Editorials: 2016: How digital balloting opens doors to election thieves, voter fraud | John P. Warren/Human Events

The constant kerfuffle about voting rights does get your attention, doesn’t it? To the left, it seems that attempts to embed a sense of order and integrity to our voting process is the right’s way of disenfranchising minorities and the elderly. To the right, every attempt to make voting easier and more remote—that is, you don’t have to be “there” to do it—represents just one more dilution what some say is our most precious right: to have our say at the ballot box. … With at least nine different kinds of voter fraud available—as defined by The Heritage Foundation (“Does Your Vote Count?”)—it seems there’s no dearth of opportunity for those with initiative to cheat the rest of us out of our voice at the polls. Some say there’s very little evidence of voter fraud, so what’s the big deal? …  The ninth kind of vote fraud outlined by The Heritage Foundation is “Altering The Vote Count,” and of all of different ways our votes can be stolen, this one is the most understated, threatening, invisible, and probable. For those who might challenge that statement, my answer is that our own life experience shouts an affirmative.

North Carolina: After initial hysteria, back-pedaling over North Carolina voter fraud claims | Facing South

Last week, top staff of the N.C. State Board of Elections made a presentation to legislators about the state of voter registration in North Carolina. Out of the board’s 58-page PowerPoint presentation [pdf], only two of the slides (34 and 35) related to the Interstate Crosscheck, a project run by the Kansas secretary of state to root out suspected voter fraud. But the findings of North Carolina’s involvement in Crosscheck quickly ignited a media firestorm, especially in the conservative media: “N.C. State Board Finds More than 35K Incidents of ‘Double Voting’ in 2012” trumpeted National Review. “Oh My: Audit Finds Evidence of Widespread Voter Fraud in North Carolina” blared Townhall.com. Dick Morris, the conservative comentator and former political operative, made even more wild claims, claiming in an editorial for The Hill that North Carolina’s findings offered “concrete proof that massive voter fraud might have taken place in the 2012 election, sufficiently widespread to have tainted more than 1 million votes nationwide.” As Facing South was one of the first to report, however, the North Carolina election board’s data offered little proof of rampant fraud. The 35,750 figure represented people who, when plugged into Crosscheck’s database of voter files from 28 states, had the same first name, last name and date as birth of people who had voted in other states in 2012. But many of those can be explain by clerical errors and the fact that a surprisingly large number of people in different states share the same names and birthday.

North Carolina: Officials ask court to dismiss elections law challenges | Charlotte News Observer

Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials filed their first official response Monday to two of the three federal court lawsuits that challenge the extensive election-law changes adopted this past summer. In response to allegations by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, several voters and other civil rights organizations, attorneys for the governor and state officials dispute plaintiffs’ contentions that the new measures are a blatant attempt to suppress the African-American vote. The filings offer few details of the legal strategy the attorneys representing the governor and the Republican-led legislature plan to employ in fighting the suits. They ask for the cases to be dismissed. Also on Monday, McCrory defended North Carolina’s law at an event in Washington held by the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation.

Editorials: Citizens United, McCain-Feingold Fueled Congress’ Shutdown Politics | Paul Blumenthal/Huffington Post

Dysfunctional politics led a coalition of independent conservative groups and hardline Republican lawmakers to push for a showdown on Obamacare over a continuing resolution to fund the government and thus to shut down the government for more than two weeks. But what empowered a fracturing Republican Party to bring chaos on Washington? The short answer: a one-two punch rewriting of campaign finance law that drove legislators to heed their own parties’ extreme elements. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has blamed the 2002 McCain-Feingold reform law, calling it “the worst thing that ever happened to Congress.” By taking unlimited “soft money” away from the political parties, but especially from the Republican Party, the law empowered the nascent insurgents at the Club for Growth. President Barack Obama said it was the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that “contributed to some of the problems we’re having in Washington right now.” Post-Citizens United, money from independent groups has poured into elections.

Editorials: No, Congress Won’t Fix The Voting Rights Act. Here’s Why. | TPM

Ever since the Supreme Court gutted a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act and threw it back in Congress’s lap, lawmakers in both parties have engaged in happy talk about the prospects of patching the provision used to proactively snuff out voter discrimination against minorities in the state and local governments where it’s most prevalent. But it’s looking less and less likely that a fix will be agreed to because Republicans have little to gain and a lot to lose politically if they cooperate. “Ain’t gonna happen,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) said late last week, according to Roll Call. A recent House Judiciary Committee hearing made clear that Republicans have little to no interest in reconstituting the Voting Rights Act. Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-TX) opened by emphasizing that even after the Supreme Court’s decision, “other very important provisions of the Voting Rights Act remain in place.”

