Editorials

Opinion pieces and editorials on voting issues.

Editorials: Utah needs to think about security above all as it buys new voting machines | Robert Gehrke/The Salt Lake Tribune

State elections officials held an open house earlier this month to demonstrate five election systems vying to replace the voting machines that have been chugging away for the past 13 years. Just a few days earlier, a group of hackers in Las Vegas took part in a demonstration of their own, designed to show how easily they could exploit the machines used around the country and potentially compromise our elections process. The results were alarming. The first voting machine was hacked within 90 minutes. By the end of the afternoon, all five had been compromised. One was reprogrammed to play Rick Astley’s 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The whole thing had been Rick Rolled. … Barbara Simons, president of Verified Voting, has been sounding the alarm about voting machine security — or lack thereof — for years. But even she was skeptical before the DefCon hacker exercise that the hackers would be able to compromise the machines. She was wrong. And the Russian interest in hacking election equipment makes her doubly concerned. Read More

Editorials: Voter suppression is the civil rights issue of this era | The Washington Post

Standing up to racism and intolerance is a moral imperative, and those who do, like Heather Heyer, the young woman who died as she challenged the thugs in Charlottesville last Saturday, are champions of American principles. In an era when so many bedrock values are under attack, it’s important to think strategically and prioritize the ones worth fighting for. … In statehouse after statehouse where Republicans hold majorities, the playbook is well established, and the tactics are becoming increasingly aggressive. Mr. Trump’s voter fraud commission is at the vanguard of this crusade, and the fix is in. Its vice chairman, Kris Kobach, is the nation’s most determined, litigious and resourceful champion of voter suppression. Under his tutelage, the commission is likely to recommend measures whose effect will be that new obstacles to voting would be taken up in state legislatures. Read More

Editorials: Purging voter rolls to suppress turnout | Baltimore Sun

Last week, the U.S. Solicitor General took the unusual step of reinterpreting a 24-year-old federal statute specifically designed to convenience voting in order to switch sides in a pending Supreme Court case that centers on Ohio’s aggressive purging of voter rolls. The Trump Justice Department now sides with Ohio, which contends that not voting for six years — and then not responding to a single mailing asking the voter to confirm his or her registration — is sufficient to remove that person from state voter rolls. That should cause no small amount of alarm. It’s part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to restrict voting rights under the guise of fighting fraud, which is nearly non-existent. The true purpose is to keep from the polls individuals who are less likely to support Republican candidates or causes. And it’s a potential stake through the heart of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “Motor Voter Act,” which was meant to expand, not shrink, the nation’s voter registration rolls. Read More

Editorials: North Carolina Republicans have made a game out of redistricting | News & Observer

Their old legislative district maps have been ruled unconstitutional by federal courts because of racial gerrymandering, and now Republican leaders of the General Assembly have no choice but to draw new districts by Sept. 1. Yet they seem not just calm but upbeat about the whole process. And to do the map drawing they’ve hired Tom Hofeller, who drew the current unconstitutional maps. He’ll be paid $50,000 for the task. So there’s the first curiosity about all this. Hofeller’s of course a friend of the GOP, which is to be expected. But how can taxpayers, who are footing this bill, have confidence in someone whose last maps were thrown out by courts? But there are other curious things here. The Republicans, who have Democrats on their committees pertaining to redistricting but ignore them, have passed rules clearly aimed to benefit them in terms of guidelines for drawing the new maps. Read More

Editorials: Kenyan Democracy’s Missed Opportunity | Neha Wadekar/The New Yorker

Last Tuesday, Nairobi felt like a city awaiting the apocalypse. Streets normally clogged with traffic were eerily quiet. Grocery-store shelves had been largely emptied of supplies. Anxious wealthy residents booked flights out of town, conveniently scheduling their summer vacations to avoid the chaos of a Kenyan national election. The Chinese government, Western private-sector companies, and other foreign investors braced as well. A peaceful vote in Kenya, which is regarded as the most vibrant economic and democratic power in East Africa, could unleash billions of dollars in infrastructure and development contracts. Kenya has had a long and calamitous history of political violence and corruption since it gained independence from British colonial rule, in 1963. Much of this conflict is rooted in ethnic tensions between different tribes, which many historians attribute, in part, to decades of British colonial rule that intentionally played major tribes against one another. Rich and poor Kenyans alike feared a repeat of the 2007 post-election violence between two of the country’s largest tribes, the Luo and Kikuyu, which killed more than twelve hundred people and displaced more than half a million. Read More

