Editorial: With democracy under duress, a few — but too few — Republicans speak up | Scot Lehigh/The Boston Globe

For those who dwell in the rational world, one of the most disconcerting aspects of our current era is the extraordinary purchase falsity has gained in our nation’s politics. It’s not merely a foothold that has been secured, but a stronghold. The entire Republican Party, almost, if one counts not just those who propagate patently dishonest claims, but also those who enable those lies through their silence. I’m speaking here, obviously, about the enormous and corrosive falsehood that Donald Trump had a presidential election victory stolen from him last year. That’s evidence-free absurdity on stilts, which is why scores of Big Lie lawsuits failed in courts across the country. It’s why recounts and audits — including even the clownish Cyber Ninjas effort in Maricopa County, Ariz. — have confirmed Joe Biden’s victory. It’s why Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s reckless lawyer, was recently forced into the sheepish acknowledgment that he had culled some of his lurid voter fraud claims from social media posts (!) and sometimes hadn’t even made a cursory effort to investigate those allegations before spewing them out. Yet in the face of all that, the vast majority of congressional Republicans remain mute about the Big Lie, refusing either to reject it forcefully or to rebuke Trump for its telling. Discounting the occasional congressional kook, most obviously know better. Some stay silent to avoid Trump’s wrath. Others don’t have the fortitude to challenge a myth believed by 68 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of the Fox-washed faithful. Others are amoral accommodationists who believe the Republican Party’s best path back to party power is to keep Trump and his supporters on the GOP side of the political jungle.

Full Article: With democracy under duress, a few — but too few — Republicans speak up – The Boston Globe

Editorial: We must protect our elections now. National security is at stake. | James R. Clapper and Michael Hayden/The Washington Post

By now, it is well documented that in 2020 a sitting president and his allies tried to overturn the results of an election, triggering the worst political violence this country has seen in living memory. It is also clear that this attempt to undermine our democracy did not end with the transition to a new president, but continues with active efforts to make sure the next sabotage succeeds where the last one failed. What is less widely understood — and what keeps us up at night — is how great a threat these activities pose to our national security. This looming crisis is why we, along with nearly 100 other former national security and military officials, issued a statement urging Congress to prioritize protecting election integrity. We both served at the highest levels of our country’s intelligence community, under Republican and Democratic presidents alike, and we know that our foreign adversaries and other bad actors are licking their chops as they watch efforts to destabilize our elections. At the heart of the attack is a homegrown disinformation campaign meant to sow doubt in the U.S. voting system. Unfortunately, it is working — poll after poll shows declining trust in our elections and declining belief in the concept of democracy, particularly among Republicans. And these effects will not be contained to our borders. We have personally seen the lengths to which our foreign adversaries will go to take advantage of any cracks in the foundation of our democracy. One of us was director of national intelligence during the period leading up to the 2016 presidential vote and saw firsthand how Russia used social media to exploit disinformation, polarization and divisiveness. The Russians’ objective was to breed discord, and they succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. Now others have gone to school on the Russian example and will seek to prey on our country’s state of affairs in just the same way.

Full Article: Opinion | James Clapper and Michael Hayden: We must protect our elections now. National security is at stake. – The Washington Post

Editorial: John Eastman’s legal theory created for Trump is still alive. The Jan. 6 committee should kill it. | Greg Sargent/The Washington Post

As the Jan. 6 select committee kicks into high gear, one big thing it will examine is the role played by Mike Pence in the final days of Donald Trump’s effort to overturn his presidential reelection loss and remain in power illegitimately. As vice president, Pence ultimately rebuffed Trump’s pressure on him to halt the congressional count of electors and declare Trump winner. Whether he did so after seriously entertaining this scheme, and what other bad actors pressured him to execute it, are things we need to learn about. But we also need to do something else: We must kill off the dangerous legal theory that Trump and his co-conspirators hatched to justify that scheme, so it never rises again. Some new reporting on Pence’s role, combined with a new analysis of that legal theory, should give us the hook for this. It’s important, because there are new signs this legal theory remains alive, though in staggering zombie form. The theory is the one in the now-notorious Trump coup memo. Lawyer John Eastman outlined a scheme for Pence to ignore federal law and refuse to count President-elect Joe Biden’s electors, making Trump winner. Eastman discussed the theory with Trump and Pence a couple days before Jan. 6. Pence was unpersuaded. new book by reporter David M. Drucker adds more detail to Pence’s handling of Trump’s pressure. As Drucker reports, Pence’s top advisers — counsel Greg Jacob and chief of staff Marc Short — deeply researched the theory and decided Pence should disavow it, which he did on Jan. 6.