Editorials: North Carolina bill prolongs unfair disenfranchisement of ex-felons | Charlotte Observer

Proponents of felony disenfranchisement laws tell us these laws are only an extension of the justice system. People like Hans A. von Spakovsky, of the conservative Heritage Foundation, say that people with former felony offenses must prove themselves and that the right to vote should not be a “freebie.” But what the rhetoric does not mention is that felony disenfranchisement is not about crimes or justice, it is about suppressing the right to vote, particularly for African-American males. History tells the story. During the Reconstruction Era the black electorate expanded. Freedmen were voting at higher rates and the color of elected officials was shifting.

Editorials: How conservatives invented “voter fraud” to attack civil rights | Gary May/Salon.com

Just when it seemed that the democratic process had reached its apotheosis with the election of America’s first black president, a political earthquake occurred in 2010 that threatened all that had been accomplished since 1965. Two years after Obama’s election, the midterm elections saw a conservative backlash that swept Republicans back into office in droves. As the media focused on the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and increases in the Senate, more important developments were occurring closer to home. Republicans now controlled both legislative bodies in 26 states, and 23 won the trifecta, controlling the governorships as well as both statehouses. What happened next was so swift that it caught most observers off guard — and began surreptitiously to reverse the last half-century of voting rights reforms.

North Carolina: Supporters, opponents of voter ID law cite data to back up their position | NewsObserver

Lawmakers heard from election experts Wednesday who said there was little evidence of voter fraud in North Carolina, but that voter ID laws in other states had not led to voter suppression as critics have predicted. Of the 21 million votes cast in North Carolina since 2000, the State Board of Elections only turned over one case of voter impersonation for prosecution – the sort of fraud that requiring a photo ID is designed to stop. “Voter fraud is rare and cases of voter impersonation even more uncommon,” Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice, a New York think tank that has opposed voter ID laws, told a House committee considering legislation to require a photo voter ID. “There is no evidence of coordinated or systemic voter fraud anywhere in the country and there is certainly no evidence here in North Carolina,” Gaskins said. “A voter ID law would not improve North Carolina’s elections, but what we do know is that many North Carolina voters lack the kind of identification required by such a law.”

Editorials: The Fraud of Voter Fraud | The Atlantic

Jane Mayer’s article on the invention of the voter-fraud myth is required reading as we go into the last day’s of the election. Mayer zeroes in on Hans von Spakovsky, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has been instrumental in turning gossamer, rumor and myth into state-level election law: Von Spakovsky offered me the names of two experts who, he said, would confirm that voter-impersonation fraud posed a significant peril: Robert Pastor, the director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, at American University, and Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. Pastor, von Spakovsky noted, had spoken to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about being a victim of election fraud: voting in Georgia, he discovered that someone else had already voted under his name. When I reached Pastor, he clarified what had happened to him. “I think they just mistakenly checked my name when my son voted — it was just a mistake.”

National: State voting-law cases test Supreme Court’s politics just ahead of Election Day | USAToday

Efforts by some states that could make it tougher to register to vote or vote are heading toward the Supreme Court, providing a fresh test of the justices’ political mettle. The court agreed Monday to hear Arizona’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that blocked the state from requiring proof of citizenship when registering by mail. The case, which could affect other states including Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee, likely will be heard in the winter and decided in the spring. More urgent is the court’s imminent decision whether to hear Ohio’s appeal of lower-court rulings that blocked the state from closing early voting centers three days before the election, while allowing military and overseas voters continued access. President Obama’s campaign is opposing the state’s case.

Florida: Hans von Spakovsky Helped Rick Scott’s Office With Voter Purge Media Push | TPM

Hans von Spakovsky, the controversial Bush administration official who writes in support of restrictive voting laws, worked with the office of Gov. Rick Scott on the rollout of Florida’s voting list purge, according to documents shared with TPM. Emails show that Scott’s communications staff planned to offer von Spakovsky up to local radio station as an expert on Florida’s effort to purge their voting lists back in June. While the purge targeted non-citizens, the state was using faulty data that included numerous legitimate voters.

