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Election Fraud, Voter Intimidation, Voter Suppression, Gerrymandering Page 3

*** Trump was projecting what he was going to do when he said the election would be rigged he is the one rigging the election. ***

By Dahlia Lithwick

On a recent episode of Amicus, Dahlia Lithwick reconvened Rick Hasen, an election law professor at UC–Irvine, and Carol Anderson, the Charles Howard Candler professor of African American studies at Emory University, who had both joined her earlier this year for the Election Meltdown series, to discuss the latest threats to the November election, from Donald Trump to voter depression. A portion of their conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, is below.

Dahlia Lithwick: Rick, Election Meltdown was the title you chose for your book published Feb. 4. That was a million years ago. What did your election’s crystal ball fail to flag that has arisen since then? What is melting down today more intensively than anything you even anticipated?

Rick Hasen: No. 1: coronavirus, which even in the best of times would have made holding a successful election in the United States a challenge. It’s much more expensive to run elections in a pandemic, both in person and vote by mail, and one of the early things we talked about in our series was pockets of election administrator incompetence. Well, we’re full of pockets now because to ramp up the scale of mail and balloting is just really, really tough to do. In the best of circumstances, it takes years to roll it out. more...

Story by Cynthia Fernandez of Spotlight PA

HARRISBURG — One day after President Donald Trump fanned manufactured fears of election fraud in Pennsylvania, Republicans in the state legislature pushed forward an effort to create an “election integrity” committee that Democrats characterized as a “stealth attack” on voting. The resolution would create a committee of five House lawmakers — three Republicans and two Democrats — to investigate and review the Nov. 3 election. The group would be empowered to subpoena “witnesses and documents” and initiate legal filings.

Democratic lawmakers, outnumbered in both chambers, called the resolution an overreach of power with a high potential for abuse. The committee could even attempt to “impound uncounted ballots,” House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D., Allegheny) claimed — potentially delaying the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results. “To put it simply this is a dangerous threat to our democracy,” Dermody said in a statement. Rep. Garth Everett (R., Lycoming), who introduced the resolution, dismissed those concerns, saying Wednesday the intent of the measure was to review the election and make recommendations for improvements. more...

By Rebecca Beitsch and Maggie Miller

Election officials and voting rights experts are sounding the alarm over potential election chaos and voter intimidation in November after President Trump urged his supporters to monitor the polls on Election Day. During Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Trump issued a call to his base to go to polling stations and make sure ballots aren’t “manipulated.” “I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it,” Trump said in response to a question about whether he would hold off on declaring victory until after the results are certified and ask his supporters to remain calm.

“I hope it’s going to be a fair election, and if it’s a fair election, I am 100 percent on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that,” Trump added. His comments on the national stage follow similar remarks by his campaign. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, said in a video last week that he needs “every able-bodied man, woman to join [the] army for Trump’s election security operation.” “We need you to help us watch them,” he added. But if the president’s supporters comply with his request, they risk violating a host of state laws along with federal statutes rooted in a 19th century law designed to counter voter suppression tactics used by the KKK. more...

Voting rights advocates worry the effort will target and intimidate minority voters.
By Jane C. Timm

Republicans are recruiting an estimated 50,000 volunteers to act as "poll watchers" in November, part of a multimillion-dollar effort to police who votes and how. That effort, coordinated by the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump's re-election campaign, includes a $20 million fund for legal battles as well as the GOP's first national poll-patrol operation in nearly 40 years.

While poll watching is an ordinary part of elections — both parties do it — voting rights advocates worry that such a moneyed, large-scale offensive by the Republicans will intimidate and target minority voters who tend to vote Democratic and chill turnout in a pivotal contest already upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Some states allow poll monitors to challenge a voter's eligibility, requiring that person's ballot undergo additional vetting to be counted. In Michigan, for example, a challenged voter will be removed from line and questioned about their citizenship, age, residency and date of voter registration if, according to election rules, a vote challenger has "good reason" to believe they are not eligible. They are required to take an oath attesting that their answers are true and are given a special ballot. more...

By Kristen Holmes, Jeremy Herb and Pamela Brown, CNN

(CNN) State and local officials across the country are scrambling to respond to the potential for voter intimidation and violence on Election Day in the wake of President Donald Trump's calls during Tuesday's debate for his supporters to "go into the polls." Trump's comments have energized far-right groups and sparked new warnings from state election officials about the potential for voter intimidation and conflict that could create chaos on Election Day. It's one more factor threatening to disrupt an election that Trump has been claiming for months -- without evidence -- will be fraudulent if he is not declared the winner.

"I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it," Trump said when asked if he would tell his supporters to stay calm and not engage in civil unrest around the election. State officials are hitting back at the President over his remarks and engaging with local law enforcement and others who have authority to maintain order at voting locations to ensure they are prepared. more...

Charles Davis

Notorious right-wing trickster Jacob Wohl, already banned from Twitter and accused of fabricating sexual assault claims against prominent Democrats, was charged with multiple felonies on Thursday for allegedly trying to intimidate voters in the battleground state of Michigan.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told reporters that the scheme involved false robocalls targeting Detroit and urban areas in at least four additional states, the Associated Press reported. First uncovered in August, the effort purportedly entailed claims that casting a ballot by mail would result in voters' information being forwarded to police and debt collectors.

"Don't be finessed into giving your private information to the man," the calls stated. "Beware of vote by mail." In an October 1 arrest warrant, Nessel's office formally accuses Wohl and another defendant, John Macauley Burkman, of "presenting false and misleading statements about mail-in voting in a telephone message." The charge carries a possible five-year prison sentence and $11,000 in fines. more...

By Ashley Killough, Ed Lavandera and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Thursday limiting the amount of drop-off locations for mail-in ballots to one site per county. The move significantly affects the Democratic stronghold of Harris County, which is the state's largest county by population -- one of the most populous in the country -- and covers a massive area. It must now reduce its 11 drop-off locations down to one starting on Friday. Travis County, which includes the reliably Democratic city of Austin, must limit its four drop-off locations to one.

Other large counties -- like Tarrant, Dallas and El Paso County -- only had one drop-off location already in place. The Republican governor said in a statement the order was made to enhance ballot security. It also allows poll watchers to observe the in-person delivery of mail-in ballots by voters, but critics say it could severely limit access for many voters.  "The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections," Abbott said. "As we work to preserve Texans' ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state. These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting."

The decision has already drawn fire from Texas Democrats. The state's Democratic party chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, labeled it a "blatant voter suppression tactic" in a press release. The group Let America Vote also blasted the move. "The governor is making it harder for people to vote in the middle of a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 16,000 Texans," the group said in a statement. "It is a shameful, blatant act of voter suppression that will disproportionately impact the large number of Black and Latinx voters in Texas' biggest counties."

Former Democratic presidential candidate and Texas native Julian Castro similarly cast Abbott's proclamation as an effort to make voting "harder for fellow Texans." The Republican governor, he tweeted, "knows how angry Texans are with Trump's failure, (Republican Sen. John) Cornyn's failure and his own to keep Texans safe and our people working." more...

By Marshall Cohen

Washington (CNN) A federal judge in Montana rejected the Trump campaign's effort to stop an expansion of mail-in voting in the state. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee filed the lawsuit earlier this month after Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive allowing all counties in the state to switch to an essentially all-mail system for the 2020 election. But District Judge Dana Christensen ruled against Trump's campaign on Wednesday and rejected its request to block the new voting rules. In his ruling, the judge blasted the Trump-backed "fiction" that there is widespread voter fraud in US elections.

"This case requires the Court to separate fact from fiction," Christensen wrote. "... Central to some of the (Trump campaign's) claims is the contention that the upcoming election, both nationally and in Montana, will fall prey to widespread voter fraud. The evidence suggests, however, that this allegation, specifically in Montana, is a fiction." There is substantial evidence from election experts and others that "the use of mail ballots present no significant risk of fraud," added Christensen, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama in 2011. more...

By J. Edward Moreno

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D) warned on Wednesday that President Trump was telling supporters during a presidential debate the night before to intimidate voters at polling locations. During the debate Tuesday, Trump told supporters to go to polls and “watch very carefully,” once again insinuating that fraud may run rampant during this year's election. Trump’s comments were widely interpreted among Democrats to suggest his supports participate in voter intimidation.

“But he wasn't talking about poll watching. He was talking about voter intimidation,” Ford said. "FYI -- voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada. Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.” Trump also suggested that poll watchers in Philadelphia were kicked out of polling locations in the primary. "There was a big problem, in Philadelphia they went in to watch, they're called poll watchers, very safe very nice thing — they were thrown out, they weren't allowed to watch," Trump said, adding, "You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things." More...

‘Folks are working to keep people from voting, especially communities of colour,’ says former president
James Crump

Former US president Barack Obama has accused the White House of suppressing black voters in a new campaign video for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. In the video, which has been shared with PBS before its release on The Shade Room, Mr Obama urges the US public to vote as early as possible for Mr Biden. “As you know, the election is coming up, and I’ve got just one word for you: vote,” the former president says. “Actually, I’ve got two: vote early.”

Without mentioning president Donald Trump by name, Mr Obama then adds: “Right now, from the White House on down, folks are working to keep people from voting, especially communities of colour. “That’s because there’s a lot at stake in this election. Not just our pandemic response or racial justice, but our democracy itself.” The campaign video was released a day after an investigation by Channel 4 News in the UK accused the president of seeking to deter more than 3.5 million black voters from heading to the polls in 2016’s presidential election.

His campaign has been accused of targeting African American voters in 16 battleground states with negative ads of Hillary Clinton, with the aim of deterring them from voting. Jamal Watkins, vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told Channel 4 that the organisation is troubled that there was allegedly an attempt to suppress black voters in 2016. More...


Russians and domestic political operatives use targeted social media messages to try to convince Black voters to stay home on Election Day. Subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications (🔔) so you don't miss any videos: According to a report by CNN, the federal government has warned that Russia "might seek to covertly discourage or suppress US voters from participating" in the upcoming election. If so, it would be a repeat of their tactics four years ago, when Russian operatives posing as Americans on social media discouraged Black Americans from voting or encouraged them to vote for the third-party candidate, Jill Stein. The Trump campaign itself pursued a strategy of vote suppression targeted at African Americans, who vote against Republicans at higher rates than any other demographic group. Video...

By Elise Viebeck

For six months, the rules for how Americans can vote during the coronavirus pandemic have been locked in court battles while states across the country rushed to embrace mail ballots. Now, with just weeks to go before the Nov. 3 election, voting rights advocates and Democrats have advanced on key fronts in the legal war, scoring victories that make mail voting easier, ensure votes cast by mail are counted and protect the wide distribution of mail ballots in some states.

A review by The Washington Post of nearly 90 state and federal voting lawsuits found that judges have been broadly skeptical as Republicans use claims of voter fraud to argue against such changes, declining to endorse the GOP’s arguments or dismissing them as they examined limits on mail voting. In no case did a judge back President Trump’s view — refuted by experts — that fraud is a problem significant enough to sway a presidential election. More...