Full Article: Opinion | John Eastman’s legal theory created for Trump is still alive. The Jan. 6 committee should kill it. – The Washington Post

Editorial: The 2020 Election Was Nothing Like Bush-Gore | Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg

In today’s exercise in whataboutism, it turns out that (as some pundits are keen to remind everyone) there are Democrats who have claimed that the 2000 election was stolen, which presumably is important to bring up because it somehow turns the behavior of Donald Trump and his apologists into normal politics and those who are worried about the future of democracy into partisan hypocrites. It’s worth thinking about this a bit, in part because it shows we don’t quite have the vocabulary for what’s happening now and why it’s so different and dangerous. There’s a long history of partisans complaining that an election was stolen. Many Republicans, to this day, will refer to the 1960 election as obviously stolen because of irregularities in Texas and Illinois. I’m aware of accusations about (at least) the 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections as well. Oh, and of course 1972, when Richard Nixon and his supporters did all sorts of illegal things to disrupt the election, although it turned out that he won by one of the largest landslides in history only in part because of the effects of this misconduct. In the others, there were accusations of everything from campaign perfidy to plots to alter vote counts to claims that a candidate was ineligible for office. To begin, I’d note that all the elections before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were stolen in the important sense that Black citizens and many others were disenfranchised. Which reminds us that not all talk of election theft is partisan. Nor is all of it based on lies. How can we talk about this stuff then? I can think of several important criteria to consider. How much evidence is there for the claims that are made? To what extent would the accusations, if true, actually affect the election results? How did the aggrieved party as a whole, and any particular member of that party, act? Did they just whine a lot, or did they take concrete actions to attempt to alter the results — and if the latter, were these actions consistent with the Constitution and the rule of law?

Full Article: The 2020 Election Was Nothing Like Bush-Gore – Bloomberg

Editorial: Trump Loses Arizona—Again – He still cries ‘fraud’ even after the audit he demanded found none. | Wall Street Journal

Former President Trump claims Arizona’s ballot audit found “massive fraud,” yet the new recount says he actually lost the state by 360 more votes than originally reported. He is now demanding an audit of the 2020 election in . . . Texas, which he won by nearly six points. When are Republicans going to quit playing this game? Arizona’s official results say President Biden won by 10,457 votes. Mr. Trump never accepted the loss, so the GOP state Senate launched an “audit” by hiring Cyber Ninjas, a company without experience reviewing elections. After repeated delays and various pratfalls, here’s the result: A hand recount of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots says that Mr. Biden won the state by 10,817 votes. There’s no reason to prefer this tally over the certified one, given the audit’s erratic process and lack of transparency. For details, see a June report co-written by Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s former GOP Secretary of State, warning that Cyber Ninjas “will not produce findings that should be trusted.” The good news is they don’t need to be trusted, since the result is the same, except with worse numbers for Mr. Trump. True to his nature, Mr. Trump is claiming vindication based on the audit’s analysis of voter files. As the biggest example, he says Arizona’s results include “23,344 mail-in ballots, despite the person no longer living at that address. Phantom voters!” No. Did he read the report? This figure comes from comparing voter records to a commercial database on change-of-address filings, but look at the caveats.

Full Article: Trump Loses Arizona—Again – WSJ

Editorial: Will 2024 Be the Year American Democracy Dies? | Spencer Bokat-Lindell/The New York Times

Nearly nine months after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election, a question still lingers over how to place it in history: Were the events of Jan. 6 the doomed conclusion of an unusually anti-democratic moment in American political life, or a preview of where the country is still heading? Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law and an expert in election law, believes the second possibility shouldn’t be ruled out. In a paper published this month, he wrote that “The United States faces a serious risk that the 2024 presidential election, and other future U.S. elections, will not be conducted fairly, and that the candidates taking office will not reflect the free choices made by eligible voters under previously announced election rules.” It could be a bloodless coup, he warns, executed not by rioters with nooses but “lawyers in fine suits”: Between January and June, Republican-controlled legislatures passed 24 laws across 14 states to increase their control over how elections are run, stripping secretaries of state of their power and making it easier to overturn results. How much danger is American democracy really in, and what can be done to safeguard it? Here’s what people are saying.

Source: Opinion | Will 2024 Be the Year American Democracy Dies? – The New York Times

Editorial: Don’t be afraid of the election audits — they may be our only ticket out of this mess | Benjamin L. Ginsberg/The Washington Post

Bring on the audits. Really. As a Republican election lawyer who has participated in more than 30 post-election recounts, contests and audits, I am extremely confident: They won’t find anything. The massive fraud that former president Donald Trump claims tarnished the 2020 election has been and will remain illusory — because it didn’t exist. But audits, I believe, can be the friend of sanity, helping everyone in the political process, especially the Republicans who understand that convincing their voters that elections are hopelessly rigged is no way to win elections. Denying reality is not a successful electoral strategy. My argument to Republicans is simple: In the end, Trump’s elections-are-rigged message is going to hurt not only our democracy but also Republicans more than it hurts Democrats. So to the extent that some of those who have bought into Trump’s delusional claims of a stolen election can be dislodged from this view by the repeated conclusions of the audits he himself has called for, my advice is: Bring it on. Welcome them with open arms. The furies have already been unleashed. And if there’s a better plan to dispel the “big lie” out there, no one’s described it. The status quo is not sustainable, Trump is corroding American democracy with his unproven charges of fraudulent elections. Almost 30 percent of the electorate — and an astonishing 66 percent of Republicans — say they buy into Trump’s “big lie.” Constant fact-checking and reprobation by mainstream media outlets and good-government groups have not budged that number.