Editorials: Illinois Automatic Voter Registration bill lingers on Rauner’s desk … why? | The Times

On June 1, the Chicago Cubs were 25-27, in third place in the National League Central, three games behind Milwaukee. As of Aug. 15, they’d improved to 62-56, taken over first place and the Brewers had fallen into third. Also on June 1, we published an editorial calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to live up to his May promise to sign Senate Bill 1933, a measure that would make automatic voter registration the law of the land in Illinois. Rauner vetoed similar legislation in 2016, so lawmakers went back to work, crafting such agreeable legislation that it gained unanimous approval in both the House and Senate — a feat made even more staggering when placed in the context of the partisan rancor that has gripped and gridlocked Springfield for years. SB 1933 closely aligns the new automatic voter registration system with the state’s Real ID program and is designed to make the process less expensive, more modern and more secure. It also builds in the time it will take to develop a fair and effective system before launch, rather than putting the cart several lengths ahead of the horse. Read More

Editorials: Don’t suppress the vote, but keep track of voters | Los Angeles Times

Reversing the position it took during the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Justice under President Trump last week asked the Supreme Court to uphold a procedure the state of Ohio wants to use to purge some voters from its election rolls — a practice that disproportionately disenfranchises poor and minority voters. The court should decline the invitation and rule that Ohio is violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. That landmark law prohibits states from purging registered voters from the rolls just because they failed to vote. Ohio argues that its procedure is justified by language added to federal law in 2002. But the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state’s interpretation last year. The appeals court said that using a lack of voter activity as a “trigger” for beginning the purge process made a “paper tiger” of the law’s ban on purges for not voting. Read More

Editorials: Fine Lines: Partisan Gerrymandering and the Two Party State | Lexi Mealey/Harvard Political Review

The American experiment began with a revolution. At its core was fair representation, the idea that individuals should be able to exercise control over their government. The Declaration of Independence expresses this idea, with Thomas Jefferson writing, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed-That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.” Since the nation’s founding, equal representation has served as a crucial catalyst for social progress. The 15th Amendment that granted African American men the right to vote was based on this fundamental principle, and the 19th Amendment granting suffrage to women followed under the same premise. The idea that all individuals deserved fair representation, regardless of race and gender, later spurred the civil rights movement, and continues to influence modern political reform across the nation. Read More

Editorials: Trump’s fraud commission should support automatic voter registration | Kenneth Cosgrove & Nathan R. Shrader/The Hill

President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity has ignited a fierce debate about whether rampant voter fraud exists in this country as well as the extent of the federal government’s role in administering elections and maintaining voting rolls. Despite the tremendous push-back thus far against the Commission, this remains a golden opportunity to vastly improve elections in America. As scholars and practitioners of politics, we believe that the top priority for the Commission should be to make our system of administering elections and registering voters fairer and more efficient. The time has come for universal voter registration for every American who turns 18, with this linked directly to our existing Social Security numbers. With this approach, voter registration would also become portable as people move across precinct, municipal, county, and state lines.  Read More

Editorials: Partners in Voter Suppression | The New York Times

The Trump administration moved deeper into the politics of voter suppression this week by reversing the federal government’s opposition to Ohio’s effort to purge tens of thousands of voters from the rolls simply because they vote infrequently. A federal appeals court blocked Ohio’s move last year as a violation of voting laws, in a case brought by civil rights advocates and backed by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. Now that an appeal has been accepted for this term by the Supreme Court, Trump appointees at Justice — not career professionals — have changed the government’s position to side with Ohio, in effect endorsing the purge and asking that it be allowed to go forward. Read More