Editorials: Montana case gives campaign reformers best shot at undermining Citizens United | NationalJournal.com

The way conservatives tell it, President Obama’s White House tenure has resulted in a near-death experience for federalism. A tidal wave of Obama-inspired federal regulation has turned autonomous states into captives of the national bureaucracy, a perversion, they say, of the Constitution and the Founders’ vision of the “laboratories of democracy.” States’ rights, then, are of paramount concern for conservatives—except, it turns out, when the discussion turns to campaign finance and another principle near and dear to their hearts: free speech. As a case before the Supreme Court this month demonstrates, some on the Right might profess to love the 10th Amendment, but they’re willing to push it aside to embrace the First—at least in this context. The case, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, centers on a century-old Montana law that prohibits corporations from spending money on political campaigns. The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to have rendered the state law unconstitutional in 2010 in its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending on elections; but the Montana Supreme Court unexpectedly upheld the ban last year.

Wisconsin: Scott Walker Opponents Use Public Shame To Get Out The Vote | Forbes

“Incredibly creepy mail today from the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund,” wrote political blogger Ann Althouse on Friday. The mailing consisted of a list of Althouse’s neighbors, including their addresses and whether or not they had voted in the previous two elections (though not who they voted for); it was sent in advance of Tuesday’s recall election of controversial Wisconsin governorScott Walker. It’s an attempt to shame people into doing their civic duty by publicly slapping them with a “I Didn’t Vote” sticker. The mailing upset some of those who received it. “I think this is invasion of my privacy and every other woman’s privacy. It’s like – here, this is where all the women are,” complained one paranoid voter to the Journal Sentinel. According to the Journal Sentinel, there were two versions of the flier. The one that Althouse received had a generic message  “Who votes is public record! Why do so many people fail to vote? We’ve been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.” Other voters, who the political organization presumably trusted were Walker opponents, received a more specific message: “Scott Walker won in 2010 because too many people stayed home! Two years ago, more than half a million Wisconsinites who supported Obama failed to vote in the 2010 election. And that’s how Governor Scott Walker got elected. This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote.”

Rhode Island: Who passed Rhode Island’s voter ID law? | Providence Phoenix

Two months ago Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation, de facto apologist for a new wave of conservative-inspired voter ID laws, appeared on PBSNewsHour to defend the cause. The laws, passed in eight states last year, are widely viewed as a Republican ploy to disenfranchise minorities and older voters who are less likely to have the photo identification the measures require at the polls. But von Spakovsky, flashing a blue tie and tight smile, brushed aside criticism with what has become a standard talking point on the right. “While many Republican legislatures have passed these kind of requirements,” he said, “we know that in Rhode Island, Democrats passed it.”  Rhode Island is, indeed, the curious exception to the rule: the only state with a Democratic legislature and left-leaning governor to approve a voter ID law last year. And with the measure set to face its first big test in this fall’s elections, civil rights activists and Democratic operatives — local and national — are still scratching their heads: how is it that one of the bluest states in the nation enacted a law so red?

National: McConnell warns of popular vote ‘catastrophic outcome’ | NBC

Addressing what he called “the most important issue in America that nobody is talking about,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned Wednesday that the National Popular Vote movement is “getting dangerously close to achieving their goal of eliminating the Electoral College without actually amending the Constitution — without anybody even noticing, unfortunately, what they’re up to.”

The National Popular Vote is a compact among state legislatures under which they pledge that they’ll award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide, even if that candidate was not the majority choice of their state’s voters.

So far, California, seven other states, and the District of Columbia (all of which have large Democratic majorities) have passed legislation taking the National Popular Vote pledge. Those states and D.C. account for 132 electoral votes. The compact says it is to take effect when states with a total of at least 270 electoral votes have agreed to it.

National: GOP Nonprofit Backs Electoral College | Roll Call

An obscure but well-funded campaign to reinvent the Electoral College and elect the president via a national popular vote has alarmed GOP leaders, who have mounted a counterattack with the help of a newly revived nonprofit. The fight over the Electoral College is “the most important issue in America nobody’s talking about,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a Wednesday forum co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the State Government Leadership Foundation, a GOP-friendly nonprofit that has recently unveiled a new website and ramped up its operations.

The National Popular Vote campaign would replace the Electoral College system, which assigns electors to states based on the size of their Congressional delegations and requires a candidate to win at least 270 of 538 electoral votes to become president. Eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that would instead deliver their Electoral College slates to the candidate who won the most popular votes nationwide. The laws will go into effect when enough states pass similar legislation to break the 270-vote threshold.