How bogus is President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission? One of the group’s own members, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, has filed a lawsuit to get more information about what the panel is doing since no one is telling him, or other Democratic members. It is one of many lawsuits filed against the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. In his lawsuit, Dunlap contends that the commission is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which seeks to prevent groups like the election advisory commission from being used to advance partisan objectives under the guises of a balanced review. The act says that the membership of advisory committees must be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented.” In addition, commission materials must be available to all members. Dunlap’s suit alleges that only some commission members are preparing materials and then those materials are not shared with the entire commission, which includes seven Republicans and four Democrats. Materials, which Dunlap and other commission members have not previously seen, have been presented at commission meetings, where it is clear that other members have participated in writing them.
Opinion pieces and editorials on voting issues.
Donald Trump Jr.’s private exchanges with WikiLeaks on Twitter during the 2016 campaign raise a host of new questions about the Trump team’s communications with foreign entities before the election. But the messages alone don’t appear to cross any clear-cut legal lines. “I certainly didn’t see anything that looks like a smoking gun in the descriptions that we were given,” Rick Hasen, a University of California, Irvine, law professor who specializes in election law, told me. My colleague Julia Ioffe reported Monday that Trump Jr. exchanged multiple private messages on Twitter with the radical transparency organization before the election. In some cases, Trump Jr. appeared to act on requests from the group. In one instance, for example, he tweeted a link it had sent his way. A message posted by his father’s account soon after the group contacted Trump Jr. also mentioned WikiLeaks. The messaging, which WikiLeaks initiated during the election and continued as recently as July, was not previously known to the public.
Election Day 2017 seems to have gone smoothly. There were few contests of major consequence and turnout was low – with Virginia the most notable exception. Election integrity – the extent to which the outcome of the election matches the will of the voters – was not an issue in the news. Things could, however, be different in 2018. Concern over election integrity could become amplified if turnout is high and margins close. Given the stakes in the 2018 midterms – now less than a year away – and other concerns such as widespread reports about Russian hacking, now is the time when election officials must begin the critical work of ensuring the integrity of the vote. When most people think about threats to election integrity, security and fraud are the primary concerns. For example, were the ballots or the election totals hacked? Were ballot boxes stuffed? Were there ballots cast by people who were not eligible to vote?
Editorials: Dunlap can sue, but election commission was always a sham | Cynthia Dill/Portland Press Herald
The federal lawsuit brought by Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap demanding prompt communication from and meaningful participation on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity – which is studying nothing, in order to give advice to President Trump, who will ignore it – expends a lot of taxpayer money and judicial resources, but at least it’s deductible. “Voter fraud” is not a real thing, but like a Pet Rock it has become a commercial success. The political issue harkens back to Jim Crow-era literacy tests and poll taxes, but the latest voter-suppression push is relatively recent. Republicans work to disenfranchise an important chunk of the Democratic voting base – minorities and young and low-income people – by making it harder for them to vote. They do this by passing laws that restrict voting registration times and polling places and require government-sponsored identification, among other means.
Editorials: How Democrats may use election wins to re-draw voter districts | Joshua A. Douglas/Reuters
Most political observers say that Tuesday’s elections were a referendum on Donald Trump or a signal of what will happen in 2020. “The results across the country represent nothing less than a stinging repudiation of Trump on the first anniversary of his election,” wrote The Washington Post, in a typical statement of the conventional wisdom. True, the Democrats did well, picking up state legislative seats from Georgia to New Hampshire, including a massive swing of at least 15 seats in Virginia, as well as the governorships in Virginia and New Jersey. But politics can change quickly: Democrats lost the governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009 and took heavy losses in the 2010 congressional midterms, yet Barack Obama won reelection in 2012. Yesterday’s wins may portend Democratic gains in Congress in 2018. But maybe they won’t. The true implication of the 2017 elections is what they mean for redistricting and electoral reforms in the years to come.
Editorials: US campaign finance laws resemble legalized bribery. We must reform them | Russ Feingold/The Guardian
When powerful lobbyists work hard over the coming weeks to convince Republican lawmakers to change their tax package to please them, it would probably be of interest to know exactly how much campaign cash these so-called stakeholders and their industries have given or spent in recent years for the members of Congress who are writing tax laws. But because federal disclosure laws need to be updated, it’s probably too difficult to ever really know the complete answer. An opaque system of legalized bribery and legalized extortion is not an outrageous way to characterize the state of our nation’s federal campaign finance laws. Over the past few years, real campaign finance reform has gone the way of voting rights and gun control. There is no longer a bipartisan starting point where discussion and negotiation could begin. The Republican party has caved in to its right flank and put party interests ahead of the country’s.
Editorials: Voting Rights Could Be the Biggest Winner in Tuesday’s Democratic Victories | Ari Berman/Mother Jones
Brianna Ross of Richmond, Virginia, lost her right to vote at 19 when she received a felony conviction for stealing diapers for her newborn son. Now 53, she voted for the first time in her life in Virginia’s statewide elections yesterday. “I remember way back in 1993, when the judge told me, ‘You can’t ever vote,’” she told Sam Levine of the Huffington Post. “I didn’t know what that meant, but it made me feel empty, it made me feel unimportant. But I voted today.” … Virginia was one of four states that blocked ex-felons from voting—disenfranchising 1 in 5 black Virginians—until Gov. Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights to 168,000 ex-felons over the past year and a half. Ross was among them. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie sharply criticized McAuliffe and his lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam, for this policy. But Northam’s victory in the governor’s race on Tuesday means that Virginia will continue to restore voting rights to ex-offenders. It’s just one way that Democratic victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington yesterday could lead to an expansion of access to the ballot.
Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been confirmed by no fewer than 17 U.S. intelligence and security agencies. Widespread evidence exists that Moscow’s spy services also sought to influence contests held in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Many worry out loud about possible Russian machinations in Italy’s general election next May. Yet if Russia truly wants to damage the U.S. and weaken the western world order, Mexico’s elections next year offer a more rewarding and more vulnerable target. No other country influences the U.S. as much as its southern neighbor. Mexico remains one of America’s largest trading partners, exchanging nearly $600 billion in goods that support millions of U.S.-based jobs and communities. It is the ancestral home to some 37 million Mexican-Americans and immigrants, and the place of residence for the largest U.S. diaspora.
The winners of Tuesday’s elections — Republican or Democrat, for governor, mayor or dogcatcher — all have one thing in common: They received more votes than their opponent. That seems like a pretty fair way to run an electoral race, which is why every election in America uses it — except the most important one of all. Was it just a year ago that more than 136 million Americans cast their ballots for president, choosing Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by nearly three million votes, only to be thwarted by a 200-year-old constitutional anachronism designed in part to appease slaveholders and ratified when no one but white male landowners could vote? It feels more like, oh, 17 years — the last time, incidentally, that the American people chose one candidate for president and the Electoral College imposed the other.
One hundred and fifty years ago this month, ex-slaves lined up across the South, clutching their ballots, joining the first elections in which large numbers of black Southerners participated. One year ago, on Nov. 8, Americans voted in another historic election. Donald Trump lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College. On the strength of this mandate, he began an inquiry into alleged voter fraud, raising the very real specter of voter suppression. These two anniversaries are part of the same story of voting rights. It cannot be told as a succession of amendments and laws protecting ever greater freedoms. But neither is it simply a tale of dreams deferred and disenfranchisement. Rather, the vote has expanded and contracted, through law and custom.