Editorials

Opinion pieces and editorials on voting issues.

Editorials: Lessons learned from the Russian hacking scandal and our “cyber” election | Joel Wallenstrom/TechCrunch

Information security — or what is commonly referred to as ‘cyber’ — has dominated the narrative in this week’s hearings on Capitol Hill about the Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Despite the political noise, a fact-based public debate on how to deal with strategic and targeted attacks is what’s needed now to develop better defenses for all – businesses or government organizations. There is a universal agreement that a highly-motivated and unapologetic entity has conducted an advanced and persistent campaign to disrupt, undermine and gain power over its strategic adversary. The questions become – what have we learned from the 2016 campaign and how are we going to adapt to prevent similar cyber campaigns in the future? The alleged attempt by Russia to influence the outcome of the US elections is today’s news. Yet this has not been and will not be the last time such operations have been conducted by nation-states, including our own. Read More

Editorials: Trump’s irresponsible claims are undermining confidence in voting | Mindy Romero/The Sacramento Bee

In today’s surreal political landscape, the president claims that 3-5 million people voted illegally in November and has called for an investigation, but offers no credible evidence for his claims. Just last month, President Donald Trump asserted that thousands of people were bused into New Hampshire from liberal-leaning Massachusetts to vote illegally on Election Day – again with no proof. Many Americans buy the president’s phony storyline. A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll showed 43 percent of registered voters believe voter fraud is somewhat common or very common in a typical presidential election. Voter fraud – voting by the deceased, voting by noncitizens, and voting more than once –is a serious offense. But election officials and leading voting experts find no evidence of significant voter fraud in U.S. elections, including in 2016. Read More

Editorials: The fight over voting rules didn’t start with Trump’s tweets | Michael Waldman/Los Angeles Times

When President Trump said “millions” voted illegally in November, he joined an old American battle. The fight over who can vote in the United States goes back more than two centuries, with one group after another demanding to participate in our democracy, and the Supreme Court often playing referee. This history puts voting rights at the center of this week’s confirmation hearings for Neil M. Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee to fill the ninth seat on the high court. The next justice’s pen, not the president’s tweets, could redefine your right to vote. Nonetheless, Trump has raised the stakes over voting rights. He insists not just that he won the popular vote (he didn’t) but that 3 million people voted illegally in California, Virginia and New Hampshire. That assertion is nonsense. Democratic and Republican election officials confirm that voter fraud is almost nonexistent, and Trump’s own lawyers agree the 2016 election was fair. But even cartoonish claims may have big consequences. Vice President Mike Pence has been tapped to investigate Trump’s charges. National legislation to curb voting rights — in the guise of protecting the franchise — could follow. Read More

Editorials: Texas Needs a Remedial Lesson on Voting Rights | The New York Times

In Texas, which has for decades made an art of violating the voting rights of minorities, officials and lawmakers can’t seem to keep their hands clean. Now, the state may become the first to have its voting practices placed under federal oversight since the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. A Federal District Court in San Antonio ruled on March 10 that the state’s Republican-led Legislature redrew congressional district lines in 2011 with the intent to dilute the voting power of Latino and black citizens, who tend to vote Democratic. In two districts — one encompassing parts of South and West Texas, and the other in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — the court found that mapmakers used various methods that violated the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act. In the former, a Latino-majority district, they broke up cohesive Latino areas, pulled in Latino voters with lower turnout rates while excluding those with higher turnout rates, and included more high-turnout white voters. Read More

Editorials: The Right Way to Investigate Russia’s Election Meddling | Carl Levin & John Warner/Politico

As Congress gears up to investigate Russia’s reported interference in American elections, precisely what form that inquiry will take is up for debate. But even at this early stage, one thing is clear: Whether it is done by the Intelligence Committees, a joint or select committee, or some other congressionally created framework, a vital goal of any such investigation must be bipartisanship. It’s not simply that an investigation must be conducted—from start to finish—in a bipartisan manner; it’s that history confirms that an investigation will be of value only if the American public perceives it as bipartisan. Indeed, some of the most important investigations Congress has ever conducted—the hearings on Watergate, Iran-Contra and the joint inquiry into the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—made a real difference precisely because their bipartisan nature enabled them to get at the truth and gain the trust of the American people. Unfortunately, such bipartisanship will now pose a challenge. Read More