Full Article: Opinion | Don’t be afraid of the election audits — they may be our only ticket out of this mess – The Washington Post

Editorial: The GOP isn’t just re-litigating 2020. It’s pre-litigating 2022. And 2024. | Olivier Knox/The Washington Post

The best way to understand the aggressive Republican push to cast doubt on the 2020 election results and rewrite voting procedures in states the GOP controls is not as re-litigating President Biden’s victory, though that is a tool for trying to undermine him. Instead, it’s better understood as pre-litigating 2022 and 2024: Laying the foundation for challenging or even overturning Democratic victories of the lowercase “d” democratic variety in the future. Yes, I know that this has been blindingly obvious for some time. (Also, I offer my apologies to all of my English teachers for “pre-litigating.” I blame years of covering State of the Union “preactions.”) But consider what we’ve learned — though “confirmed” might be a better word — over the past week about former president Donald Trump’s avalanche of false claims he was cheated out of a second term. And consider he’s flirting with running again and has been repeating this nonsense at campaign-style rallies. First, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) — hardly “Never Trump” politicians — personally investigated the Trump camp’s claims of widespread irregularities and found nothing to deter them from voting to certify Biden’s victory.

Full Article: The GOP isn’t just re-litigating 2020. It’s pre-litigating 2022. And 2024. – The Washington Post

Editorial: America would be much better off if our elections were as boring as Germany’s | Max Boot/The Washington Post

Imagine that we lived in an alternative universe where Republican George H.W. Bush was elected president in 1980 and stayed in office until 1996. He was then followed by Democrat Michael Dukakis for two terms. Then, for the next 16 years, Republican Mitt Romney was in office. And finally, in 2020, Romney was succeeded by his vice president — Democrat Joe Biden. In this universe, our politics would be more boring — and a lot more sane and sensible. That, roughly, is what Germany has achieved. Helmut Kohl of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was chancellor from 1982 to 1998. He was followed by Gerhard Schroeder of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 1998 to 2005. For the past 16 years, Germany has been led by the CDU’s Angela Merkel, governing for most of that time in coalition with the SPD. Chancellor Merkel — who makes Romney look like the life of the party by comparison — leaves office with higher approval ratings than any other world leader. She has reduced the German unemployment rate, maintained stability and successfully navigated challenges such as a euro-zone debt crisis in 2009, a massive influx of refugees in 2015 and a coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Little wonder that the leaders of the CDU and SPD were competing over who would be seen as her heir. The winner, by a hair, in Sunday’s balloting was the SPD’s Olaf Scholz, who served as Merkel’s vice chancellor and finance minister for the past three and a half years. He marketed himself as “Angela the second,” right down to making the same diamond-shaped hand gesture as Merkel. His chief challenger, the CDU’s Armin Laschet — who might still be able to form a governing coalition with smaller parties — was just as dull. “It’s Election Season in Germany,” a New York Times article noted. “No Charisma, Please!”

Full Article: Opinion | America would be much better off if our elections were as boring as Germany’s – The Washington Post

Editorial: Election officials need our legal help against repressive laws and personal threats | Bob Bauer and Benjamin L. Ginsberg/The Washington Post

Election officials are coming under unprecedented attack for doing their jobs. Some states are attempting to criminalize the exercise of these officials’ trained professional judgments; some officials have been the target of threats to themselves and their families. Any American — whether Republican, Democrat or independent — must know that systematic efforts to undermine the ability of those overseeing the counting and casting of ballots on an independent, nonpartisan basis are destructive to our democracy. The two of us have been partisan opponents in the past, representing opposing political parties to the best of our abilities. But at this moment in time, we share a grave concern about attacks on those public servants who successfully oversaw what was arguably the most secure and transparent election in our country’s history, with record turnout, during a global pandemic. If such attacks go unaddressed, our system of self-governance will suffer long-term damage. So, in partnership with the nonprofit and nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research, we are launching the Election Official Legal Defense Network (EOLDN), which will connect licensed, qualified, pro bono attorneys with election administrators who need advice or assistance. State and local election workers anywhere in the country can go to EOLDN.org, or call the toll-free number (877) 313-5210, at any time, 24/7, to request to be connected with a lawyer who can help them, at no cost.

