The modern American crusade against voter fraud has always been propelled by faith. That is, an insistent belief in things unseen — things like voters who show up at the polls pretending to be someone else, or noncitizens who try to register and vote illegally. Fraud like this is so rare as to be almost unmeasurable, and yet its specter has led to dozens of strict new laws around the country. Passed in the name of electoral integrity, the laws, which usually require voters to present photo IDs at the polls or provide proof of citizenship to register, make voting harder, if not impossible, for tens of thousands of people — disproportionately minorities and others who tend to vote Democratic. The high priest of this faith-based movement is Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate who has been preaching his gospel of deception to Republican lawmakers for years. He has won plenty of converts, even though he has failed to identify more than a tiny handful of possible cases of fraud. In his eight years as secretary of state, he has secured a total of nine convictions, only one of which was for illegal voting by a noncitizen; most were for double-voting by older Republican men.
Opinion pieces and editorials on voting issues.
Editorials: We can stop Russian election hackers in 2018 | Duncan Buell, Richard DeMillo and Candice Hoke/USA Today
The first ballots of the 2018 mid-term elections will soon be cast, but many Americans will exercise this constitutional right without much confidence that their votes will be fairly and securely counted. Partisanship in Congress and bureaucratic delays have left voting even more vulnerable to the attacks that top intelligence officials say will accelerate in 2018. Meanwhile, irrefutable evidence has revealed that Russia engaged in a multifaceted attack on the 2016 election through information warfare, and that hackers also scanned or penetrated state election infrastructure in ways that could lead to manipulation of voter registration data — and possibly change vote totals in 2018. We propose two stopgap measures that can be immediately implemented without waiting for funding or new legislation. Cybersecurity experts have repeatedly warned that none of our current voting technologies was designed to withstand the cyberattacks expected in the coming months. This national emergency calls for Americans to act immediately before the voters’ faith in democratic elections is severely undermined. Experts agree there’s time to contain major threats to this year’s elections, but we must rapidly convert from paperless touch-screen voting machines to paper ballots, and upgrade states’ and counties’ verification practices to conduct public post-election ballot audits before local election boards certify the 2018 elections. A post-election audit involves simply checking the computer-generated tabulations against paper ballots to be sure the machine hasn’t been compromised.
Editorials: Tennessee needs to update its election system and both parties agree | Shanna Singh Hughey/The Tennesseean
Should Tennessee be doing more to safeguard our elections? According to a ThinkTennessee poll, 68 percent of Tennessee voters think so. And with good reason. The Department of Homeland Security this fall informed 21 states that their 2016 elections were targeted by Russian hackers. Thankfully, Tennessee was not one of those states. But as the CIA director recently said, he has “every expectation” that Russia will continue to try to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections.
FBI Director Christopher Wray is right: The cyber threat has evolved into a full blown information security crisis with the ongoing midterm elections becoming the primary concern. Meanwhile, the Senate’s email system is being probed by an adversary and the FBI is looking into the hacking of former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Senate campaign communications. Despite all this, Wray has renewed the call for weakening of encryption, the one measure proven to safeguard our critical information. While unobstructed access to everyone’s information through a ‘magical digital backdoor’ would make investigations easier, it would also make law enforcement’s task of protecting our economy, national security, and personal information practically impossible.
Doug Ford went into the final days of the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race saying the party’s voting system was “corrupted” in favour of “hand-picked elites.” Then he won the leadership, and it has been his chief opponent, Christine Elliott, who has had to reconcile with a bizarre online selection system that made Mr. Ford the winner – even though she won more than 50 per cent of the popular vote and more ridings than he did. No doubt Mr. Ford is happy with the outcome. But the truth is that the one-member, one-vote online voting system for electing party leaders, which is used by Canadian political parties at all levels, is proving to have many drawbacks.
Editorials: As Colombia votes, the former guerrillas are rendered irrelevant | Rodrigo Palau Zea/The Washington Post
When Colombians went to vote in congressional elections on Sunday, international media had little doubt what the story was: the participation of former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — the guerrilla movement that had conducted a 52-year war against the country’s central government until concluding a peace treaty in November 2016. “Former FARC rebels face first ballot,” blared the BBC. “Critics of peace deal dominate Colombia election,” declared the Associated Press. The Voice of America went with “Former Colombian guerrillas run for office.” You could be forgiven for thinking the campaign was all about FARC, but, as it turned out, nothing could be further from the truth. To an amazing extent, Colombia’s congressional vote was FARC-free territory.
Editorials: Count all the people, just as the Constitution says | David Gans/San Antonio Express-News
Under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department has repeatedly turned its back on our Constitution’s promise of an inclusive democracy, seeking to make it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote. Now, the department has another trick up its sleeve. If successful, its ploy would undermine the fabric of our representative democracy for the next 10 years, and possibly beyond. The Justice Department has requested that a mandatory citizenship question be added to the 2020 census. This would chill participation by immigrants across the country and result in bad data, biasing congressional apportionment, redistricting and funding decisions for an entire decade. The Constitution imposes a clear duty on the Census Bureau: It requires a count of all people living in the United States, whether they are citizens or noncitizens, whether they were born in the United States or in a distant part of the world.
Even as the Supreme Court takes more time than expected to decide its part in the constitutional controversy over how voting is to be done this year for the 18 House of Representatives members from Pennsylvania, a federal trial court in Harrisburg, PA, is pondering a complex question of states’ rights that could end the case there without a decision on who wins. The difficulty for the three judges sitting in the state’s capital city arises from the reality that, whenever a lawsuit is started in a federal court, that court has to have the authority to decide it, and there is significant controversy over whether the Harrisburg court has that authority. The controversy is keyed to the most basic understandings about the nature of the Constitution’s division of powers between state and federal courts. For decades, the general understanding has been that only the Supreme Court has the authority to review a state court ruling, and then only when the state court has issued a ruling that involves the federal Constitution. That is a strong gesture toward federalism – respect for states’ rights in limiting national government power.
This is a fragile moment for the nation. The integrity of democratic institutions is under assault from without and within, and basic standards of honesty and decency in public life are corroding. If you are horrified at what is happening in Washington and in many states, you can march in the streets, you can go to town halls and demand more from your representatives, you can share the latest outrageous news on your social media feed — all worthwhile activities. But none of it matters if you don’t go out and vote. It’s a perennial conundrum for the world’s oldest democracy: Why do so many Americans fail to go to the polls? Some abstainers think that they’re registering a protest against the awful choices. They’re fooling themselves. Nonvoters aren’t protesting anything; they’re just putting their lives and futures in the hands of the people who probably don’t want them to vote. We’ve seen recently what can happen when people choose instead to take their protest to the ballot box. We saw it in Virginia in November. We saw it, to our astonishment, in Alabama in December. We may see it this week in western Pennsylvania. Voting matters.
With crucial midterm elections coming up later this year, Republicans continue to use a landmark Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to clamp down on voting rights and access. John M. Gore, appointed by President Donald Trump as acting head of the Civil Rights division of the U.S. Justice Department, has a history of defending Republican redistricting plans in Virginia, South Carolina, New York and Florida. One of Gore’s first moves in his new role was to drop part of a lawsuit challenging the Texas voter ID requirements that help keep minorities from voting. Such restrictions have become more common since the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. Thirty-four states now have voter ID laws.