Opinion | Bring On the 28th Amendment – By Richard L. Hasen – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Hasen is the author of “Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust and the Threat to American Democracy.”

Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

“What if we made voting an agent of equality, not inequality? And how can we get there?

If you are a college student or a working recent high school graduatepoorLatino, or someone who moves more frequently, you are less likely to vote. Seniors are much more likely to vote than young people, in some elections at twice their rate. Those with college degrees vote in higher numbers than the less educated. Minority voters are more likely to wait longer in line to vote in person, sometimes for hours, and they, young people, and first-time voters are more likely to have an absentee ballot rejected for nonconformity with technical rules. Poor voters are less likely to have the time off work to vote at all, much less wait in a long line to vote. Voters in big cities, who tend to be younger, poorer and browner, have coped with more serious election problems than others in voting in person and by mail during our coronavirus-laden primary season, like the voters in Milwaukee voters who saw 175 out of 180 polling places closed during the April 7 Wisconsin primaries.

In a democratic system, we expect our elected officials to be responsive to the views and interests of the voters. If the universe of voters — and, of course, campaign donors — is skewed toward older, wealthier, better educated whiter voters, political decisions will be as well. We need equality in voting rights and turnout to assure responsive representation and social policy that reflects everyone’s needs, not just those most likely to turn out with their votes and dollars.

Let’s start with the causes of the problem. The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare three pathologies with how we protect voting rights in the United States, and why the skew in voter turnout remains persistent.”

Opinion | Georgia Set Up a Polling Place in a Nursing Home – By Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown – The New York Times

By Cliff Albright and 

Mr. Albright and Ms. Brown run a civic engagement organization based in Georgia.

“ATLANTA — On what should have been a signal day for democracy last week, when voters cast ballots in the statewide primary elections, the signs of a debacle were visible early: malfunctioning voting equipment, a bungled response to the pandemic, too few polling stations and the looming specter of police violence.

The lines in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward stretched three long blocks. At one site, voters couldn’t even cast ballots until four hours after the polling station opened. Some workers weren’t properly trained to use the new machines. Voters showed up at polling places that had quietly closed. It was a “hot mess,” said Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.

How could Georgia be so unprepared, especially after state officials twice delayed the primary vote?

Wait times of four to six hours were the last things we needed in a pandemic that has disproportionately killed black people and older people, and in a state that reopened prematurely. It’s part of a pattern of course, given Georgia’s long history of voter suppression and the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

Trump Steps Up Attacks on Mail Vote, Making False Claims About Michigan – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday incorrectly accused Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state of mailing ballots to all of the state’s registered voters, falsely claiming that it was illegal, as he escalated his assault against mail voting.

The president also threatened to withhold federal funds to Michigan and Nevada if the states proceed in expanding vote-by-mail efforts.

“Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of primaries and the general election,” the president tweeted. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue secretary of state. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this voter fraud path!”

The Twitter post was the latest in a series of broadsides the president has aimed at the vote-by-mail process that has become the primary vehicle for voting in an electoral system transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
“WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday incorrectly accused Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state of mailing ballots to all of the state’s registered voters, falsely claiming that it was illegal, as he escalated his assault against mail voting.”
I really liked this article By Reid J. Epstein, and especially his opening paragraph. It is better to put fake news warning up front, so the reader will not possibly stop reading, before somewhere late in the piece, a disclaimer is revealed

Freed by Court Ruling, Republicans Step Up Effort to Patrol Voting – By Michael Wines – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Six months before a presidential election in which turnout could matter more than persuasion, the Republican Party, the Trump campaign and conservative activists are mounting an aggressive national effort to shape who gets to vote in November — and whose ballots are counted.

Its premise is that a Republican victory in November is imperiled by widespread voter fraud, a baseless charge embraced by President Trump but repeatedly debunked by research. Democrats and voting rights advocates say the driving factor is politics, not fraud — especially since Mr. Trump’s narrow win in 2016 underscored the potentially crucial value of depressing turnout by Democrats, particularly minorities.

The Republican program, which has gained steam in recent weeks, envisions recruiting up to 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to monitor polling places and challenge ballots and voters deemed suspicious. That is part of a $20 million plan that also allots millions to challenge lawsuits by Democrats and voting-rights advocates seeking to loosen state restrictions on balloting. The party and its allies also intend to use advertising, the internet and Mr. Trump’s command of the airwaves to cast Democrats as agents of election theft.

The efforts are bolstered by a 2018 federal court ruling that for the first time in nearly four decades allows the national Republican Party to mount campaigns against purported voter fraud without court approval. The court ban on Republican Party voter-fraud operations was imposed in 1982, and then modified in 1986 and again in 1990, each time after courts found instances of Republicans intimidating or working to exclude minority voters in the name of preventing fraud. The party was found to have violated it yet again in 2004.”

Opinion | Facing the Coronavirus, Republicans Aren’t So Pro-Life After All – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Sergio Flores/Getty Images

I look at the numbers every day, sometimes every hour, sometimes before dawn. China is not to be trusted. Nor is Russia. I’m always curious about the latest death toll out of Sweden, a country with a riskier, more self-regulated approach to keeping people apart. And cheers for long-suffering bell’Italia, finally seeing a drop in active Covid-19 cases.

All of us want the same thing — a road map to the way out. The scientific consensus is clear and not that complicated: We need a significant upgrade of testing, contact tracing to track the infected, nuanced and dutiful social isolation, all to buy time until a vaccine is developed.

But the political way out reveals a stark divide, and some true madness. For Republicans, that pro-life slogan of theirs is just another term for nothing left to lose. They are now the party of death.

When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas doubled down this week on prior remarks elevating commerce above life — there are “more important things than living,” he said on Fox News — he was speaking for a significant slice of his party. People are disposable. So is income. But one is more important.