Full Article: Opinion | Election officials need our legal help against repressive laws and personal threats – The Washington Post

Editorial: The lessons from Trump’s ‘Kraken’ lawyer sanctions in Michigan – How to protect against this type of attack in the future | Scott L. Cummings/NBC

The only thing surprising about U.S. District Judge Linda Parker’s order early last month imposing monetary sanctions on nine Trump attorneys was that it was so long in coming. These lawyers — led by conspiracy-theorists-in-chief Sidney Powell and Lin Wood — made outlandish claims of election fraud in Michigan and other key battleground states, all of which were roundly rejected by every court that considered them. The Michigan suit was part of multistate litigation that Powell called the “Kraken” after the mythic sea monster (the release of which she claimed would destroy President Joe Biden’s victory). The Trump legal team made unsubstantiated claims of computerized ballot stuffing by a deceased foreign dictator and late-night ballot dumps by mysterious trucks, leading Parker to lambaste the lawsuit as “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.” The Kraken suit, and others brought by Trump campaign attorneys, imposed a stress test on the American legal system by seeking to co-opt courts to advance a fabricated account of the election results. Parker’s order suggests that the American system passed this test — just barely, and just for now. To protect against this type of attack in the future requires a concerted effort by the entire legal profession. It is therefore crucial that the lawyers on the bench and in the bar take seriously what they can do — and must do — better.

Source: Scott L. Cummings: The lessons from Trump’s ‘Kraken’ lawyer sanctions in Michigan

Editorial: How to prevent the next Jan. 6, as revealed in an important new analysis | Greg Sargent/The Washington Post

We cannot say we weren’t warned. As the select committee examining the Jan. 6 violence ramps up, one of its lesser-known goals is to offer “recommendations” to prevent a future effort to overthrow U.S. democracy through mob assault and intimidation. As it happens, there is a critical way Congress can minimize the possibility of another Jan. 6 — by addressing glaring legal vulnerabilities in the presidential electoral process that encouraged Donald Trump’s movement to try to overturn his loss, creating the conditions for the worst outbreak of U.S. political violence in recent times. We’re talking about revising the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887. That may sound dry and unexciting, but it would shore up hidden weaknesses that made the 2020 breakdown possible. This week, a bipartisan coalition of pro-democracy experts will release a new blueprint laying out a way to revise the ECA along those lines. The report from the National Task Force on Election Crises — which includes dozens of experts in election law and voting rights — outlines major fixes.

Full Article: Opinion | How to prevent the next Jan. 6, as revealed in an important new analysis – The Washington Post

Editorial: Trump is not the problem with American democracy, we are | Tom Nichols/USA Today

I’ve written about a lot of unpleasant, even frightening, subjects. For most of my career, I have been a specialist in national security affairs, a cheerless area of study. I’ve written about war, terrorism, and even about the possibility of nuclear apocalypse, a project that required staring at maps and charts of how entire cities would be turned into ash and left for eternity as desolated mass graveyards. And yet nothing was more difficult than writing about democracy in my own country. In the past, I brought – I hope – a scholarly and dispassionate eye to unpleasant subjects. Now, I was anguished. I was no longer writing about notional future wars or the faraway Russians. Now I was writing about my own people: my fellow citizens, my friends, my neighbors, my family. And I did not like what I saw. The people I have always counted on to be patriotic, sensible, and steady – like our ancestors had been under far more trying circumstances than our own – were now sirens of drama and complaint. Everything, they said, is as bad as it’s ever been. These, they were sure, are the worst times ever. We are all victims. Someone must pay. This is not the America in which I was raised. Something was wrong, and I wanted to know why millions of the citizens of my own nation – some of them near and dear to me – were now, astonishingly, embracing illiberalism and authoritarianism.

Full Article: Trump is not the problem with American democracy, we are: Tom Nichols

Editorial: Trump is planning a much more respectable coup next time | Richard L. Hasen/Slate

 

Full Article: Trump is planning a much more respectable coup next time.

Editorial: It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote | Merrick B. Garland/The Washington Post

Our society is shaped not only by the rights it declares but also by its willingness to protect and enforce those rights. Nowhere is this clearer than in the area of voting rights. Fifty-six years ago Friday, the Voting Rights Act became law. At the signing ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson rightly called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.” Prior attempts to protect voting rights informed his assessment. The 15th Amendment promised that no American citizen would be denied the right to vote on account of race. Yet for nearly a century following the amendment’s ratification, the right to vote remained illusory for far too many. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 marked Congress’s first major civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. That law authorized the attorney general to sue to enjoin racially discriminatory denials of the right to vote. Although the Justice Department immediately put the law to use, it quickly learned that bringing case-by-case challenges was no match for systematic voter suppression. Things would not have changed without the civil rights movement’s persistent call to action. By the time a 25-year-old John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the Justice Department had been embroiled in voting rights litigation against the surrounding county for four years. Although the county had approximately 15,000 Black citizens of voting age, the number of Black registered voters had only risen from 156 to 383 during those years.

