorials: Did Republicans Just Save The Voting Rights Act? | Andrew Cohen/The Atlantic

One year ago, maybe even six months ago, conventional wisdom had it that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act was in jeopardy, susceptible to another aggressive ruling by a very conservative United States Supreme Court. The five Republican-appointed justices would rule, the theory went, that there was no longer a need for local lawmakers to “pre-clear” voting laws or gerrymanders with federal officials, because Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act had been so successful since its implementation that it was no longer necessary to protect minority rights. Justice Clarence Thomas, a black man who grew up in Georgia, one of the states “covered” by the Voting Rights Act because of its long history of racial discrimination, said so himself just a few years ago. In Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder. a 2009 decision in which the Court uneasily upheld the Voting Rights Act, Justice Thomas declared, as the lone dissenter, that: “The extensive pattern of discrimination that led the Court to previously uphold §5 as enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment no longer exists. Covered jurisdictions are not now engaged in a systematic campaign to deny black citizens access to the ballot through intimidation and violence. And the days of “grandfather clauses, property qualifications, ‘good character’ tests, and the requirement that registrants ‘understand’ or ‘interpret’ certain matter,” are gone. There is thus currently no concerted effort in these jurisdictions to engage in the “unremitting and ingenious defiance of the Constitution,” that served as the constitutional basis for upholding the “uncommon exercise of congressional power” embodied in §5.”

Editorials: In November Elections, Cast Your Vote For…Evil? | Forbes

Boring and evil.  That’s the November election in a nutshell. The latest edition of Vanity Fair is surely revealing on this end.  They come down on the boring side of things.  In his signature front-of-the mag editor’s letter, VF’s editor Graydon Carter says President Barack Obama “has fallen short on selling himself and his achievements.”  It seems safe to say that Democrats “aren’t all that excited by Obama,” Carter writes.  In the liberal Hollywood world Vanity Fair inhabits, the red carpet left is — oh, let’s just say — ehh, about Obama. According to a round-up of major polls on Real Clear Politics, Obama is running neck and neck with ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt “RomneyCare” Romney, in an election that is going to be decided by three states.  Maybe two.  It’s back to red state versus blue state.  And while this should be a redo of Clinton versus Dole, Obama is struggling in the polls.

Editorials: Republican again nixes satellite voting sites in Marion County | The Desert Sun

For the fifth time in nearly three years, the Republican appointee on the Marion County Election Board used his veto power Friday to stop a plan to open satellite early voting sites. Early in-person balloting at the City-County Building has spiked 24 percent compared to the 2008 presidential election. Clerk Beth White, a Democrat, said the steady lines — sure to build in coming weeks — justified offering Northside and Southside sites later this month. First, Republican Patrick J. Dietrick applauded the efforts of White and her staff to handle the crowds. Then he voted no. “Satellite voting, conceptually, in our situation, is a solution in search of a problem,” Dietrick said after Friday’s meeting.

Editorials: What’s the Truth about True the Vote? | prospect.org

Two years ago, the week before Election Day, I drove to Harris County, Texas. More specifically, I drove to the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, a polling location for early voting in one of Houston’s poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. After alleging that Harris County had a widespread problem with voter fraud, a Tea Party group called the King Street Patriots had launched a project called True the Vote, which had trained hundreds of volunteer poll watchers. As the early-voting period began, reports had begun to trickle out about white poll watchers arriving at minority precincts and intimidating voters. In Texas, poll watchers, appointed by a political party to watch the proceedings, aren’t allowed to do much; they’re barred from communicating with voters. But these poll watchers, foreign to the neighborhoods they were working in, were apparently not all observing the rules.

Editorials: Queens Voters Forced to Trek a Mile After Polling-Place Swap | DNAinfo.com

On Tuesday, 59-year-old Ditmars resident Wendy Rodriguez crossed the street with the help of a crossing guard outside of P.S. 2 on 21st Avenue. The two began chatting, and the guard asked Rodriguez, a school administrator, if she had received a letter earlier this year from the Board of Elections, explaining that the polling site at the school would be closed for November’s election. The crossing guard explained that voting would now be done about a mile away, at P.S. 84, on 41st Street near 23rd Avenue. “That’s ridiculous,” said Rodriguez, who lives in the neighborhood. “You know what’s going to happen? People aren’t going to vote.” Rodriguez’s situation has become a familiar one. With redistricting after the 2010 census, concerns have risen across the city that new districts formed earlier this year would cause mass confusion on Election Day in November.

Editorials: Voter Fraud: The GOP Witch Hunt | Huffington Post

Recently, two large frauds within the Republican voter suppression effort this year have surfaced, which are proving far more serious than any of the alleged shenanigans which have been used to justify these measures. To cover the entirety of the vigorous voter suppression effort on the Right would require a far longer article than this, however, I will be focusing in on two very ugly details: Strategic Allied Consulting and voter suppression vigilantes like True the Vote. Republicans have ended the voter drives in Nevada, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina. Why would they do such a thing? Because the firm they hired, Strategic Allied Consulting, the only company the Republican Party had running registration campaigns in these states, has been rocked by scandal after scandal. This election year, voter suppression law after voter suppression law rolled out, many of which have been struck down as unconstitutional by the courts, all to catch fraud; so far the only fraud that has been proven has been on their side.

Editorials: Voter ID Laws Live On | Huffington Post

Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist began his political career intimidating blacks and Hispanics waiting in line to vote in his home state of Arizona. It was 1964 and Rehnquist, a practicing lawyer at the time, demanded to see identification and conversed with Hispanics to determine if they spoke sufficient English to vote. He was working as part of “Operation Eagle Eye,” a Republican plan to suppress the vote. In 2012, nearly half a century later, the Kochs and Karl Rove have fueled legislation to require stringent voter identification in states they helped pack with Republican lawmakers and governors in the 2010 Republican sweep. They turned that sweep into a below-the-national-radar campaign to suppress voter turnout in this election cycle, including in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. Like cheap paper targets at a carnival shooting gallery, the courts have at least temporarily shot down almost every onerous voter ID law that has passed in the last two years to protect Americans from “voter fraud” that doesn’t appear to exist.

Editorials: Will Republicans accept if Barack Obama defeats Mitt Romney? | Slate Magazine

What if President Obama wins re-election and Republicans don’t believe it? The question isn’t far-fetched. For several weeks, we have seen Republicans challenge the veracity of a number of election-related facts, and the outcome of the presidential election may be no different. First, some Republicans claimed that public opinion polls were all skewed to show an Obama lead. As Slate reported, 71 percent of self-identified Republicans and 84 percent of Tea Partiers believe in the skew. Republicans confidently claim that the polls are oversampling Democrats, not realizing that these are self-reported party identifications, which rise and fall with candidates’ support. Distrust of the polls is not a new phenomenon, and it is not confined to Republicans. As Nate Silver pointed out, when Democrats were behind in 2004 they believed the polls were skewed toward Republicans. Fortunately, the Romney debate performance last week apparently was enough to “unskew” the latest numbers.

Editorials: Ohio’s Secretary of State Subverts Voting Rights | The Nation

Once again, political experts are predicting that the 2012 presidential election could be decided in the battleground state of Ohio, like it was in 2004. Remember what happened that year? George W. Bush won the state by a narrow 118,000 votes in an election marred by widespread electoral dysfunction. “The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters,” found a post-election report by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee. According to one survey, 174,000 Ohioans, 3 percent of the electorate, left their polling place without voting because of massive lines in urban precincts and on college campuses. Ohio’s Secretary of State that year was Ken Blackwell, co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.