*** Was Trump projecting when he said the election would be rigged; after all he is the one who is telling people to commit voter fraud by telling people to vote twice. Trump has destroyed the USPS to prevent people from voting mail and now wants to get rid of mail ballots? ***

By Rebecca Klar

Federal Election Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub on Wednesday said the U.S. does not “get rid of” ballots in response to comments made by President Trump as he refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses in November. “In case anyone is unclear on the concept, in the United States of America, we do not ‘get rid of’ ballots. We count them,” Weintraub, a Democrat, tweeted, in response to Trump’s comments. “Counting the ballots – *all* the ballots – is the way we determine who leads our country after our elections. The only way,” Weintraub added. More...

Despite the pandemic officials have placed tight restrictions on voting by mail, while students and minority groups face particular hurdles

Despite the pandemic officials have placed tight restrictions on voting by mail, while students and minority groups face particular hurdles. Cynthia Riley realized some voters might not wear face masks when she staffed Texas’s primary runoff elections in July. But she hadn’t predicted that her fellow election clerks and one of the judges in Plano, Texas, would refuse to don basic protective gear at the start of a 14-hour shift sitting shoulder-to-shoulder.

“I don’t have to wear a mask, and I’m not going to,” she remembers the Republican judge snapping at her. Riley, who has a chronic breathing problem, abandoned her post after maybe 30 minutes at the polls, though she didn’t do so thoughtlessly. She has worked elections since 2016, and she understands the difference the staff makes. “I just feel like it matters a lot who’s there,” she said. Things can happen, she said, if there aren’t clerks onsite who “are willing to open their mouth”.

coronavirus pandemic has threatened the democratic process ahead of the presidential election. But the situation is even more acute in Texas, where Republicans have long devised a tortuous system that actively disadvantages minority communities who would generally lean Democratic. Long lines, voter intimidation, voting machine malfunctions and other issues afflicted almost 278,000 Texans during the midterm election in 2018, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project. More...

Colorado secretary of state sues USPS over election mailers she says misleads state's voters
By Kelly Mena, Leslie Perrot and Kristen Holmes, CNN

(CNN) Colorado's secretary of state filed a lawsuit on Saturday against the US Postal Service, embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and other USPS officials over a pre-election mailer that includes information she says will mislead voters in the state. The pre-election mailers, meant to inform Americans about voting by mail, advise voters to request a vote-by-mail ballot at least 15 days before Election Day and to return the official ballot at least seven days before. Those guidelines, however, don't align with Colorado's election policies.

"These false statements will confuse Colorado voters, likely causing otherwise-eligible voters to wrongly believe that they may not participate in the upcoming election. This attempt at voter suppression violates the United States Constitution and federal statutes and must be stopped immediately," the complaint from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and filed in Federal District Court states. The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order to stop delivery of mailers that have yet to be delivered. More...

By Nikki Schwab, Senior U.s. Political Reporter For Dailymail.com

Top Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg - known for his prominent role in the 2000 Florida recount - wrote in The Washington Post that after four decades of looking for it, his party has found insufficient evidence of 'fraudulent double voting.'  'These are painful conclusions for me to reach,' Ginsberg wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday, pointing to the 38 years he spent in the 'GOP's legal trenches.' Ginsberg wrote that each presidential election day since 1984, he and other Republican lawyers would be staffing precincts looking for signs of fraud.

And they'd look closely, too, at how mail-in and absentee ballots were handled. Ginsberg pointed to a number of President Donald Trump's recent statements, including how the president called mail-in voting 'very dangerous,' that there is 'tremendous fraud involved and tremendous illegality.' And his boast that, 'the only way we can lose... is if cheating goes on.'  'The lack of evidence renders these claims unsustainable,' Ginsberg then wrote. 'The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud,' he continued. 'At most, there are isolated incidents - by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged.'

Ginsberg also pointed out that absentee and mail-in ballots are essentially the same thing. 'Different states use different labels for the same process,' the Republican lawyer wrote.  Trump has tried to differentiate between the two methods, as Democrats have pushed for widespread mail-in voting so Americans don't have to physically go to polling places on election day due to the pandemic.

Washington Post
Opinion by Benjamin L. Ginsberg

Benjamin L. Ginsberg practiced election law for 38 years. He co-chaired the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Legions of Republican lawyers have searched in vain over four decades for fraudulent double voting. At long last, they have a blatant example of a major politician urging his supporters to illegally vote twice. The only hitch is that the candidate is President Trump. The president, who has been arguing that our elections are “rigged” and “fraudulent,” last week instructed voters to act in a way that would fulfill that prophecy.

On Wednesday in North Carolina, he urged supporters to double vote, casting ballots at the polls even if they have already mailed in absentee ballots. A tweet claiming he meant only for people to check that their ballots had been received and counted sounded fine — until Trump renewed his original push on Thursday evening in Pennsylvania and again Friday at a telerally. The president’s actions — urging his followers to commit an illegal act and seeking to undermine confidence in the credibility of election results — are doubly wrong. They impose an obligation on his campaign and the Republican Party to reevaluate their position in the more than 40 voting cases they’re involved in around the country. These cases are part of a torrent of 2020 voting litigation that pits Republicans’ belief that election results won’t be credible without state law safeguards against Democrats’ charges that many such rules are onerous and designed to suppress the votes of qualified citizens inclined to vote Democratic. More...

Miles Parks, Stephen Fowler

Georgia's top election official sounded the alarm Tuesday because he said 1,000 people voted twice in the state's elections so far this year — although when pressed, he acknowledged he didn't know whether any of them did so intentionally. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, made the announcement in a press conference on Tuesday. He said the thousand voters turned in absentee ballots and then voted in person in the state's June primary, but provided few details apart from that. He said Georgia is in the midst of attempting to find out more about the cases.

"Every double voter will be investigated thoroughly," Raffensperger said, threatening felony prosecutions. "A double voter knows exactly what they are doing." It's not clear, however, that is actually the case. Raffensperger only mentioned one person his office knew of who deliberately went in person to a polling place for malign reasons after casting a ballot in the mail. Making sure a vote gets counted The number of voters in Georgia who used absentee ballots in the state's primary increased exponentially over previous years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. That included tens of thousands of people who have never before voted by mail. More...

By Robert Farley

Elections officials and voting experts say President Donald Trump gave bad advice when he encouraged mail-in voters to show up at polling places on Election Day and cast an in-person ballot if poll workers can’t confirm that their mail-in ballot was received. It is unnecessary, will likely cause long delays at polling places, and could be illegal. In many states, poll workers will not know whether a mail-in ballot has been received and accepted. Besides, voters in the vast majority of states can check the status of their mail-in ballot online. Even in states without online tracking systems, voters can call their local elections offices to check their ballot status. (See this spreadsheet for links to state tracking systems.) Also, some states accept and count ballots after Election Day if they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

A voter unsure if their ballot has been received would only be allowed a provisional ballot. Those ballots are counted after the election, and if it is determined that a mail-in vote was received from the same voter, the provisional ballot would be discarded. Trump raised eyebrows with comments in an interview with WECT TV6  in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Sept. 2. when he was asked if he had confidence in the estimated 600,000 votes that will be cast by mail-in ballot in the state.

By Dianne Gallagher, Caroline Kelly, Marshall Cohen and Brian Rokus, CNN

hey vote by mail they should also attempt to vote in person as a way to check that their vote is counted, which risks causing chaos at the polls and undermining confidence in the election. In a North Carolina "telerally" Friday night, which was later posted on Facebook, Trump spent the first few minutes of the call explaining in detail how he wanted his voters to vote. If they vote by mail, they should go to their polling place anyway to "see whether or not your mail-in vote has been tabulated or counted," Trump said, noting that if it's been counted, they won't be able to vote. It's a federal crime to vote twice in the same election, and it's also a felony in almost every state, including North Carolina.

Trump also addressed the possibility that a voter's mail-in ballot would be tabulated after they had voted in person. "If it has not been counted, vote -- which is every citizen's right to do -- you go and vote. You press the lever and vote. So if it hasn't been counted, if it doesn't show up, go and vote, and then, if your mail-in ballot arrives after you vote, which it shouldn't but possibly it could perhaps, that ballot will not be used or counted in that your vote has already been cast and tabulated, so this way you're guaranteed to have your vote count," Trump said. "So send it in. And then see and then vote and let's see what happens. You're now assured, though, that your very precious and important vote has been counted."

The call ratchets up Trump's previous insinuations that voters should cast ballots twice, which would be illegal. Such attempts would almost certainly be unsuccessful but could serve to further sow confusion about the election, which has already been upended by the coronavirus pandemic and unprecedented demand for mail-in voting.In a sign of how widely the President's message was sent, at least one voter in North Carolina heard the telerally after picking up an unsolicited phone call from an unknown number with a 704 area code.

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

(CNN) Michigan and North Carolina election officials reminded citizens Thursday that voting twice is illegal and they could be prosecuted after President Donald Trump encouraged voters to do so. The warnings come after Trump, while speaking to reporters Wednesday in Wilmington, North Carolina, encouraged voters to test the state's voting system when asked if he was confident in the state's mail-in voting system. Vote-by-mail has become a key issue in the lead up to the 2020 election as many states are resorting to an increase in voting by mail amid fears of spreading coronavirus at the polls. Trump, who has also questioned mail-in voting and spread false information about the practice leading to wide-spread fraud, said for people to send in their ballots and then go vote as well.

"Send them in strong, whether it's solicited or unsolicited. The absentees are fine. You have to work to get them, you know," Trump said. "And you send them in, but you go to vote. And if they haven't counted it, you can vote. So that's the way I feel," he said. Americans are only allowed to vote once during an election. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Thursday retweeted a news article about the President's remarks and wrote "don't try this at home." "Hey folks. Attorney General Nessel here-top law enforcement official in Michigan, for those keeping track. Don't try this at home. I will prosecute you," she tweeted. "Also, this might be a good time to remind people not to drink bleach," she added in reference to a moment earlier this year when Trump suggested sunlight and ingesting disinfectants could help cure coronavirus.

Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, also sent a message to North Carolina residents reminding them that voting twice is illegal and is a Class 1 felony in the state. "Attempting to vote twice in an election or soliciting someone to do so also is a violation of North Carolina law," Brinson Bell said in a statement, adding that there are procedures in place that prevent double voting. "Electronic pollbooks with information about who has already voted are used at every early voting site. If a voter tries to check in who has already voted, they will be prevented from voting a regular ballot." She added, "A voter will be offered a provisional ballot if they insist on voting, and this ballot will be researched after Election Day to determine whether it should be counted."

US president suggests people vote in person and by mail and if system works it will stop two votes

Donald Trump has suggested that people in the state of North Carolina should vote twice in the November election, once in person and once by mail, although doing so is a crime. “Let them send it in and let them go vote,” Trump said in an interview with WECT-TV in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Wednesday when asked about the security of mail-in votes. “And if the system is as good as they say it is then obviously they won’t be able to vote” in person.