Full Article: Opinion | Merrick Garland: It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote – The Washington Post

Editorial: Trust in U.S. Elections Is Slipping. It’s Time to Go on Offense. | William P. Crowell and Gregory A. Miller/Barron’s

The 2020 election was a wake-up call. Nearly half of voters expressed concern and even distrust in the voting process, due in no small part to the looming threat of foreign (and domestic) interference. That trust won’t come back on its own. We need to act to restore faith in election infrastructure and arm our election administrators for far better defense. Our election infrastructure includes the people who run elections, the people who oversee and validate the processes, and the technology that are used to conduct voting. The integrity of that infrastructure is critical to the functioning of our democracy. And yet, in many parts of this country, we have been witnessing attacks on the election system for decades. Some of the attacks are obviously politically motivated and intended to favor one political party or another. At the nonprofit OSET Institute, for 16 years we have focused most of our activities on developing new technology solutions that increase confidence in elections and their outcomes. We are deeply involved in the rethinking of the hardware, software, standards, and verification systems for election machines and processes. It would appear that is not enough. A robust campaign to strengthen our election infrastructure will require us to, first, disrupt and impede the spread of misinformation and disinformation about our election systems. The Internet has become the channel of choice for amplifying false information about voting, elections, candidates, and election integrity. Today we operate against offensive disinformation primarily using only defensive tools in cyberspace. A defense-only approach to disinformation is doomed to failure. Imagine if our military forces fought battles strictly by staying in their foxholes and never venturing out to engage the enemy. It would result in only one outcome: defeat. We need to balance our defensive efforts with offensive efforts that take advantage of the attackers’ weaknesses. We can use active means to counter false information. We can strike at the sources with cyber means of diminishing their outbursts.

 

Full Article: Restoring Trust in U.S. Elections Will Require Going on Offense | Barron’s

Editorial: Why easy voter access vs. election security is a false choice. Americans want both. | Will Friedman/USA Today

Last week, President Joe Biden referred to the pitched political battle underway between Republicans and Democrats on voting rights as the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.” In response, the president said, Democrats plan to work harder than ever to increase access, starting an effort to “register (people) to vote, and then get the vote out.” Republicans argue that voter fraud is the real threat to democracy, and that more restrictions and tighter security are the answer. This includes limiting the times and places where people can vote and rolling back systems put in place to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic. What’s interesting is that the American public reject this argument as a false dichotomy and have their own way of looking at what ought to be done to improve elections. In my role as a senior fellow at the nonpartisan organization Public Agenda, I recently co-led a survey of the American public on how to fix what’s ailing our democracy, discussed in our new report, America’s Hidden Common Ground on Renewing Democracy. On questions of voting reform, my colleagues and I decided not to ask whether the public favors one side or the other of the argument described above – plenty of pollsters were doing that already.

Full Article: Voter access vs. security is false choice: Hidden Common Ground

Editorial: The GOP’s violent rhetoric could make future elections much more dangerous | Ruth Ben-Ghiat/The Washington Post

In June, an anchor on One America News suggested that execution might be an apt punishment for the “tens of thousands” of “traitors” who, he claimed, stole the election from former president Donald Trump. A sitting member of Congress, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), told Americans in May that they “have an obligation to use” the Second Amendment, which is not about recreation but “the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.” And at a recent rally, Trump called for the public naming of the Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 insurrection, claiming, “If that were on the other side, the person who did the shooting would be strung up and hung.” The uptick in violent rhetoric among the GOP and its propagandists previews America’s turbulent future. The Jan. 6 attack failed to keep Trump in office, but it showed Republican constituencies the potential of violence as a path to power. The history of authoritarianism suggests that the threat and reality of violence are likely to be integral to the right’s bid to transform the country into an electoral autocracy — a system in which the voting process is manipulated so the ruling party can remain continuously in office. This Republican culture of violence and threat builds on histories of racial persecution and on policing used as an instrument of terror against non-Whites. Habituation to such violence, reinforced by the presentation of non-Whites as an existential threat to the future of America (as in the “great replacement theory” that Tucker Carlson has referenced on Fox News) makes it easier for the public to accept violence around political events, like elections, as necessary to “save the country.” Tellingly, the participants in the January coup attempt, which was billed as just this kind of patriotic act, included 57 local and state GOP officials and at least 52 active and retired military, law enforcement, and government personnel.

Full Article: The GOP’s violent rhetoric could make future elections much more dangerous – The Washington Post

Editorial: The Supreme Court clearly won’t protect voting rights. But Congress can. | Sean Morales-Doyle/The Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a severe blow to a crowning achievement of the civil rights movement and the nation’s best defense against racially discriminatory voting laws, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The court’s ruling in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee makes it substantially harder for voters to challenge such laws, hacking away at federal courts’ powers to protect Americans from efforts to impede their access to the ballot box. It’s the latest sign that if the voting rights of all Americans are to be defended, Congress, not the nation’s highest court, will have to provide that defense. The case concerns two provisions of Arizona’s voting laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. One of these said that someone who cast their vote at the wrong precinct would have their entire ballot tossed out, even for races such as president or governor, where precinct would not be a factor. The other restricted the circumstances under which vote-by-mail ballots could be turned in on behalf of a nonrelative neighbor or friend. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found both policies to be discriminatory because of the way they interact with the real-life conditions for minority voters in the state. For example, a brief filed by the Navajo Nation noted: “Arizona’s ballot collection law criminalizes ways in which Navajos historically participated in early voting by mail. Due to the remoteness of the Nation and lack of transportation, it is not uncommon for Navajos to ask their neighbors or clan members to deliver their mail.”

