While it’s been obvious for years that election law — the rules by which votes are counted, district lines are drawn and campaigns are paid for — represents a front in the culture wars, we don’t usually think of it that way. That’s because the term culture war signifies the politicization of competing belief systems — over abortion, for example, or religion or the appropriate social roles for men and women. (I use the word “belief” advisedly, recognizing that an anti-abortion position is purely opportunistic for a fair number of the Republican politicians who embrace it, including but not limited to President Trump.) The election-law wars, by contrast, aren’t about belief. They are about power: who has it, who gets to keep it. And as underscored by this week’s Supreme Court decision invalidating two North Carolina congressional districts as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, the justices are as fully engaged in combat as anyone else.
Opinion pieces and editorials on voting issues.
News must be new but it needn’t be surprising. The decidedly unsurprising news out of Iran last week: There was an election (of sorts) and the winner was Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent president. An apparently mild-mannered cleric with a beatific smile, he has presided over Iran for four years — a period of egregious human rights violations, the Iranian-backed slaughter in Syria, the taking of American and other hostages, and increasing support for terrorists abroad. Nevertheless, you’ll see him described in much of the media as a “moderate.” At most he is a pragmatist, one with a keen sense of how credulous Western diplomats and journalists can be. He knows they won’t judge him based on such quotes as this: “Saying ‘Death to America!’ is easy. We need to express ‘Death to America!’ with action.”
Editorials: Maine SoS Dunlap badly mistaken in agreeing to serve on Trump voter fraud panel | Richard Hasen/Portland Press Herald
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is making a serious mistake by agreeing to participate in a sham “voter integrity” commission established by President Trump to validate his ludicrous claims about voter fraud. But it is not too late for Dunlap to withdraw, and it’s the right thing to do. Arguments about the extent of voter fraud and voter suppression are not new, with Republicans tending to claim that voter fraud is a major problem that requires laws making it harder to register and vote, such as strict voter identification laws. Democrats see these laws as aimed at suppressing the votes of those likely to vote for Democratic candidates.
Editorials: Is Anthony Kennedy ready to put an end to partisan gerrymandering? | Mark Joseph Stern/Slate
Say what you will about Justice Samuel Alito, but the man always thinks ahead. On Monday, Alito dissented in Cooper v. Harris, the landmark 5–3 ruling that united Justice Clarence Thomas and the Supreme Court’s liberals to strike down North Carolina’s racial gerrymander. Frustrated by the progressive result, Alito penned a 34-page broadside lambasting his colleagues for accusing the state of race-based redistricting. North Carolina, Alito insisted, had gerrymandered along partisan lines, not racial ones, in an effort to disadvantage Democrats, not blacks. And partisan gerrymandering, Alito reminded us, does not violate the Constitution.
Editorials: The Supreme Court may just have given voting rights activists a powerful new tool | Richard Hasen/The Washington Post
Sometimes the most important stuff in Supreme Court opinions is hidden in the footnotes. In Monday’s Supreme Court ruling striking down two North Carolina congressional districts as unconstitutionally influenced by race, the majority buried a doozy, a potentially powerful new tool to attack voting rights violations in the South and elsewhere. At issue in the case was whether two congressional districts drawn by the North Carolina General Assembly were unconstitutional “racial gerrymanders.”
Editorials: The Tories promised to give expats the vote last year. It was a whopper | Giles Tremlett/The Guardian
In the rough-and-tumble of democracy, a general election is that magic moment when you kick out a politician who has reneged on their promises, or reward one who has fulfilled them. The genius, or cynicism, of Theresa May’s early election is that, after so few months of government, she has no real record to study. But here, for those wondering about her ability to flout any of her own government’s solemn pledges, is a whopper that has left millions of UK citizens in the lurch. In October her minister for the constitution, Chris Skidmore, made a clear and unequivocal pledgeto bring UK citizens living abroad back into the democratic fold, by allowing them to vote, before the next election. This was especially important to those whose lives are most traumatically affected by Brexit because they live elsewhere in the EU.
Editorials: Internet voting and paperless machines have got to go | Barbara Simons/Minneapolis Star Tribune
“They’ll be back in 2020, they may be back in 2018, and one of the lessons they may draw from this is that they were successful because they introduced chaos and division and discord and sowed doubt about the nature of this amazing country of ours and our democratic process.” — Former FBI Director James Comey, testifying about the Russian government before a House Intelligence Committee hearing, March 20, 2017
We are facing a major national security threat. As former Director Comey stated, we know that Russia attacked our 2016 election, and there is every reason to expect further attacks on our elections from nations, criminals and others until we repair our badly broken voting systems. Despite a decade of warnings from computer security experts, 33 states allow internet voting for some or all voters, and a quarter of our country still votes on computerized, paperless voting machines that cannot be recounted and for which there have been demonstrated hacks. If we know how to hack these voting systems, so do the Russians and Chinese and North Koreans and Iranians and ….
Editorials: ‘Pervasive’ election fraud and the man who’ll find it, even if it doesn’t exist | The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Amid a firestorm of controversy last week over President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, the administration announced formation of a new commission on “election integrity.” It seemed an amateurish attempt to deflect national attention from the president’s growing credibility problems regarding Russian influence on his presidential campaign and his reasons for firing the person in charge of investigating it. Doubly absurd was his naming of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to serve as the deputy head of the commission under Vice President Mike Pence. Republican Kobach’s record of attempting to suppress votes of minorities and young people in Kansas is legendary. Putting Kobach in charge of election integrity is like putting Russian President Vladimir Putin in charge of U.S. internet security.
President Trump has empaneled a commission to investigate voter fraud. The real fraud is the commission itself. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is to be led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Mr. Kobach, a Republican, is a longtime champion of voter suppression laws who seconded as “absolutely correct” the president’s fabricated assertion that Hillary Clinton’s victory in the popular vote, which she won by nearly 3 million ballots, was a result of “millions of people who voted illegally.” Mr. Kobach is notorious for erecting impediments to the ballot box — specifically, ones that would disproportionately discourage and deter minority and other Democratic-leaning voters. His presence as the commission’s vice chair — Mr. Pence’s other responsibilities make it likely that Mr. Kobach will be the panel’s driving force — makes a farce of the idea that the commission’s work will be dispassionate, fair and clear-eyed.
President Trump is doubling down on his false claims of voter fraud, fulfilling his promise to appoint a commission to study election integrity. We should see this move for what it is: a simple ploy to play into the misperceptions of his base, regardless of the evidence. More significant, if the focus of the commission is on election integrity, than it will be asking the wrong questions. We do not need a commission to tell us what we already know: Voter fraud, while existing occasionally in local races, is rare. Instead, we need to study why we make it far too hard for many people in this country to vote and what we can do to promote positive voting reforms. We need a commission on voter enhancements, not voter fraud.