Voting more than once in an election is illegal. “President Trump outrageously encouraged” North Carolinians “to break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election,” said the state attorney general, Josh Stein, in a tweet. “Make sure you vote, but do NOT vote twice! I will do everything in my power to make sure the will of the people is upheld in November.” *** Trump was right there will be voter fraud in the 2020 election he just did not tell you that he is the one who is going to commit it. ***

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is the election meddler-in-chief. In his latest assault on the integrity of November's vote, Trump denigrated mail-in voting and in a staggering moment, appeared to suggest North Carolinians should try to vote twice -- a potential crime -- to test its security. More evidence of meddling came earlier Wednesday with the news that Trump's Department of Homeland Security withheld an intelligence bulletin warning of a Russian plot to spread misinformation about Joe Biden's health, which mirrored the President's own attacks. The report, first revealed by ABC News, followed the Director of National Intelligence's decision to stop in-person lawmaker briefings about election interference -- a move Democrats say could shield foreign actors who want to help Trump.

If the story of the 2016 election was a broad meddling operation by a foreign power to favor Trump, the emerging story of the 2020 election increasingly appears to be an attempt by the President to use executive power to swing the election his way. There has never been a modern American election in which a President has so publicly and unashamedly tried to portray the sacred quadrennial exercise in democracy as corrupt.

An election that is already tainted
The President's effort to discredit the election is not limited to his false and frequent claims that mail-in voting -- a reassuring option for many voters amid a pandemic that has killed more than 185,000 Americans so far -- is stained by massive fraud. The President has warned that the election will be the most corrupt in US history and said, without evidence, that Americans may never know who won. He also threatened to send US attorneys and sheriffs to polling places to ensure there is no fraud, a tactic that would be construed as voter intimidation, especially among minority voters given grim historic echoes. *** Trump was right there will be voter fraud in the 2020 election he just did not tell you that he is the one who is going to commit it. ***

The president’s suggestion, which he framed as a way to test the security of elections systems, constituted the kind of voter fraud he has railed against.
By Maggie Haberman

President Trump on Wednesday suggested that people in North Carolina stress-test the security of their elections systems by voting twice — an act that constitutes the kind of voter fraud the president has railed against. Mr. Trump made the comment in a briefing with reporters, where he was asked about his faith in the state’s system for voting by mail, which is expected to be more expansive in the 2020 presidential election than in previous years because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr. Trump encouraged people to send in an absentee ballot and then go vote in person on Election Day. “Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” the president said. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote.” “That’s the way it is,” he added. “And that’s what they should do.” Voting twice in the same election is illegal. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion that people should vote twice is one he has discussed privately with aides in recent weeks amid concerns he is depressing turnout among his supporters by raising alarms about the security of mail-in voting. *** Trump was right there will be voter fraud in the 2020 election he just did not tell you that he is the one who is going to commit it. ***

Analysis by Maeve Reston, CNN

(CNN) There are already concerns about the integrity of the 2020 election with an intelligence official warning earlier this month that Russia, China and Iran are all seeking to interfere in the presidential contest this fall. The Trump administration created more fears about that possibility this weekend when, as first reported by CNN, it informed members of Congress that the intelligence chief will no longer brief them in person on election security issues. It was yet another attack by the Trump administration on democratic institutions and the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution, but also -- as one of the Senate's only two independent senators argued Saturday -- an insult to the American people.

On its own, the notification from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that the office would no longer brief Congress in person might seem like an esoteric issue to Americans who are struggling to return to normal life as the coronavirus pandemic continues its deadly rampage and millions of US workers have lost their jobs. But it was the latest in a long list of efforts by Trump and his administration to erode the checks on their power two months from Election Day -- efforts that have appeared to have one goal in common: ensuring that the President will be reelected in November.

The list is now too long to fit in one paragraph: The cuts to the US Postal Service at a time when many American want mail-in ballots to avoid getting sick at the polls; Trump's efforts to undermine faith in America's election system by claiming, without evidence, the increase in mail-in ballots will lead to a "rigged" presidential election; the Republican Party's use of the awesome power of the presidency to produce a propaganda-filled convention complete with pardons and the transformation of the South Lawn of the White House into a political arena; the bullying of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise its guidance on Covid-19 testing; the vow to produce a coronavirus vaccine this year despite concerns from scientists about that timeline, and the administration's recent exaggerations about the lifesaving benefits of convalescent plasma treatment as they announced an emergency authorization for its use.

'A slap in the face to the American people'
The President's explanation for the change to election security intelligence briefings Saturday sounded benign, as usual. While visiting Texas to survey the response to Hurricane Laura, he said Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe had eliminated the in-person briefings because he wanted to make sure that election security information "doesn't leak." Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, rejected that explanation as a rationale during an interview Saturday with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."

By Daily News Editorial Board

Without free and fair elections, the United States of America isn’t the United States of America. And this year, as a highly contagious virus rages, that means ensuring the Postal Service can get a massive influx of mail-in ballots from point A to point B and back. In their moment of deepest need, President Trump is doing his darndest to tie cinder blocks to the feet of our mail carriers, thereby disenfranchising untold thousands or millions of voters.

In May, Trump named a new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a major Republican fundraiser who, according to CNN, has conflicts of interest totaling tens of millions of dollars. DeJoy has instituted a series of dramatic changes that are radically slowing mail delivery. DeJoy says he’s cutting costs, but that can wait until after a November election more dependent than ever on the efficiency of the Postal Service. Meanwhile, Trump, like a mob boss running a protection racket, refuses to provide pre-election emergency funds to the USPS. He has cast absentee ballots himself, but he now tries to thwart any and all postal voting that might threaten his reelection.

Kevin Breuninger

Former President Barack Obama slammed President Donald Trump on Friday, accusing his administration of undermining the U.S. Postal Service and attempting to suppress votes during the coronavirus pandemic. “Everyone depends on the USPS. Seniors for their Social Security, veterans for their prescriptions, small businesses trying to keep their doors open,” Obama said on Twitter in a series of posts. “They can’t be collateral damage for an administration more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus.” Trump’s Democratic predecessor urged eligible voters in states with early-voting options to “do that now.” “The more votes in early, the less likely you’re going to see a last minute crunch, both at polling places and in states where mail-in ballots are permitted. Then tell everyone you know,” Obama said.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) Sometimes -- OK, a lot of times -- Donald Trump says the quiet part out loud. Like during an interview on Fox Business with Maria Bartiromo on Thursday morning when Trump flatly admitted the real reason why he is blocking the inclusion of any money for the United States Postal Service in a coronavirus relief bill in Congress. Here's exactly what he said: "They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money basically. They want $3.5 trillion -- billion dollars for the mail-in votes, OK, universal mail-in ballots, $3.5 trillion. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots... " ... Now, if we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail-in voting, they just can't have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing. Very interesting." Let's be very, very clear about what Trump is saying here.

1) Democrats want funding in a coronavirus relief bill for the Postal Service.

2) They want that money so that the USPS can adequately deal with what is expected to be a major surge in mail-in and absentee balloting due to concerns about in-person voting spreading Covid-19.

3) Trump refuses to give them that money -- or include it in any sort of deal -- because, without it, there won't be the ability for the people to cast more mail-in ballots, or -- and this is really important -- for election officials to effectively count them all.

So, yeah. (And that's putting aside the fact that in blocking the coronavirus bill because of the money allotted for the Postal Service, the President is blocking a whole lot of other things, including increased education funding and rent/mortgage assistance, that many people in the country badly need.) This is the President of the United States purposely trying to make it harder for votes to be counted. Why? Because he believes that mail-in balloting is ripe for fraud. The problem with that view is that it is simply not supported by any real data. While Trump likes to focus on 500,000 absentee ballot applications being sent with the wrong return address in Virginia recently, the truth of the matter is that while mistakes like that one can get made, there's just no evidence of widespread purposeful voting fraud.

In November, many swing state voters won’t get to cast a ballot. That’s by design.
Ari Berman

In February, Michelle Mackey, a 53-year-old Milwaukee resident, went to cast her ballot in a local primary for mayor and county executive. Mackey describes herself as an “avid voter” who participates regularly in state and national elections, and took part in voter registration drives in 2016. But when she arrived at her polling place at Washington High School, in the city’s Sherman Park neighborhood, which is predominantly Black, she said she was told there was no record of her registration. “I was mad as hell,” she recalled. She feared she had been purged from the voter rolls—and with good reason. Just before Christmas, she saw on the news that Wisconsin had identified 232,000 voters it claimed had moved and had been ordered to remove them from its registration lists within 30 days if they did not respond to a mailing. It’s not exactly clear why Mackey was told she was not registered to vote. Just in case, she’d come with her ID and electric bill. She was able to cast a ballot that day, and records show she was still in the poll book. But the whole experience left her upset. The state’s effort to remove voters, Mackey said, was “a slap in the face to minorities and people of color.” In Milwaukee, which is home to nearly two-thirds of the state’s Black population, one in eight registered voters was at risk of being purged. African American turnout in the city had already plummeted in 2016 after Republicans passed a voter ID law that, according to a Republican Senate aide’s sworn testimony, was aimed squarely at Milwaukee and other Democratic-leaning cities.

Lawmakers and voting rights experts say Election Day this week will likely mirror what happening during Georgia's primaries
By Chris Riotta

Kentucky lawmakers have warned the state was heading towards a disastrous primary election this week, as ballot problems, voter confusion and a severe shortage of polling places threatened to suppress turnout amid the coronavirus pandemic. State officials on both sides of the political aisle released a joint statement condemning US District Court Judge Charles Simpson’s ruling against a case that argued having just one polling site in most of the state’s 120 counties would result in voter suppression. “We believe the judge disregarded evidence from our expert witness that one location will suppress the vote, particularly among African Americans,” read the statement, co-authored by Jason Nemes, a Republican state representative, and Keisha Dorsey, a Democratic councilwoman for Louisville Metro. The lawmakers were both behind the lawsuit, which demanded an increase in statewide polling locations.

While Georgia state officials blamed local poll workers, voting rights advocates saw a continued pattern of voter suppression. It is a pattern Republicans seem determined to reproduce.
By The Rev. Dr. William Barber and Tom Steyer

Last week, as historic protests for racial justice grabbed the nation's attention, voters in some of Georgia's predominantly Black and poor precincts reported chaos, long lines and faulty machines at their polling places. While state officials blamed local poll workers, voting rights advocates saw a continued pattern of voter suppression by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. It is a pattern Republicans seem determined to reproduce. After Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California will mail absentee ballots to all registered voters this fall as a means of guaranteeing the right to vote during the coronavirus pandemic, the Republican National Committee sued, claiming that California's effort to protect voting rights opened the door to widespread fraud. Next week, voters head to the polls again, including in New York and Kentucky. The fight continues. Though voter suppression has been a quiet tool of Republican administrations for decades, opposition to an expansion of the franchise has become a clear talking point for the Republican Party in 2020. This assault on the franchise is an attack on the very idea of American democracy and its promise of equality for all.

