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Election Fraud, Voter Suppression, Gerrymandering
Voter suppression is the worse type of voter fraud it deprives you of your right to cast your vote. In the old days, people used threats, sticks, knives and guns to prevent people from voting. Now Republicans remove you from the voter rolls or use voter ID laws to make it harder for some to vote so they can steal the elections so they can stay in power. The Republican Party motto if you cannot beat them fairly use voter suppression to deprive people of their right to vote, use voter ID laws to make it harder to vote, then use gerrymandering to stay in power, that way they control our elections so they can stay in power and control our laws and our lives.
Tracking Interference into our elections
Tracking the Mueller investigation into how the Russians infiltrated the Trump campaign and conspired with the Trump campaign to help Donald J. Trump win the election
A practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander; however, that word is also a verb for the process. The term gerrymandering has negative connotations. Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: "cracking" (i.e. diluting the voting power of the opposing party's supporters across many districts) and "packing" (concentrating the opposing party's voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts). The third tactic, shown in the top-left diagram in the diagrams to the right, is that of homogenization of all districts. In addition to its use achieving desired electoral results for a particular party, gerrymandering may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, or class group, such as in U.S. federal voting district boundaries that produce a majority of constituents representative of African-American or other racial minorities, known as "majority-minority districts". Gerrymandering can also be used to protect incumbents.
A strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting. It is distinguished from political campaigning in that campaigning attempts to change likely voting behavior by changing the opinions of potential voters through persuasion and organization. Voter suppression, instead, attempts to reduce the number of voters who might vote against a candidate or proposition. The tactics of voter suppression range from minor changes to make voting less convenient, to physically intimidating prospective voters, which is illegal. Voter suppression can be effective if a significant number of voters are intimidated or disenfranchised. In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder that voting laws had resulted in voter suppression and discrimination.
Democrats in the key 2020 state are fighting the effort to slash the registration rolls in court.By Associated PressMADISON, 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 KnowlesGeorgia 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.
In leaked audio, a top Trump adviser said the Republican party has 'traditionally' relied on voter suppressionBy Kat TenbargeOne 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 BauerMADISON, 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, FloridaVoter 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 rightMartin 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 BekiempisA 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 continuesMaggie 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 SternIn 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 ballotBy Clark MindockA 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 WilliamsNorth 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. HasenReformers 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 SternThe 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 WilsonState 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 ReporterWashington (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 FordA 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 BarnesThe 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 pressVoting 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."
It is important to protect the integrity of our elections. But we must be careful not to undermine free and fair access to the ballot in the name of preventing voter fraud.
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 McLeanHis 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 PressRALEIGH, 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 WagnerLeslie 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 BlinderRALEIGH, 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.
The bizarre election fraud hearings that could lead to a new House election in North Carolina, explainedBy Dylan ScottA 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.
By LAURA BARRÓN-LÓPEZIn 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.
2018 midterms: Despite federal court rulings, voter suppression in Georgia still ‘blatant’ and worrisome according to expertsDespite 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.
How to steal an election: a visual guide. This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever seeGerrymandering -- 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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