Editorials: ‘Never Trump’ Republicans join call for select committee to investigate Russia and Trump | Josh Rogin/The Washington Post

Democrats in Congress have long argued that the ongoing intelligence committee investigations into Russia’s interference in the presidential election and the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin are unlikely to get to the bottom of the issue. Now a group of “Never Trump” Republicans are planning to pressure GOP leaders to establish a bipartisan select committee to take over the inquiries and settle the matter once and for all. Stand Up Republic, a nonprofit organization led by former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin and his running mate, Mindy Finn, is launching a public campaign aimed at building support among Republicans for consolidating the various congressional Russia-related investigations into one empowered and fully funded select committee. The organization’s ad, which goes live Tuesday with a six-figure television ad buy, makes the case that the Russia issue is too important not to investigate fully. Read More

Editorials: South Koreans Can’t Agree What Democracy Is | Steven Denney/Foreign Policy

On March 10, South Korea’s Constitutional Court rendered its most important decision since its founding in 1988. The court’s eight judges unanimously voted to remove President Park Geun-hye from office, citing abuse of power and permitting a private citizen, her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, to meddle in state affairs. The former president was impeached by the legislature on Dec. 9, following revelations that Park had consulted Choi on state matters and used her presidential influence to secure millions of dollars in donations from the country’s largest conglomerates, including Samsung, for two nonprofit organizations run by Choi. Following the court’s decision, the acting president and Park-appointed prime minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, said in a public broadcast: “It’s time to end conflict and confrontation.” But that will be far easier said than done. Park’s scandal did much more than end her career. It has ruptured some of the most powerful institutions in Korean society and put the country in an unprecedented constitutional, social, and political crisis. Read More

Editorials: Penny wise, pound foolish: 2020 Census needs funding now | Wade Henderson/The Hill

With everything going on in Washington, you may have missed the recent news that the 2020 Census has been deemed a “high risk” federal program by the Government Accountability Office, which is concerned about the Census Bureau’s “ability to conduct a cost-effective enumeration” in 2020. Should you be concerned? Yes, absolutely. While 2020 seems far away, decisions being made this year by Congress and the Trump administration will determine whether the Census Bureau has the resources it needs to do the job well. And getting the census right is important to everyone. Read More

Editorials: The Justice Department to black voters: Don’t bother | The Washington Post

Texas is suffering the first consequence of the Trump administration’s indifference to voting rights, which is a polite way of characterizing the ongoing Republican campaign to disenfranchise young and minority voters who tend to support Democrats. In one of his first significant moves since taking office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw cold water on long-standing efforts by the Justice Department to clean up a blatantly discriminatory Texas law clearly designed to suppress African American and other Democratic-leaning votes. The move was in keeping with Mr. Sessions’s long-standing hostility to civil and voting rights, and with a widespread view within the GOP that nothing short of blatant hate speech should be considered as racism. However, by pulling back from the lawsuit seeking changes in the Texas statute, the administration threw in the towel on four years of efforts by civil rights lawyers in the Justice Department, which had so far been successful in the federal courts. Read More

Editorials: Elections: State Progress, Federal Train Wreck | Miles Rapoport/The American Prospect

The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) met February 16 and 17 on Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks from the White House. Ironically, despite irresponsible claims of massive voter fraud and legitimate worries about voter suppression, participants in the NASS Conference and its sister group, the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), had a fair amount to feel pretty good about. They could reflect upon an Election Day in November that in a procedural sense went fairly smoothly—not a description often applied to the 2016 election. The chaos and conflict at the polls that was feared by many did not materialize. The incidence of long lines and polling place problems was significantly reduced from 2012, and the gaps between the experiences of voters in white precincts and precincts in communities of color narrowed as well, according to MIT Professor Charles Stewart, based on the Survey on the Performance of American Elections conducted immediately after the elections. Two issues, however, were too fraught with partisan conflict to achieve any consensus on the part of the assembled secretaries of state: Russian hacking and calculated interference in the election, and the president’s claim of massive voter fraud. Read More