By Griffin Connolly

Speaker Nancy Pelosi lit into Republicans on Thursday for the hours-long lines, broken voting machines, and understaffed polling places that plagued the primary elections in Georgia this week. "What we saw in Georgia the other day was shameful. It was either a disgrace of incompetence or a disgrace of intention to suppress the vote," Ms Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. With waits that dragged on for hours to cast a ballot, voting machines that did not work, inadequately trained staff, extended polling times, and widespread claims of voter suppression — all against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic — outside commenters have described Georgia’s primary election as “chaos” and a “hot mess." Predominantly minority counties were especially hard hit. "It looks like part of a pattern" of traditional GOP voter suppression in the state, Ms Pelosi said, adding that neglecting voting precincts in parts of the state with minority communities is "all part of the republican playbook because they're afraid of the voters. They're afraid of the vote." Georgia has been a hot spot in recent years for allegations that Republican leaders in the state have sought to suppress the black vote. In 2018, the Republican nominee for governor, then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, was in charge of running his own election against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams. Before the election, Mr Kemp's office wrongfully flagged more than 300,000 Georgia residents as ineligible to vote, and delayed the registrations of 53,000 voters without properly notifying them. Mr Kemp eventually won the election by less than 55,000 votes out of nearly 4m cast — a 2 per cent margin.

By Fredreka Schouten and Gregory Krieg, CNN

(CNN) The long lines. Poll locations not opening on time. Workers flummoxed by new voting machines. For Bobby Fuse, a long-time Democratic activist from Americus, Georgia, the chaos that gripped Tuesday's primary felt familiar -- and intentional. "It's the same game that we were fighting 50 years ago," said Fuse, a 68-year-old political strategist who attended his first civil rights march -- a protest against the arrest of four black women for standing to vote in the line reserved for white women -- as a 13-year-old in July 1965. "There's always some sneaky trick that's played," Fuse told CNN. "This time, they had a whole bunch of sneaky tricks." Tuesday's meltdown of the voting system in Georgia -- a potential presidential battleground in November -- has sparked widespread concerns about voter disenfranchisement and charges by activists that Republican state officials engaged in efforts to suppress the vote in predominantly African American communities. Civil rights groups and African American leaders, who have spent years fighting Georgia's restrictive voting laws, expressed concerns ahead of the primary over potential difficulties with new systems and equipment implemented by the state. By the time polls were scheduled to close and hours-long lines of voters continued their long wait to cast a ballot, those fears had been realized. The troubles in Georgia were most harshly felt in heavily African American counties in and around Atlanta, where some defective machines set off scrambles for provisional ballots, which were in short supply. There were also widespread cases of voters across the state reporting that their absentee ballots showed up late -- or not at all -- for a primary election twice-delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

By Don Winslow

Voting is an American citizen’s most basic and inalienable right, the absolute foundation of our republic. It’s simple – no fair election, no democracy. That’s just what this administration and its cohorts in too many states want – to kill our democracy by suppressing the vote. Sadly, one of those states is Georgia. Yesterday’s election was a disgraceful travesty. Impossibly long lines, inoperable machines, understaffed voting sites, unavailable absentee ballots and a myriad of other problems caused a chaotic, uncertain, and unfair election. To the surprise of no one, these problems were most acute for African-American voters. Whether it’s the deliberate culling of the voter rolls, as Governor Kemp did to steal the 2018 gubernatorial election from Stacey Abrams, or the blazing – and I think, deliberate – incompetence that was on brutal display in yesterday’s election, the intent is the same. The entrenched powers-that-be know that they will be defeated if all eligible voters get to cast their ballots. This is true in Georgia, it is true nation-wide. Kemp knows that, Barr knows that, and Trump knows that. They know they can’t win fairly, so they cheat. Let’s don’t be naïve – while there were problems voting in both traditionally Republican and Democratic precincts in Georgia, the worst problems were in areas where the majority of eligible voters were African-American. Voting in white precincts generally took minutes, in black districts it generally took hours.


OAKLAND, Calif. — The Republican Party has thrown its full weight behind challenging California’s move to a mail-ballot November election during the coronavirus pandemic. A lawsuit from the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party seeks to invalidate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order that county election officials mail every registered California voter a ballot. While Newsom and California election overseers have said the switch is necessary to balance public health with civic participation, opponents argue that Newsom has overstepped his authority. The lawsuit argues that Newsom exceeded the limits of his powers by not seeking the consent of the state Legislature, accusing him of a “brazen power grab” that “was not authorized by state law” and transgressing the Constitution. Republicans in California and nationally have battled efforts to expand remote balloting for the November election, warning that mail ballots increase the risk of voter fraud. President Donald Trump has amplified that critique, including a string of Memorial Day weekend tweets, and additionally bemoaned mail ballots on the grounds that they disproportionately benefit Democrats. - Voter suppression is voter fraud, republicans have to suppress the vote to win. - Republicans cannot win if we everyone votes so the cheat by suppressing your votes. Republicans are full of you know.

A Missouri initiative would undo voters’ preference for nonpartisan legislative districts — and perhaps shift representation itself.
By David Daley

When Karl Rove laid out the Republican plan to win back power by weaponizing redistricting in a March 2010 op-ed, Democrats failed to pay proper attention. The vision set forth — called Redmap, short for the Redistricting Majority Project — proved simple yet revolutionary: In most states, legislatures control the decennial redistricting that follows the census. So in November 2010, Republicans invested tens of millions of dollars in these ordinarily sleepy local races and swept elections. Through gerrymandering, they drew themselves huge advantages in Congress and state capitals, firewalls that have allowed Republicans in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan and elsewhere to survive wave elections in which Democratic state legislative candidates won hundreds of thousands more votes. It’s a census-year election again, and this time both sides understand the stakes. Democrats know down-ballot elections this fall are the last opportunity to close the redistricting gap before next decade’s maps are drawn. Republicans appear to have a different strategy for 2020 — subtler, more technical and instructed by successful legal challenges that overturned Republican-drawn maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. Last week, Republicans in Missouri presented a dress rehearsal of this plan. If left unchallenged, it could once again dye many states red for a decade or more. In 2018, nonpartisan movements in five states, including Missouri, won redistricting reform via ballot initiative. (Oregon, Oklahoma and Arkansas are attempting to follow suit.) So last week, Missouri lawmakers looked to dismantle the initiative — called Clean Missouri and supported by 62 percent of the state’s voters — that would have taken mapmaking authority away from politicians and handed it to a nonpartisan state demographer. If Republicans have their way, that demographer won’t draw a single line and control over maps will be returned to a commission of party insiders.

But the GOP has plenty more tricks up its sleeve.
By Ian Millhiser

Wisconsin’s April 7 election could have been a disaster for voting rights. Election officials received four or five times more absentee ballot requests than they normally do in a spring election. Milwaukee closed all but five of its 180 polling locations, in large part because it struggled to find poll workers during a pandemic. And, on top of all that, Republicans in the state legislature, on the state Supreme Court, and on the Supreme Court of the United States all thwarted efforts to make sure voters would not be disenfranchised by the unique challenges presented by an election held when most voters were stuck at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Yet a report by the Wisconsin Elections Commission suggests the election went much better than it could have. The overwhelming majority of voters who wanted to vote absentee were able to do so. And it is likely that only a small percentage of voters were disenfranchised by a US Supreme Court decision backing the Republican Party’s effort to make it harder to cast a ballot. The report, in other words, suggests that a sophisticated and multi-front effort by Republicans to prevent many Wisconsinites from casting a ballot achieved very limited results. That’s not a reason for voting rights advocates to relax. Turnout is likely to be much higher in the November general election than it was in Wisconsin’s spring election, so election officials could still be overwhelmed by ballot requests in November. Republicans also have a $20 million legal war chest that they can use to obtain court orders limiting the franchise.

Lawmakers are sending a new ballot proposal that would undo 2018 protections against manipulation of electoral maps
The fight to vote is supported by guardian.org
By Sam Levine

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, Missouri Republicans are seeking to undo a recent effort to make electoral districts in the state legislature more fair. Lawmakers are trying to gut a referendum voters embraced in 2018 that sought to prevent excessive gerrymandering, a process of manipulating electoral maps that Republicans have used to gain advantages throughout the country this decade. The 2018 measure, approved by 62% of Missouri voters, put a non-partisan demographer in charge of drawing districts, limiting partisan influence on the process. It also makes partisan fairness one of the top criteria the mapmaker must follow. It would likely weaken Republican control of the legislature, according to an Associated Press analysis. Now, Republicans are on the verge of sending a new ballot proposal to voters that would undo those protections. Their plan would eliminate the non-partisan demographer and return redistricting power to committees nominated by the political parties and selected by the governor. It makes partisan fairness the least important criteria to follow when drawing maps, instead prioritizing keeping communities compact. The proposal also makes it harder to get a gerrymandered map struck down in court. “The substance of what they’re trying to do has already been outrageous, and it’s incredible that they’re trying to move this attempt to overturn the will of the voters, when voters literally can’t participate in the process,” said Sean Soendker Nicholson, the campaign manager for Clean Missouri, the group behind the gerrymandering reform measure. The measure has already passed the state senate, and is awaiting a vote in the full House. If approved by 15 May, voters across the state would then choose whether to support it later this year. It is likely the last chance Republicans, who control the state legislature, have to undo the referendum before the once-a-decade redistricting takes place in 2021. If Republicans succeed, advocates worry it could serve as a model for weakening gerrymandering reform elsewhere. Voters in Michigan, Colorado and Utah all used ballot measures to pass gerrymandering reform in 2018. “If this moves forward in Missouri, we are a testing ground for them to be able to implement these systems elsewhere,” said Peter Merideth, a Democrat who represents St Louis in the state house. There is also deep concern the Republican proposal will open the door to redistricting in a way that will disadvantage minorities and non-citizens.

By Lawrence Douglas

Should I vote or should I protect my health? That was the stark choice that Wisconsin voters faced on Tuesday – thanks to their elected state representatives. Like much of the rest of the nation, Wisconsin is under a statewide stay-at-home order. The order is designed to slow the spread of a disease that has already sickened nearly half a million Americans and taken the lives of 13,000. Given the gravity of the threat, the mayors of Wisconsin’s 10 largest cities urged the state to delay the Tuesday election – lest the state put “hundreds of thousands of citizens at risk by requiring them to vote at the polls while this ugly pandemic spreads”. Nearly a dozen other states had already chosen to postpone their primaries given the national state of emergency. Invoking his emergency powers, the state’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, likewise sought to delay the election until early June. But Wisconsin said no. In a decision staggering in its cynicism and recklessness, the Republican-controlled state legislature flatly refused to delay the election. What did they hope to gain? Yes, there was the Democratic primary, but that was of little concern to the Republican lawmakers. Of great concern, however, was Tuesday’s vote in a state supreme court contest. This vote pitted the sitting state supreme court justice Daniel Kelly, a strong conservative voice on the bench, against Jill Karofsky, a lower court judge supported by progressives. Never mind that America is alone among advanced democracies in permitting many state judges to be elected officials. In this case, Republican lawmakers hoped that by suppressing the urban vote, they would help Kelly’s re-election bid. This, in itself, was nothing new; suppressing the vote of urban and minority citizens has emerged as staple of Republican politics in recent years. Unusual here was only the brazen willingness to use a pandemic – rather, than say, voter IDs – as the means of suppression. And so Republican lawmakers forced urban voters into a Hobson’s choice: head to one of the few available polling stations – in Milwaukee only five of 180 designated polling stations were open – and risk exposure to Covid-19, or follow the state’s stay-at-home order. Still, much of the chaos and hardship could have been avoided had the state chosen to rely more heavily on absentee ballots. Such ballots permit citizens to vote by mail, and so Wisconsin voters could have had their voice heard without sacrificing their health. But here again Republican lawmakers said no, racing to the US supreme court to bar an extended reliance on absentee ballots.