Full Article: The Supreme Court clearly won’t protect voting rights. But Congress can. – The Washington Post

Editorial: The Supreme Court Is Putting Democracy at Risk | Richard L. Hasen/The New York Times

In two disturbing rulings closing out the Supreme Court’s term, the court’s six-justice conservative majority, over the loud protests of its three-liberal minority, has shown itself hostile to American democracy. In one case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the court has weakened the last remaining legal tool for protecting minority voters in federal courts from a new wave of legislation seeking to suppress the vote that is emanating from Republican-controlled states. In the other, Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta, the court has laid the groundwork for lower courts to strike down campaign finance disclosure laws and laws that limit campaign contributions to federal, state and local candidates. The court is putting our democratic form of government at risk not only in these two decisions but in its overall course over the past few decades. Let’s begin with voting rights. In Brnovich, the court, in an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, held that two Arizona rules — one that does not count votes for any office cast by a voter in the wrong precinct and another that prevents third-party collection of absentee ballots (sometimes pejoratively referred to by Donald Trump and his allies as ballot harvesting) — do not violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Full Article: Opinion | The Supreme Court Is Putting Democracy at Risk – The New York Times

Editorial: No, the election wasn’t stolen in Antrim County Michigan either | David Von Drehle/The Washington Post

If you remember that the lower part of Michigan is shaped a bit like a left-handed mitten, look for Antrim County between the tips of the middle and ring fingers. It’s a beautiful place. The Lake Michigan beaches are delightful in summer. The fishing is fantastic year-round. Unlikely as it seems, this is an epicenter of Stolen Election mania. Now, meet Ed McBroom: a Michigan state senator and conservative Republican from the Upper Peninsula, an even more remote part of the state on the opposite side of the lake. Before the election, McBroom was going about his conservative business representing his constituents on such issues as the large population of wolves in Michigan’s far north and whether hunting them should be legal. After the election, McBroom accepted the thankless job of hunting down the truth about the supposedly Stolen Election. Together with two other Republicans and one Democrat, McBroom reports, “We have collectively spent innumerable hours watching and listening and reading.” What they found was a mostly well-run exercise in civic duty, slightly smirched by honest mistakes quickly rectified — and then buried in an avalanche of fantasy, fever dreams, grifter fiction and “blatherskite.” More on blatherskite later. The report of the McBroom committee makes for chewy reading but is worthwhile nonetheless. Plunging down one rabbit hole after another, the truth-hunters make every effort to find solid evidence for persistent claims of vote-shifting, machine-hacking, ballot-stuffing, algorithmic manipulation or any other means of overturning the will of the people.

Full Article: Opinion | No, the election wasn’t stolen in Antrim County, Mich., either – The Washington Post

Editorial: The Really Big Fight on Voting Rights Is Just Around the Corner | Richard H. Pildes/The New York Times

With the For the People Act on indefinite hold after a filibuster by Republicans in the Senate on Tuesday, the Voting Rights Act is about to return to center stage in Washington. The Supreme Court will soon decide a case on how a crucial part of the landmark law applies to voting laws challenged as racially discriminatory. The country is already roiling with controversies over whether a variety of post-2020 state voting changes reflect legitimate policy concerns or racially discriminatory ones. In Congress, Senators Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski have turned a spotlight on the Voting Rights Act with their endorsement of a version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. It would reaffirm Congress’s central role in protecting the right to vote against racially discriminatory changes and give the Justice Department (or, in Mr. Manchin’s version, the federal courts) the critical power to approve changes that are legitimate and block those that are invidious. The John Lewis Act might well offer the best chance of new national legislation protecting the right to vote in America, and its significance is best seen in historical context, especially that of two Supreme Court cases. The John Lewis Act would restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act (Sections 4 and 5) that were effectively invalidated by the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder. When enacted in 1965, these provisions identified certain parts of the country and put their voting systems under a regime of federal control. These areas had to submit voting changes to the federal government, which had the power to block a proposal if it would diminish minority voter power. The federal government does not normally have veto power over state laws, but Section 5 created one.

Full Article: Opinion | The Really Big Fight on Voting Rights Is Just Around the Corner – The New York Times

Editorial: How Joe Manchin could escape the trap he set for himself | Edward B. Foley/The Washington Post

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) is correct that any electoral reform enacted by Congress must be bipartisan — not one party’s rules imposed over the other’s unified opposition. But his position on the filibuster may need some adjustment if his own stated standard for bipartisan electoral reform is to prevail. First, let’s focus on why Manchin is right to nix the Democratic Party’s dream elections bill, For the People Act (H.R. 1/S.B. 1), in its current form. Not only does it contain components that are dubious on policy grounds, including campaign finance provisions that would increase funds for extremists such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). It also has items that are poison pills for Republicans, such as mandatory “same-day” registration and eliminating voter identification requirements for on-demand vote-by-mail. H.R. 1 passed the House with zero Republican votes, and the companion S.B. 1 has zero GOP support in the Senate. That’s because it’s a purely partisan bill aimed at helping the Democratic Party win elections, not impartial reform designed to foster fair electoral competition in America’s traditional two-party system. If Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), keep saying that H.R. 1/S.B. 1, as currently drafted, is essential to secure democracy, they are self-deceived or deceitful. Same-day registration is hardly necessary for the preservation of self-government.