Opinion | Wisconsin Voters Faced an Impossible Choice. It Shouldn’t Happen Again. – The New York Times

By 

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Credit…Illustration by Nicholas Konrad; photograph by Getty Images

“It was as gratifying as it was unexpected to watch Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers — who have repeatedly ignored if not erased the political voices of their own constituents — take a drubbing at the hands of the voters themselves.

The state’s Republican leadership insisted on holding an election in the middle of a pandemic and a statewide stay-at-home order, knowing that the dilemma it posed would hit minorities and other Democratic-leaning voters hardest.

Yet Republicans still lost in the state’s marquee race. When the ballots were counted and the official results were reported on Monday, Jill Karofsky, the Democratic candidate for a seat on the state’s Supreme Court, had comfortably beaten her Trump-endorsed opponent, the incumbent, Justice Daniel Kelly.

Defying the pleas of voters, poll workers, public-health officials, the Democratic governor and Democratic lawmakers, Republican legislators forced Wisconsinites to make a choice between protecting their health and casting their ballot.”

Opinion | The Wisconsin Primary Shows That Democracy Is in Trouble – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“. . . Yet the scariest news of the past week didn’t involve either epidemiology or economics; it was the travesty of an election in Wisconsin, where the Supreme Court required that in-person voting proceed despite the health risks and the fact that many who requested absentee ballots never got them.

Why was this so scary? Because it shows that America as we know it may not survive much longer. The pandemic will eventually end; the economy will eventually recover. But democracy, once lost, may never come back. And we’re much closer to losing our democracy than many people realize.

To see how a modern democracy can die, look at events in Europe, especially Hungary, over the past decade.

What happened in Hungary, beginning in 2011, was that Fidesz, the nation’s white nationalist ruling party, took advantage of its position to rig the electoral system, effectively making its rule permanent. Then it further consolidated its control, using political power to reward friendly businesses while punishing critics, and moved to suppress independent news media.

Until recently, it seemed as if Viktor Orban, Hungary’s de facto dictator, might stop with soft authoritarianism, presiding over a regime that preserved some of the outward forms of democracy, neutralizing and punishing opposition without actually making criticism illegal. But now his government has used the coronavirus as an excuse to abandon even the pretense of constitutional government, giving Orban the power to rule by decree.

If you say that something similar can’t happen here, you’re hopelessly naïve. In fact, it’s already happening here, especially at the state level. Wisconsin, in particular, is well on its way toward becoming Hungary on Lake Michigan, as Republicans seek a permanent lock on power.”

Opinion | On the Wisconsin Primary, the Supreme Court Failed Us – By Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Lauren Justice for The New York Times

“The Supreme Court just met its first test of the coronavirus era. It failed, spectacularly.

I was hoping not to have to write those sentences. All day Monday, I kept refreshing my computer’s link to the court’s website.

I was anxious to see how the justices would respond to the urgent request from the Republican National Committee and Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature to stop the state from counting absentee ballots postmarked not by Tuesday’s election but during the following few days.

A federal district judge, noting that Wisconsin’s election apparatus was overwhelmed by the “avalanche of absentee ballots” sought by voters afraid to show up at crowded polling places, had ordered the extra time last Thursday, with the full support of the state’s election officials. Was I the only one left in suspense on Monday, holding out hope that the five Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices would put partisanship aside and let the District Court order stand?

In early evening, the answer landed with a thud. No, they would not.

In more than four decades of studying and writing about the Supreme Court, I’ve seen a lot (and yes, I’m thinking of Bush v. Gore). But I’ve rarely seen a development as disheartening as this one: a squirrelly, intellectually dishonest lecture in the form of an unsigned majority opinion, addressed to the four dissenting justices (Need I name them? Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan), about how “this court has repeatedly emphasized that lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election.” “

Opinion | We Must Vote in November. Voting by mail etc is How to Ensure That We Can. – The New York Times

By Bob BauerBen Ginsberg and 

Mr. Bauer, Mr. Ginsberg and Mr. Persily were members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Credit…Cj Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

“Voters should not have to choose between casting a ballot and risking their health. They should not have to endure confusion over the location of polling places or the availability of vote-by-mail. Yet voters might face exactly those problems in November if we do not act now to protect the election from Covid-19.

To safeguard the inclusivity and legitimacy of our elections, the federal government should provide resources that states should use in a credible, bipartisan fashion.

We must act now. Elections — American democracy itself — should not be among the pandemic’s victims.

We’ve done something like this before. Roughly seven years ago, we led a bipartisan commission set up by President Barack Obama. There had been significant problems with the operation of the electoral process in 2012, and our task was to suggest possible solutions. Two of us (Mr. Bauer and Mr. Ginsberg) were co-chairs and the other (Mr. Persily) was the senior research director. As part of our broad charge, and in light of Hurricane Sandy, we looked at the challenges posed by natural disasters. Our recommendations on these and other election administrative issues were well received by election administrators across the country, of both parties. We also noted where more progress was urgently needed.”

Opinion | Let the People (of Florida) Vote – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

“Winning civil rights is never easy. The fight can stretch on for decades and include setbacks that feel like utter defeat. An enduring lesson of the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century is the need for persistence, because social progress doesn’t come without a fight.

I’d encourage you to keep this idea in mind as I tell you this morning about the fight for voting rights in Florida. Parts of the story are depressing. Yet I think optimism is still the right attitude.

Last year, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, a ballot initiative restoring voting rights to 1.4 million state residents previously convicted of a felony. It seemed like one of the biggest victories for voting rights in years, especially because almost 20 percent of black adults in the state had previously been prevented from voting. In May, however, the state legislature — controlled by Republicans — passed a bill that undermined the amendment, and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill in June.”