By Sam Levine

The state’s holding of a primary during a pandemic is just the latest example of Republicans’ naked bid to keep power at all costs. Less than 72 hours before polls opened in Wisconsin on 7 April, the state legislature convened to weigh an emergency request from the governor, Tony Evers. With Covid-19 cases in the thousands, Evers implored the lawmakers to delay in-person voting for the state’s presidential primary and mail a ballot to every voter in the state. It was a meeting only in name. Republicans, who control 63 of 99 seats in the state assembly, sent just one member. He brought the session to order and then immediately ended it without taking up the governor’s request. It took just 17 seconds. In the Republican-controlled state senate, the same thing happened, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It took even less time. The legislature’s defiance was a naked display of unabashed power – an elected body refusing its governor’s request and turning its back on its constituents in a time of crisis. The Republican lawmakers who didn’t even bother to show up for the emergency session on Saturday knew that their re-election was guaranteed because of a successful party effort over the last 10 years to entrench themselves in power. Even in a state at the center of some of the most hard-nosed fights over voting, it was a stunning series of events. That assault on democracy began in 2011, when Republicans drew new lines for political districts in Wisconsin. It was part of a national Republican effort, called Project Redmap, to capture state legislatures and, with those victories, to gain control over redrawing the lines of each district. The goal of Redmap was to conjure districts that would advantage Republicans and disadvantage Democrats – a process called gerrymandering. The writer and author David Daley called Project Redmap “the most audacious political heist of modern times”. Karl Rove, former senior adviser to George W Bush announced the redistricting effort in the Wall Street Journal, claiming, rightly, that whoever controls redistricting also controls Congress. Later, according to the New Yorker, when Rove addressed potential funders of Redmap in Dallas, he said “People call us a vast rightwing conspiracy. But we’re really a half-assed rightwing conspiracy. Now it’s time to get serious.” For $1.1m – a small sum in campaign dollars – Republicans won the state legislature and went on to curb Democratic power by passing a strict voter ID law, making it harder for minorities and students to vote, and later stripped statewide elected officials of some of their authority. “I don’t think many people who are aware of what’s going on, and are tuned into politics and government in this state, would say that it’s anything even resembling a democracy,” said Jay Heck, the executive director of the Wisconsin chapter of Common Cause, a government watchdog group.

Because racism.
By Mark Joseph Stern

The national conversation around voting rights is deeply skewed. Republican lawmakers and operatives openly endorse disenfranchisement; they brag when their attacks on suffrage succeed; and they work feverishly to rig redistricting in favor of white people. But all too often, judges refuse to acknowledge the racism of voter suppression laws, dancing around the purpose of these measures. Only rarely will a court admit what every reasonable observer should already know: The disproportionate impact of these laws on minority voters is no coincidence; it is exactly what legislators intended. It is refreshing, then, that on Monday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not tiptoe around the bald facts: Arizona Republicans’ recent crackdown on voting rights was motivated by racism. The court invalidated a law that was plainly designed to stop Native American, Hispanic, and black voters from casting a ballot—not just because it happened to burden minorities more than whites, but because it is flat-out racist. Arizona’s “long history of race-based voting discrimination,” combined with legislators’ “false, race-based” claims of voter fraud “unmistakably reveal” an intent to discriminate on the basis of race, the 9th Circuit announced. The Supreme Court’s conservative justices may well reverse the ruling. But the 9th Circuit will at least force SCOTUS to confront the reality that white supremacy remains a driving force in Republicans’ assault on the franchise, despite Chief Justice John Roberts’ declaration that racism is a historical relic.

Democrats in the key 2020 state are fighting the effort to slash the registration rolls in court.
By Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — A conservative law firm on Thursday asked a judge to find the Wisconsin Elections Commission in contempt and impose $12,000 a day in fines until it immediately purges more than 200,000 voters from the rolls, a move Democrats are fighting in the key battleground state. A judge last month ordered the purge of voters who may have moved and didn't respond within 30 days to notification sent by the elections commission in October. The bipartisan commission has deadlocked twice on attempts by Republicans to do the purge immediately while an appeal to the court order is pending. Rick Esenberg, leader of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty that brought the lawsuit, said the commission must purge the voters now. The judge in December ruled that the commission was breaking state law by not removing voters who did not respond to the October mailing asking that they confirm their address.

By Hannah Knowles

Georgia does not have to reinstate almost 100,000 voters removed from its rolls this month, a federal judge ruled Friday, backing the state over activists who said the purge violates people’s rights.

The decision is a victory for officials who called the removals routine and a blow to voting rights advocates who worry that such purges will disenfranchise Democratic-leaning low-income voters, young people and people of color. Georgia’s recent removal of more than 300,000 voters has launched a fight over registrations in a state where last year’s tight race for governor led to allegations of voter suppression and an investigation in Congress.

A group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost the gubernatorial race, has sought to undo much of the latest purge, which came days after a judge backed cutting as many as 234,000 voters in Wisconsin, another state that will be closely watched in 2020. Abrams’s group, Fair Fight Action, argues that 98,000 voters who were cut should have stayed on the rolls for longer under a change this year to state law that extends the process leading up to a voter’s removal. It also contends that Georgia has violated the Constitution by removing voters over-zealously for inactivity, echoing others around the country concerned by “use it or lose it” policies.

Opinion by Ben Wikler

(CNN) Last week, a judge appointed by a Republican governor used an extreme and malicious interpretation of a Wisconsin state voting law to throw roughly 234,000 state voters off the rolls. The decision on a case brought by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, concerns a state law that requires the Wisconsin Elections Commission to keep voting rolls up to date. Under the law, the Commission sends letters to voters suspected of having moved based on "reliable information." Those who don't respond within 30 days are then purged from the rolls.

The legal dispute is over what constitutes "reliable information." In this case, the data is from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a useful but imperfect tool to compare voter registrations across states. The commission planned to spend the next 12 to 24 months assessing individual cases to gather enough "reliable information" on whether they had indeed moved. But the lawsuit demanded that the Commission not double-check, and simply de-register every voter flagged by ERIC. The judge agreed. The Wisconsin Department of Justice has already filed an appeal on behalf of the Commission.

That's how, by undermining what constitutes "reliable information," conservatives obtained a ruling that disproportionately targets Democratic voters and throws up needless barriers to voting in next year's presidential election in a state that President Donald Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. This voter purge is a barely disguised ploy to rig our democracy and win the 2020 election. It comes on the heels of remarks made by a top reelection adviser for Trump to fellow Republicans in Wisconsin, who said that "traditionally it's always been Republicans suppressing votes in places." (The adviser later said his remarks were taken out of context.) It's part of a broader conservative playbook being implemented across the country in which the goal is not to win democratic elections but to destroy democracy in order to win elections.

By Kat Tenbarge

One of President Donald Trump's top re-election advisers told a group of influential Wisconsin Republicans that voter suppression is "traditionally" part of the party's election strategy in battleground states, the Associated Press reports. Now, Justin Clark, an attorney and one of Trump's senior political advisers, says he was referring to the historic, false accusations that the Republican Party suppresses votes to win elections.

At a November 21 event meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Association's Wisconsin chapter, Clark spoke for about 20 minutes, and the speech was recorded by a liberal advocacy group and provided to the AP. "Traditionally it's always been Republicans suppressing votes in places," Clark told the group, which included Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and the executive director of the state's Republican party.

"Let's start protecting our voters," he continued, partly referring to Election Day monitoring of polling places. "We know where they are [...] Let's start playing offense a little bit. That's what you're going to see in 2020. It's going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program."

Justin Clark was recorded at a private event saying: “That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program.”
By Scott Bauer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — One of President Donald Trump’s top re-election advisers told influential Republicans in swing state Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states but will be able to “start playing offense” in 2020 due to relaxed Election Day rules, according to an audio recording of a private event obtained by The Associated Press.

“Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” Justin Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s re-election campaign, said at the event. “Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are. ... Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”

‘We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.’
by Ankita Rao, voting rights editor in New York, Pat Dillon in Madison, Wisconsin, Kim Kelly in Philadelphia, and Zak Bennett in Miami Beach, Florida

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Martin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls. Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time. Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

By Victoria Bekiempis

A Wisconsin judge’s order to boot more than 200,000 people from voter rolls in the battleground state spurred condemnation from Democrats, amid claims of voter suppression. If the decision stands, it could have an impact on the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes. Subsequent contests have also returned tight margins.

“I won the race for governor by less than 30,000 votes,” tweeted Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat who beat the former Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker last year. “This move pushed by Republicans to remove 200,000 Wisconsinites from the voter rolls is just another attempt at overriding the will of the people and stifling the democratic process.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and we should be making it easier for folks to vote, not harder. It’s time for Republicans to move on from the election we had more than a year ago and start working on the pressing issues facing our state.” According to the Journal Sentinel, the cities of Milwaukee and Madison – Democratic strongholds – are home to 14% of the state’s registered voters but received 23% of letters sent out. Fifty-five percent of the mailings, meanwhile, went to areas where Hillary Clinton beat Trump.

‘They are kids voting liberal,’ a New Hampshire Republican said in 2011 as legal battle over student voting in the state continues

Maggie Flaherty grew up in a small town in California, but after she moved to New Hampshire to attend Dartmouth College, she registered to vote in the state where she would be spending at least four years. Now she is embroiled in a fight against Republicans in the state that is being watched across the country. Flaherty and a fellow student are challenging a Republican-backed law that is making it harder for many out-of-state students and other temporary residents to cast a ballot in a state with outsized national influence.

The lawsuit has been endorsed by the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential hopefuls. But last week, Flaherty and her colleague Caroline Casey hit another obstacle when the US district judge Joseph LaPlante denied a request to block the law just months before the primary elections.

New Hampshire is a small swing state where both local and state-wide races can be decided by razor-thin margins. Donald Trump lost the state to Hillary Clinton by just 2,736 votes in 2016. The same year, Maggie Hassan, also a Democrat, defeated Kelly Ayotte for a Senate seat by just 1,017 votes. The Democratic primary in February and general election in November are expected to be closely fought.

When they aren’t held back by racist redistricting tactics, Democrats can actually win.
By Mark Joseph Stern

In November 2017, a blue wave crashed down upon Virginia, as Democrats won the statewide vote by nearly 10 points. They failed, however, to seize control of the House of Delegates, which came down to a single tied race that was resolved by the elections board drawing the Republican’s name from a bowl and declaring him the winner.