Full Article: Opinion | How Joe Manchin could escape the trap he set for himself – The Washington Post

Editorial: GOP preparing the ground to steal an election | Juan Williams/TheHill

We need to talk about Jan. 6. I’m talking about Jan. 6, 2025. That’s when the U.S. Congress will meet to certify the winner of the 2024 presidential election. “How to Get Away With Murder” was a recent TV crime show. As the 2024 race approaches, the Trump-GOP’s current weekly drama is titled “How to Get Away with Murdering Democracy.” Step One — Don’t mention Jan. 6, 2021. If it comes up, say Trump’s violent radicals did not stop certification of President Biden’s win over Trump. It was just like a “tourist visit,” according to one GOP congressman, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.). Too bad for him he was photographed that day with a look of terror on his face. Next, prevent a bipartisan, independent commission from looking into the violent Republican riot. Twist the arms of the honest Republicans left on Capitol Hill by scaring them with previews of the commission’s probable findings and the damage those stories could do to the party’s efforts to regain control of the House, Senate and White House. Step Two — Change election laws in states with GOP-majority legislatures. New laws in Georgia, for example, take power away from independent election boards and the secretary of state to certify election results. Georgia’s new laws give unprecedented power to the Republican legislature to determine the winner of the 2024 election. They can override local and state election officials in certifying votes. In 2020, the Georgia secretary of state — a Republican, Brad Raffensperger — defied Trump’s demand to “find” enough votes to make him the winner of the presidential race. Raffensperger or his successor will not have that power come 2024.

Full Article: Juan Williams: GOP preparing the ground to steal an election | TheHill

Editorial: Democrats are wasting time pursuing their dream elections reform bill. Here’s a better path. | Edward B. Foley/The Washington Post

It’s become increasingly clear that Democrats lack the votes in the Senate to pass their dream elections bill, the behemoth known as S. 1. Before time runs out, they would be wise to come up with a backup plan that would not do as much but could still achieve significant progress in protecting the right to vote. Frankly, it’s less important what specific election reforms Democrats can negotiate than that the Democrats find some common ground with Republicans. What the country needs now is a genuinely bipartisan statement of shared commitments on how electoral competition is supposed to operate. Is it possible for a measure to attract the support of 10 Republicans? That’s a tall order in the current environment. But the universe includes the five who are retiring — Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Patrick J. Toomey (Penn.) — plus Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Ben Sasse (Neb.).

Full Article: Opinion | Democrats are wasting time pursuing their dream elections reform bill. Here’s a better path. – The Washington Post

Editorial: The Assault on Voting is an Assault on Local Democracy | Zachary Roth/Brennan Center for Justice

Last spring, in the weeks and months after life was first reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic, local governments stepped up to help save the 2020 election. Knowing that many voters might not want to risk their health by casting a ballot in person, cities like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Houston, and Miami expanded access to mail voting by sending absentee ballots or ballot applications to all registered voters, sometimes with pre-paid postage, and by providing ballot drop boxes, among other moves. I suggested at the time that Republican-leaning rural counties in the same states might follow suit, in order to ensure that rural voters would enjoy the same expanded access as urban ones. A race to the top, in other words. I should have known that was too optimistic. After an election in which both mail voting and overall turnout soared, several GOP-led states, as we know, are desperate to restrict voting. And as part of that effort, they’re looking to clamp down on local governments’ authority to make voting easier — or in some cases, to run elections at all. Two states have already done so. Among the most dangerous parts of the sweeping voter suppression law Georgia passed last month is a provision that allows the state election board to suspend and temporarily replace local election officials. In practice, that means the state board — which, thanks to a different part of the law, will have a majority of members appointed by the GOP-controlled legislature — will be able to oust any local election official who seeks to expand access to the polls in ways the state doesn’t like. That could prevent county officials from taking individual on-the-ground conditions into account in order to devise election plans that best serve their voters. One part of the restrictive voting law Iowa passed last month could have a similar effect, making it a felony for local election officials not to follow guidance from the secretary of state. And a bill in Arkansas would likewise allow the state election commission to take over local election boards under certain circumstances — it failed once in committee but can be brought up again.