On Tuesday, that Republican lost his seat, one of six that Democrats flipped to capture a majority the House of Delegates. Democratic candidates appear to have won the overall House vote once again–but this time, they gained a 55–45 majority. (They also won over the state Senate, 21–19, which holds elections every four years.) This turn of fortune reveals the impact of fair maps. In 2017, Democrats were severely disadvantaged by a Republican-drawn racial gerrymander that trapped a huge number of black voters in a handful of noncompetitive districts for nearly a decade. By 2019, that gerrymander was dead, killed off by the courts. And its demise has allowed Virginia Democrats to translate their votes into fair representation in the General Assembly, gaining full control of the state government for the first time since 1994.

Virginia’s gerrymander had its roots in the 2009 election. Republicans swept the state that year, winning both chambers of the Legislature as well as the governorship. (The election presaged the GOP conquest of state legislatures in time for the next redistricting cycle, masterminded by Virginia’s Ed Gillespie.) After the 2010 census, the GOP-controlled General Assembly passed—and Gov. Bob McDonnell approved—maps that divvied up the state on the basis of race. Most minority voters were packed into heavily black Democratic districts; the rest were scattered through predominantly white Republican districts. The House map was the worse of the two, blatantly relying upon “blue sinks” to siphon off votes from districts that might otherwise have proved competitive.

In 2014, Virginia voters filed a lawsuit alleging that 12 House districts had been drawn along racial lines, in violation of the equal protection clause. Four years later, a federal district court invalidated 11 of the 12 districts, agreeing that they amounted to an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. The court appointed a special master to redraw the illegal districts. But, of course, fixing a handful of districts creates a ripple effect that requires more lines to be redrawn to maintain equal population. The court wound up adopting a remedial map that altered 25 districts, eliminating several safe GOP seats and generating more competitive races. Attorney General Mark Herring declined to appeal the decision, leaving the House to step in—but in June, the Supreme Court ruled that the House lacked standing to represent the state. The new maps won out. Full Story

Advocacy groups worry efforts to purge voters are targeted attacks to suppress legal access to ballot
By Clark Mindock

A planned purge of 300,000 names from voting rolls in Georgia has advocates concerned that efforts to slash access to the ballot could re-emerge as a major issue heading into 2020. The purge was announced this past week by officials in the state, who cast the effort as a routine part of ensuring that voting rolls are up to date, and that individuals who have died or moved away are no longer capable of voting in the state. The figure amounts to roughly 4 per cent of the registered voters in the state, which gained notoriety for alleged voter intimidation in 2018 that may have directly impacted the results of the governor’s race.

This is “a routine process that every state does,” said Walter Jones, a spokesman for the Georgia secretary of state’s voter education programme. Voters identified by the purge will now receive a letter to their last known address, and must respond using one of several forms of communication to ensure they remain on the ballot. Mr Jones claimed that these purges have occurred for years, and that they are overseen by Democratic and Republican establishments. But advocates are wary of the efforts, especially after the 2018 election in which now-governor Brian Kemp beat out Democrat Stacey Abrams by 1.4 per cent of the vote – a slim margin in the state. Full Story

The ruling said that the maps were "drawn in violation of our North Carolina Constitution."
By Pete Williams

North Carolina cannot use the existing maps for its congressional districts in next year's elections, a state court ruled late Monday, declaring them to be invalid partisan gerrymanders. The ruling was a victory for state Democrats who lost a battle when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that such challenges were beyond the authority of federal courts to referee. So the fight resumed in state court, citing violations of North Carolina's constitution. A three-judge panel of state judges issued an order Monday barring state officials from using the current map for the coming elections, including the March presidential primary. The panel stopped short of ordering the legislature to draw new maps but said disruptions could be avoided "should the General Assembly, on its own initiative, act immediately and will all due haste to enact new congressional districts." The ruling said delaying the primary could reduce voter turnout and increase the cost of the election. But it said, "those consequences pale in comparison to voters of our state proceeding to vote, yet again, in congressional elections administered pursuant to maps drawn in violation of our North Carolina Constitution." more...

The legal threat against independent redistricting commissions, explained.
By Richard L. Hasen

Reformers hoping to rein in partisan gerrymandering have a big idea that’s caught on in several states: handing the redistricting power over to an independent commission, rather than politicians in the legislature, as Michigan’s electorate voted to do last year. But now, Michigan Republicans have filed a lawsuit to try and strike that commission down. And they’re using a longshot legal argument that could put similar bodies in other states at risk, too, with serious implications for the next round of state and congressional redistricting after the 2020 Census. Back in June, the Supreme Court in Rucho v. Common Cause held that federal courts could not get involved in policing partisan gerrymandering under the United States Constitution because there were no “judicially manageable” standards to separate out permissible from impermissible consideration of political party in drawing district lines. So the Court upheld egregious gerrymanders helping Republicans in North Carolina and Democrats in Maryland. Reformers hoping the courts would block legislators from drawing overly partisan maps were despondent after the Rucho ruling. After all, state legislators are not apt to redistrict themselves out of a job. But Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the Court, pointed to Congress, state supreme courts, and state redistricting commissions as potential other avenues for dealing with the problem of state legislatures drawing districts to benefit themselves and their party. more...

By Mark Joseph Stern

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2019’s Rucho v. Common Cause was a painful setback for voting rights advocates. By a 5–4 vote, SCOTUS slammed the federal courthouse door on partisan gerrymandering claims, ruling that they cannot be brought under the U.S. Constitution. But Rucho had a silver lining in Justice Elena Kagan’s powerful dissent, which showed state judges how to kill off the practice under their own constitutions. Her dissent served as a blueprint for the North Carolina court that invalidated the state’s legislative gerrymander on Tuesday. That decision charts a path forward for opponents of political redistricting. Every state constitution protects the right to vote or participate equally in elections, and state courts can take up Kagan’s call to arms to enforce those protections under state law. The brilliance of Kagan’s dissent lay in its clarity: She laid out the precise harms inflicted by partisan gerrymandering and explained how they can be measured and remedied. Kagan identified two distinct but intertwined constitutional violations: Warped maps “reduce the weight of certain citizens’ votes,” depriving them of the ability to participate equally in elections; they also punish voters for their political expression and association. These dual injuries, Kagan concluded, implicate fundamental principles of both equal protection and freedom of speech.

A North Carolina judicial panel rejected state legislative district maps Tuesday, saying legislators took extreme advantage in drawing voting districts to help elect a maximum number of Republican lawmakers. The judges gave lawmakers two weeks to try again. The three-judge panel of state trial judges unanimously ruled that courts can step in to decide when partisan advantage goes so far it diminishes democracy. Their ruling comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June in a separate case involving North Carolina's congressional map that it's not the job of federal courts to decide if boundaries are politically unfair — though state courts could consider whether gerrymandering stands up under state laws and constitutions. The state judges found that the way the majority-Republican General Assembly redrew legislative district maps in 2017 violated the rights of Democratic voters under the state constitution's equal protection and freedom of assembly clauses.

US election jurisdictions with histories of egregious voter discrimination have been purging voter rolls at a rate 40% beyond the national average, according to a watchdog report released Thursday. Activists say new Tennessee law aims to suppress African American votes At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice. The number was basically unchanged from the previous two-year period. While the rate of voter purges elsewhere has declined slowly, jurisdictions released from federal oversight by a watershed 2013 supreme court ruling had purge rates “significantly higher” than jurisdictions not previously subjected to oversight, the Brennan Center found in a previous report. That trend has continued, the watchdog said, with the disproportionate purging of voters resulting in an estimated 1.1 million fewer voters between 2016 and 2018. Voter purges accelerated in the United States with the 2013 Shelby County v Holder ruling, which released counties with histories of voter discrimination from federal oversight imposed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The voting rights act barred jurisdictions with “evidence of actual voting discrimination” – for example registration tests and a voter rate at least 12% below the national average – from changing their voting procedures without “pre-clearance” from federal authorities. In Shelby county, the supreme court declared that “nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically” and released the so-called section 5 jurisdictions from oversight. Chief justice John Roberts wrote that “the tests and devices that blocked ballot access have been forbidden nationwide for over 40 years”. But the ruling was criticized for apparent blindness to contemporary voter suppression practices including strict voter identification laws, partisan gerrymandering, and aggressive voter purges.

By Reid Wilson

State and local election offices have purged more than 30 million voters from registration rolls in the past five years, according to a new report — and the number may be far higher. The report from the Brennan Center for Justice found election officials removed at least 17 million voters from the rolls between 2016 and 2018, on top of the 16 million registrations that were canceled between 2014 and 2016. States routinely clean up voter lists and cancel registrations either because those voters moved to another state, died or have gone for long periods of time without casting a ballot. But there are signs that some elections officials — particularly in areas with long histories of discrimination against minority voters — are acting more aggressively than others. In a 2013 case known as Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required counties or states with histories of discrimination to submit any proposed changes to voting rules or procedures to the federal Justice Department or a federal court, a process known as "preclearance."

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) - On Thursday, the Supreme Court showed how much difference who wins the presidency makes.
Armed with a five to four conservative majority thanks to President Donald Trump's appointment of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh over the past two years, the Supreme Court said it had no role to play in partisan gerrymandering -- a decision that amounts to a massive political victory for Republicans, not just in the moment, but also likely for the next decade-plus. While the court didn't give Republicans everything they wanted on Thursday -- rejecting the addition of a citizenship question to the census that the Trump administration had pushed for -- the ruling on line-drawing with political concerns as a primary motivation is an absolute game-changer for a party that has already reaped the considerable rewards of its ongoing domination at the state legislative level. What SCOTUS said Thursday was, essentially, if state legislators want to draw the lines of their own districts and those of their members of Congress using political calculations, it's not the court's job to stop them. That state legislatures are given that power and can exert it as they see fit. On its face, this ruling impacts both parties equally. After all, both parties have shown a willingness over the last several decades to push their partisan advantage in the decennial line-drawing process. And the cases on which the court ruled on Thursday involved one Democratic gerrymander (Maryland) and one Republican one (North Carolina). But, to see things through that this-hurts-both-sides-equally frame is to miss the forest for the trees. Thanks to avalanche elections in their favor in 2010 and 2014, Republicans have an absolute stranglehold on the state governments. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans currently have full control over 30 of the 49 partisan legislatures in the country. (Nebraska has a unicameral legislature where members are elected on a nonpartisan basis.) In 22 states, Republicans not only control both chambers of the state legislature but also hold the governorship -- giving them total control over state government. (Democrats have total control in 14 states while control is divided between the parties in 13 states.)

By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter

Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court said Thursday that federal courts must stay out of disputes over when politicians go too far in drawing district lines for partisan gain -- a dramatic and sweeping ruling that could fundamentally affect the balance of power in state legislatures and Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5-4 decision for the conservative majority. "Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust. But the fact that such gerrymandering is 'incompatible with democratic principles' ... does not mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary," he wrote. "We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts," Roberts added. "Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions." Justice Elena Kagan read a scathing dissent from the bench for the four liberals. "(G)errymandering is, as so many Justices have emphasized before, anti-democratic in the most profound sense," Kagan wrote. "Of all times to abandon the Court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one," Kagan said. "The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court's role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections. With respect but deep sadness, I dissent." Roberts said he believes this ruling does not mean there cannot be limits on partisan gerrymandering.

It raises new questions about what else the Trump administration is hiding.
By Zack Ford

A former top adviser to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed the secretary lied about his intentions for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to House testimony made public on Tuesday. The Trump administration has blocked many of its officials from answering questions for House Democratic investigations. James Uthmeier, who served as senior adviser and counsel to Ross, appeared before the House Oversight Committee earlier this month and refused to answer more than 100 questions. Still, he “confirmed key information” about the changes to the census, according to Democratic members of the committee. His testimony informs the committee’s recent recommendation for contempt charges against Ross and Attorney General William Barr. As a new U.S. Census Bureau report explains, including a question on citizenship status in the census could result in as many as 9 million people not being counted as living in the United States. This undercount would largely impact racial minorities who fear that disclosing their status could lead to their deportation or that of friends, family members, and neighbors. Because the census determines redistricting for congressional representation, the resulting erasure would drastically benefit Republicans in the next decade of elections.

By Robert Barnes

The Supreme Court dismissed the challenge to a lower court’s findings that some of Virginia’s legislative districts were racially gerrymandered, saying Monday that House Republicans did not have legal standing to challenge the decision. The decision could give an advantage to the state’s Democrats. All 140 seats in the legislature are on the ballot this fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in both the House (51 to 49) and the Senate (21 to 19). Democrats have been hoping that a wave of successes in recent Virginia elections will propel them to control of the legislature for the first time since 1995. The party that controls the General Assembly in 2021 will oversee the next statewide re­districting effort, following next year’s census — potentially cementing an advantage in future elections.

By jonathan drew, associated press

Voting rights activists argue that newly discovered 2015 correspondence between a GOP redistricting expert and a current Census Bureau official bolster arguments that discrimination motivated efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 population survey. The plaintiffs, who successfully challenged the question in a Maryland federal court, said in a filing late Friday that the email exchange between the late Republican consultant Thomas Hofeller and the Census Bureau official was discovered earlier this week. They say the documents give a federal judge, who previously ruled in their favor, latitude to re-examine whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross intended to discriminate against minorities by adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census. While U.S. District Judge George Hazel issued a ruling in April to block the addition of the census question, he said the Maryland plaintiffs failed to prove that their equal protection rights were violated because they hadn't shown that Ross and other officials acted with discriminatory intent. Plaintiffs, citing the new documents, say the judge should reconsider on the equal protection question. "The trial record and the Hofeller documents both reveal that the central purpose of adding a citizenship question was to deprive Hispanics and noncitizens of political representation," the plaintiffs argue, adding that the evidence "explains precisely why Secretary Ross pressed ahead with adding the citizenship question in the face of ... evidence that it would cause a disproportionate undercount of noncitizens and Hispanics."

Donald Trump is citing unsubstantiated urban myths and a contested academic study to paint a false narrative about rampant voter fraud in the U.S. and the likelihood of a “rigged” election. But a subsequent review by the State Election Commission found no evidence of fraud and that mostly the cases were clerical errors.

By Danielle McLean

His secretary of state resigned last week, but it was Gov. Greg Abbott who was behind the purge, news reports said. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) led the effort to purge thousands of voters from state election rolls, according to electronic correspondence made public on Tuesday. The revelation comes in the wake of last week’s resignation by Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, who widely was believed to have been responsible for the aggressive voter suppression efforts. However, the release of the emails revealed that the state began rolling out the program months before Whitley was appointed to office in December, and that the disgraced former secretary of state had “nothing to do with the program,” said Luis Vera, general counsel of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “This was Gov. Abbott’s program. He started it with [Attorney General] Ken Paxton, and he did this thinking they were going to pull off a stunt and they got caught with their pants down,” Vera told ThinkProgress. “They are all a bunch of racist pigs,” Vera added. “Greg Abbott wants a white America. End of story.”

A three-judge federal panel unanimously ruled Friday that Ohio’s gerrymandered congressional district map is unconstitutional, and ordered the creation of a new map in time for the 2020 election. This is the latest in a series of decisions across the country striking down partisan maps, including in neighboring Michigan and Pennsylvania. Plus, Supreme Court rulings are pending for cases out of North Carolina and Maryland.

State legislature gets Aug. 1 deadline to enact new maps for 2020. A three-judge panel on Thursday ruled that Michigan must use new congressional and legislative maps in 2020, potentially setting up a more favorable battlefield for House Democrats, who flipped two seats in the state last fall. The federal court invalidated portions of the existing maps, drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011, pointing to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of voters. The League of Women Voters and some Democrats had challenged the state’s 162 legislative and congressional districts, but the final suit only targeted 34 of those districts. Michigan has 14 congressional districts. The plaintiffs challenged the 1st, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th congressional districts. After the 2018 midterms, Democrats now hold five of those nine seats, and the full delegation is evenly split between the two parties, 7-7. The court found that all nine of the challenged congressional districts are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders “because they dilute the views of Democratic voters.” The court reached the same conclusion for seven state Senate districts and 11 state House districts.

After high turnout in last year's midterm elections propelled Democrats to a new House majority and big gains in the states, several Republican-controlled state legislatures are attempting to change voting-related rules in ways that might reduce future voter turnout.

By Emery Dalesio and Jonathan Drew, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The political operative at the center of an election fraud scandal that has engulfed a North Carolina congressional race was arrested Wednesday on charges of illegal ballot handling and conspiracy. Four people working for him were also charged. Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., 63, was accused of directing workers to collect and mail in other people’s absentee ballots during the 2018 Republican congressional primary and the 2016 general election. It is against the law in North Carolina for anyone other than the voter or a close relative to handle a mail-in ballot, a measure aimed at guarding against manipulation. Prosecutors are still investigating evidence of ballot tampering by Dowless and others working on behalf of GOP candidate Mark Harris during last fall’s congressional election in the mostly rural 9th District, which includes part of Charlotte and extends eastward across several counties. The indictment represents the first charges in a scandal that has cast doubt on election integrity and will leave a congressional seat unfilled for months. “These indictments should serve as a stern warning to anyone trying to defraud elections in North Carolina,” state elections director Kim Westbrook Strach said. Dowless was arrested less than a week after the state elections board decided that his work for Harris, starting with the primary, tainted the Republican’s apparent victory in November. The board ordered a new election but hasn’t set a date. Harris is not running in the do-over election; his Democratic opponent from November, Dan McCready, is. Harris has not been charged and has denied knowledge of any illegal practices by those involved in his campaign. But he, too, could come under scrutiny. During last week’s board hearing, he admitted writing personal checks to Dowless in 2017, a potential violation if the payments weren’t reported.

By John Wagner

Leslie McCrae Dowless, a political operative at the center of a Republican congressional campaign in North Carolina tainted by evidence of ballot fraud, was indicted by a grand jury on seven counts, a prosecutor announced Wednesday. Dowless, who worked for Mark Harris, the Republican nominee in the state’s 9th Congressional District, was arrested and charged with three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and two counts of possession of absentee ballot, the Wake County district attorney’s office said. North Carolina election officials last week ordered a new contest in the district, ending a dramatic, months-long investigation focused on irregularities with mail-in ballots. The board voted unanimously to throw out the November results between Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. Harris, an evangelical minister from Charlotte, had led by 905 votes in unofficial returns. He announced Tuesday that he would not run in the new election.

By Alan Blinder

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina election authorities on Thursday ordered a new contest for Congress in the state’s Ninth District after the Republican candidate, confronted by days of evidence that his campaign underwrote an illegal get-out-the-vote effort, abandoned his defense and called for a new vote. The unanimous ruling by the North Carolina State Board of Elections was a startling — and, for Republicans, embarrassing — turn in a case of political chicanery that convulsed North Carolina. “It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the Ninth District’s general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted,” the Republican candidate, Mark Harris, said from the witness stand on Thursday afternoon. Mr. Harris’s announcement represented an abrupt collapse of the Republican effort to stave off a new vote in the Ninth, which includes part of Charlotte and runs through much of southeastern North Carolina. But the evangelical pastor’s political surrender came only after a damaging 24 hours for Mr. Harris and his allies; just before Mr. Harris called for a new election, he acknowledged that some of his earlier testimony had been “incorrect.” Although Mr. Harris maintained on Thursday that he did not know, in real-time, about any illegal behavior by L. McCrae Dowless Jr., a campaign contractor, or his workers, witnesses this week depicted an operation that was rife with misconduct, including the completion and collection of absentee ballots. Both actions are illegal in North Carolina, and witnesses said that they had occurred repeatedly. Mr. Dowless, who refused to testify before the board, has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the 2018 election, nor have any of his workers, who were often friends or relatives with little ideological interest in politics. Prosecutors are examining the operation, though, and are considering whether to bring any criminal cases.

By Dylan Scott

A state hearing is entering its fourth day as state officials consider whether to call a new election. At a North Carolina hearing, investigators have laid out in detail an “unlawful,” “coordinated,” and well-funded plot to tamper with absentee ballots in a US House election that remains uncalled more than three months after Election Day — finally bringing clarity to one of the most bizarre election scandals in recent memory. State investigators established on Monday their theory of the case — that a Republican-hired local operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, directed a coordinated scheme to unlawfully collect, falsely witness, and otherwise tamper with absentee ballots — and workers who say they had assisted him in the scheme delivered damning testimony over several hours. Monday’s session ended with Dowless, under the advice of his attorney, refusing to testify before the election board. They met again the next two days to continue the hearing and the proceedings extended into Thursday, with Republican candidate Mark Harris expected to take the stand. But as Thursday’s hearing began, the board revealed that Harris’s campaign had produced new evidence the night before Harris was to testify: previously undisclosed contacts between the candidate and Dowless. Harris’s attorneys said they had misunderstood the extent of the investigation’s request. Democratic attorney Marc Elias referred to the documents as “explosively important.” He asked the court to consider the way in which the evidence was released as “adverse interference” by the Harris team. Over Tuesday and Wednesday, a top political consultant for Harris’s campaign and the candidate’s own son had given remarkable testimony about the decision to hire Dowless. The consultant, Andy Yates, and John Harris both insisted Harris did not know what Dowless was doing and proved too trusting about the operative’s claims. Yet John Harris did say he warned his father that Dowless’s prior work on absentee ballots seemed like it could be illegal, a warning that went unheeded by the candidate. As his son closed his testimony with a few kind remarks about his parents, Mark Harris was in tears.