Full Article: The Assault on Voting is an Assault on Local Democracy | Brennan Center for Justice

Editorial: Arizona Senate is abusing its authority. End its election ‘audit’ now | Arizona Republic

Republicans in the Arizona Legislature have set aside dollars, hired consultants, procured the hardware and software to conduct what they call “an audit” of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County. What they don’t have is the moral authority to make it credible. Their conduct post-election has been so nakedly partisan that whatever their audit finds, its results will not be believed. They’ll be mocked and derided. State Senate Republicans insist they are not trying to reverse the election, but are rather trying to build greater trust in the system. But how can anyone trust them? They have overreached from the beginning, abusing their subpoena power to try to criminalize a dispute with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. County officials resisted their demands to hand over county tabulating machines and ballots. The system had already gone through rigorous testing, established by election law. And even the Republican governor of Arizona and the Democrat secretary of state affirmed the integrity of the election.

Full Article: Arizona Senate is abusing its authority. End its election ‘audit’ now

Editorial: Farcical Maricopa County election audit just a sideshow to Trump circus | Tim Steller/Arizona Daily Star

Don’t look at the bias — that’s not what really matters. So claims Doug Logan, CEO of the firm called Cyber Ninjas that is playing at auditing Maricopa County’s elections as a contractor for Arizona’s state Senate Republicans. Logan put out a statement Tuesday responding to what he termed the “spurious clamor over bias insinuations.” I appreciated the fun word choice, but it couldn’t cover up his conclusion: He may be biased, but that doesn’t matter because the audit will be so, so good. Those aren’t his precise words, but they were the gist of his meaning when he said, “The big question should not be ‘Am I biased,’ but ‘Will this audit be transparent, truthful and accurate?’ The answer to the latter question is a resounding ‘Yes.’ ” In truth, the Arizona Senate Republicans’ so-called audit of the presidential election in Maricopa County is dead on arrival. In an effort to appease the GOP conspiracy caucus, Senate President Karen Fann and her sidekick, Sen. Warren Petersen, have chosen a team that has no credibility with anyone but conservative election conspiracists. For the rest of the state’s population, this audit is just a final sideshow of the Trump circus, best ignored or jeered at, but certainly not believed.

Full Article: Tim Steller’s opinion: Farcical Maricopa election audit just a sideshow to Trump circus | Local news | tucson.com

Editorial: The lack of federal voting rights protections returns us to the pre-Civil War era | Kate Masur/The Washington Post

As Senate Democrats push to extend federal protection of voting rights, bills to restrict citizens’ access to the vote — many based on models produced by the conservative Heritage Foundation — have been introduced in 43 states. On Thursday, Georgia enacted a law that limits voters’ options and makes it easier for the state legislature to interfere with election results. The current absence of strong federal protection for voting rights resembles the United States before the Civil War and reminds us of why Americans changed the Constitution to protect individual rights during Reconstruction. From the nation’s founding through the Civil War, the states had virtually unchallengeable power to define the status and rights of their residents. Slavery was only the most extreme example. Northern states such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania chose to abolish slavery in the years following independence from Britain, but across the Southern tier of states, legislatures perpetuated slavery and codified it in law. Congress admitted new slave states to the Union, putting its imprimatur on states’ “right” to legalize slavery and to people’s right to hold Black people in bondage, denying them rights that many considered fundamental to personhood. Beyond slavery, all slave states and some free states placed strictures on the basic rights of free African Americans. After joining the Union as a free state in 1803, for example, Ohio adopted laws that required free African Americans who wanted to live in the state to prove their freedom and register with local officials. Laws forbade them from testifying in court cases involving White people, and barred Black children from public education. Ohio’s constitution granted voting rights to White men only. By contrast, Massachusetts placed no racial restrictions on men’s right to vote and had no racist or testimony residency laws. It did, however, bar interracial marriage and prohibit Black men from serving in the state militia.

Full Article: The lack of federal voting rights protections returns us to the pre-Civil War era – The Washington Post

Editorial: Arizona Republicans’ desperate crusade to find nonexistent voter fraud | The Washington Post

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) says she is determined to “ensure the integrity of the vote” in her state. Which is supposedly why, five months after Election Day, following multiple credible audits that found no hint of substantial fraud, she insists that the state Senate must conduct yet another audit, re-scanning and hand-counting every ballot cast in Phoenix’s Maricopa County, as well as digging into electronic election systems. This would be a big job for even the most experienced election official or voting company, never mind state legislators. So Ms. Fann and her Senate colleagues tapped Cyber Ninjas, a little-known Florida cybersecurity firm that boasts that it provides “general consulting” and “ethical hacking” services, to lead the audit. Arizona journalists quickly discovered one possible reason for this puzzling choice: Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan appears to have pushed pro-Trump election conspiracy theories on a Twitter account he apparently deleted in January. “The parallels between the statistical analysis of Venezuela and this year’s election are astonishing,” one tweet read, which included the hashtag #StopTheSteal. “I’m tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it’s real, and people better get wise fast,” read a tweet Mr. Logan apparently retweeted in December. He was also involved in a lawsuit claiming election fraud in Michigan. “This firm’s CEO not only harbors conspiratorial beliefs about the 2020 election, but has shared conspiracies about Dominion election equipment, the exact equipment he has been hired to audit,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) objected.

Full Article: Opinion | Arizona Republicans’ desperate crusade to find nonexistent voter fraud – The Washington Post