In emotional testimony Wednesday, the son of North Carolina Republican Mark Harris said he warned his father about the absentee ballot strategy used by Leslie McCrae Dowless, the political operative now at the center of an election fraud scandal in the state's 9th Congressional District. John Harris testified before the North Carolina State Election Board Wednesday about allegations of election fraud. Though Mark Harris led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the unofficial ballot count on election night in November 2018, the election board refused to certify a winner, pointing to the accusations of fraud. John Harris, an attorney himself, said early on he was suspicious of Dowless' operation and shared his thoughts with his father and mother. John's testimony appears to refute comments made by his father that he was never warned about Dowless, who held prior felony convictions of fraud and perjury. After Mark met with Dowless, John sent his father an email on April 7, 2017, that included text of the law on the illegality of collecting a person's absentee ballot. "Good test is if you’re comfortable with the full process he uses being broadcast on the news," John emailed his father as Mark Harris contemplated hiring Dowless. John said he believed his father's mind was already made up despite his warnings.

Party officials want the state to certify a Republican congressional candidate the winner of a race amid a probe into election irregularities. North Carolina Republican Party officials accused state officials of being secretive and said they must swiftly certify a GOP congressional candidate the winner of an election unless they can present evidence the outcome of the contest was changed by illegal activity. The call comes as state election officials continue to probe irregularities in the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready in the state’s 9th Congressional District. The state board announced Friday it was pushing back the date for a public evidentiary hearing in the probe as it continues to gather evidence and now plans to hold the hearing on Jan. 11, eight days after the new Congress is seated. The resolution from the GOP executive committee in the 9th District came Monday after Harris, who leads McCready by 905 votes, suggested Republicans weren’t supporting him the way Democrats were backing his opponent. The GOP-controlled legislature passed a law last week that would require a new primary if the state board orders a do-over, leading to speculation that Republicans were trying to distance themselves from Harris. Much of the evidence that has emerged during the investigation so far suggests that McCrae Dowless, an operative working on Harris’ behalf, improperly collected absentee ballots from voters in Bladen and Robeson counties in the district. In those two counties, there was an unusually high number of absentee ballots that went unreturned to state officials.

Two more voters reported handing over their ballots to canvassers who came to their home. The day after their absentee ballot arrived in the mail in September, Luis Reyes and Yomayra Torres, a couple in Robeson County, got a nighttime visitor. It was a familiar face. The woman, Jennifer Boyd, had come with another woman a few months earlier to help the couple request their absentee ballots. Now she was back to see if they wanted help filling out the actual ballots. Reyes and Torres didn’t know who to vote for, and Boyd explained why she had voted for Mark Harris, a Republican pastor running for Congress in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Torres remembers Boyd saying she was with Harris’ campaign, and she told them about all the good he had done for their community but said they should vote for whomever they wanted. Reyes and Torres didn’t know about any of the other candidates in the race, so they both decided to vote for Harris. Once they filled out their ballots, Torres says, Boyd offered to take their ballots from them, and they agreed. Torres said Boyd left with both. It’s illegal for anyone in North Carolina, other than a “close relative,” to take custody of an absentee ballot. Reyes and Torres didn’t know that. Torres said she thought Boyd was just trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for them to cast their votes.

A probe into election fraud expands amid growing calls -- even among some Republicans -- for a new vote. The southern border of North Carolina have been the epicenter of an unfolding investigation into potential election fraud committed on behalf of — and funded by — Republicans running in statewide and federal elections in the 9th district. Much of the focus has been on Bladen County, where Soil and Water Conservation District vice chair Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. reportedly paid multiple people to illegally collect voters’ absentee ballots and deliver them to him, rather than the local board of elections. But an analysis of absentee ballots cast in neighboring Robeson County suggests that the effort to interfere with the midterm election was more extensive than previously thought. According to CNN, four people in Robeson County are listed as witnesses on dozens of absentee ballots. One individual’s name appeared on at least 57 ballot envelopes, a whopping nine percent of all absentee ballots cast in the county. A second woman signed 28 other envelopes in Robeson county, as well as 42 others in Bladen county. She is also the daughter of Dowless’s ex-wife.

When GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger lost his primary by a narrow margin in May, he suspected something was amiss. The congressman turned to a group of friends and family who had gathered with him on election night at a steakhouse near Charlotte and blamed the “ballot stuffers in Bladen,” according to three people at the gathering. Pittenger’s concern stemmed from the vote tallies in rural Bladen County, where his challenger, a pastor from the Charlotte suburbs named Mark Harris, had won 437 absentee mail-in votes. Pittenger, a three-term incumbent, had received just 17. In the days immediately after the race, aides to Pittenger told the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party and a regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee that they believed fraud had occurred, according to people familiar with their discussions. GOP officials did little to scrutinize the results, instead turning their attention to Harris’s general-election campaign against a well-funded Democratic opponent, the people said.

Republicans have spent years warning us that voter fraud is rampant. Despite no evidence that this is the case -- election fraud in the United States is in fact rare -- the GOP has put legislation into place in states across the country to make it harder to vote, arguing that it's necessary to protect the sanctity of elections. They take voter fraud seriously, they say. It's become one of their core issues. So we would expect that, faced with a rare case of potentially serious and pervasive electoral fraud, they would jump on it -- insist on an investigation, figure out exactly what happened, punish wrongdoers and close whatever holes in the system led to the abuses. There are indeed serious allegations of election fraud tied to North Carolina's midterm elections right now in a congressional district where results appear abnormal. But instead of insisting on investigating, Republicans are waving it away and insisting there's nothing to see. Why the sudden about-face on this allegedly serious crime? Because the Republican candidate, Mark Harris won -- by 905 votes -- and may have benefited from the alleged fraud. And of course the GOP position was never about protecting our democracy at all. It was about suppressing votes for Democrats and giving themselves an unfair advantage.

A congressional race in North Carolina that seemed to be settled on election night was reopened last week amid allegations of absentee ballot fraud. The Republican candidate, Mark Harris, has a 905-vote lead over the Democrat, Dan McCready. Mr. Harris won 61 percent of submitted absentee ballots in Bladen County, even though registered Republicans accounted for only 19 percent of the ballots submitted. To do that, he would have had to win essentially every independent who voted absentee, as well as some registered Democrats. In every other county in the district — even strongly Republican ones — Mr. McCready won the absentee vote. In an affidavit sent to the elections board, one Bladen County resident, Datesha Montgomery, said a woman had come to her door in October and collected her absentee ballot, which is illegal in North Carolina. Ms. Montgomery said that she had voted only for sheriff and school board, and that the woman “said she would finish it herself.” Another resident, Emma Shipman, said in an affidavit that a woman had similarly collected her ballot, which was unsealed and unsigned. A third, Lucy Young, said she had received an absentee ballot even though she had not requested one.

Stacey Abrams, Georgia's Democratic candidate for governor, roundly dismissed the accusation by her opponent that Democrats had tried to hack the state's voter registration files. There is "no evidence" of any impropriety, Abrams told "CBS This Morning" Monday. GOP nominee Brian Kemp, who is Georgia's secretary of state, oversees elections, and on Sunday announced an investigation into the Georgia Democratic Party over the attempted hacking, just two days before the election. The secretary of state's office has cited no evidence for the probe against the Democrats.

Despite court rulings striking down efforts to throw out ballots of thousands of US citizens in Georgia, the home of the civil rights movement, Emory University professor Dr Carol Anderson said there is still a “blatant” push for minority voter suppression in the state ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. “What looks really simple, really isn't and that is how voter [identification] has basically snaked its tentacles into the American psyche” and become voter suppression, the author of One Person, No Vote, told The Independent.

The Texas NAACP has drawn attention to problems with voting machines throughout the state. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and Texas State Conference of the NAACP just wrote a powerful letter to the Texas Secretary of State, Rolando B. Pablos, insisting that he protect the voting rights of all Texans after reports of ominous irregularities from voting machines throughout the state. "In the past week, we have received reports from individuals and voter advocacy groups that some Texas voters attempting to cast a straight-ticket ballot for the Democratic Party on Hart eSlate machines have seen their selection for U.S. Senator switch at the last moment to the candidate for the Republican Party," the NAACP and LDF wrote in their letter. "We have not received reports that this is happening to Texas voters attempting to cast a straight-ticket ballot for the Republican Party on these machines. But our request that your office do more on this issue is non-partisan and will protect all voters.

Gerrymandering -- drawing political boundaries to give your party a numeric advantage over an opposing party -- is a difficult process to explain. If you find the notion confusing, check out the chart above --  adapted from one posted to Reddit this weekend -- and wonder no more.

One suburban Georgia county has become a flashpoint for concerns over voter suppression for rejecting hundreds of mail-in absentee ballots weeks before Election Day. Gwinnett County, located northeast of Atlanta, now faces two federal lawsuits and accusations from voting rights activists who say the rejections disproportionately affect minority voters, particularly Asian Americans and African Americans. The county has rejected 595 absentee ballots, which account for more than a third of the total absentee-ballot rejections in the state, even though Gwinnett County accounts for only about 6% of absentee ballots submitted in Georgia, according to state data analyzed by CNN Friday. More than 300 of the rejected ballots belonged to African Americans and Asian Americans.

He’s investigated groups that have tried to register voters—including one led by his opponent. About a month before the election, Ho realized something was amiss. People whom she had registered were contacting her, reporting that they had never received registration cards. Then others who had tried to vote early told her they had been turned away. Ho’s intern visited the secretary of state’s website and looked up every person the nonprofit—then called the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, now Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta—had tried to register. He found that 574—about 40 percent—were not on the rolls. “That’s when we realized this is a problem,” Ho says. “These are mostly new immigrants, former refugees, that are becoming citizens, and for some reason the registration process is systematically denying them the right to vote.”

Wim Laven arrived to his polling  location in Atlanta’s northern suburbs this week unsure what to make of  recent allegations of voter difficulties at the ballot box. Then he  waited two hours in the Georgia sun; saw one person in the line treated  for heat exhaustion; and watched a second collapse, receive help from  paramedics, yet refuse to be taken to the hospital — so he could remain  in line and cast his ballot.
Mr. Laven is now a believer. “I have a hard time imaging this is anything but an intentional effort,” said Mr. Laven.

After the 2010 election, state lawmakers nationwide started introducing hundreds of harsh measures making it harder to vote. The new laws range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions. Overall, 24 states have put in place new restrictions since then — 13 states have more restrictive voter ID laws in place (and six states have strict photo ID requirements), 11 have laws making it harder for citizens to register, seven cut back on early voting opportunities, and three made it harder to restore voting rights for people with past criminal convictions.

The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database presents a sampling of proven instances of election fraud from across the country. This database is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list, but is intended to demonstrate the many ways in which fraud is committed. Preventing, deterring, and prosecuting election fraud is essential to protecting the integrity of our voting process.

During the 2004 United States presidential election, concerns were raised about various aspects of the voting process, including whether voting had been made accessible to all those entitled to vote, whether ineligible voters were registered, whether voters were registered multiple times, and whether the votes cast had been correctly counted. More controversial was the charge that these issues might have affected the reported outcome of the presidential election, in which the incumbent, Republican President George W. Bush, defeated the Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry. Despite the existing controversies, Kerry conceded the election the following day on November 3.

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