A dispute erupted on Monday between top US lawmakers on the intelligence committees in Congress, as Democrats suggested Republicans were incapable of conducting an independent investigation into alleged contacts between Donald Trump and Russian intelligence sources. Tensions between the two parties escalated when Devin Nunes, the Republican who chairs the House intelligence panel, claimed he had not seen any evidence that associates of Trump had communicated with Russian officials and said calls for a special committee to probe the issue would amount to a “witch hunt”. “As of right now, I don’t have any evidence of any phone calls,” Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but I don’t have that. And what I’ve been told by many folks is that there’s nothing there.” He added: “At this time, I want to be very careful that we can’t just go on a witch-hunt against Americans because they appear in news stories.”
A federal judge has asked the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to say whether its executive director had the authority to unilaterally require people to prove their citizenship in order to register to vote using a federal form in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon put the question to the commission on Saturday and gave it until June 1 to respond.
Editorials: Want Secure Elections? Then Maybe Don’t Cut Security Funding | Dan S. Wallach and Justin Talbot-Zorn/WIRED
Last Week, the House Administration Committee voted on party lines to defund the Election Administration Commission, the leading federal agency responsible for helping states run smooth elections and preventing hacking. Republicans justified the move as a way to save money and shrink the size and scope of government: “We don’t need fluff,” said Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), the committee chairman, explaining his vote. But the move wasn’t just Capitol Hill budget politics as usual. It’s evidence of a radical disconnect between a handful of influential House Republicans and nearly everyone else—including the scientific community, leading cybersecurity experts, and even the White House—who contend that voting vulnerabilities are a serious problem. On the morning of the election, Donald Trump called Fox News to give his views on the state of voting in the United States: “There’s something really nice about the old paper ballot system—you don’t worry about hacking.” Trump wasn’t going rogue. While his “voter fraud” comments have gotten serious attention of late, he has also, like many conservatives, expressed concern about the vulnerability of voting systems.
The next remap of California’s political lines is more than four years away, but some legal fights already have begun. Monday, Los Angeles County asked a judge to block a 2016 California law putting a new commission in charge of redrawing county supervisors’ districts after the 2020 census, contending in a lawsuit that the constitution does not allow a “state-imposed experiment in redistricting by partisan, unaccountable and randomly selected commissioners.”
Rodney Cruz was born an American citizen. He did a tour in Iraq during 10 years in the Army, and was wounded on the battlefield three times, eventually suffering a traumatic brain injury. His enlistment followed in the footsteps of many of his relatives, an unbroken line of military service. Five successive generations of his family have put their lives on the line for the country, but like four million other Americans in the U.S. territories, Cruz, as a resident of Guam, is constitutionally barred from voting in federal elections. But with some help from a brand-new legal platform, Cruz intends to change that. As the founder of the Iraq-Afghanistan Persian Gulf Veterans of the Pacific, Cruz is one of the lead plaintiffs in the Segovia v. Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners’ case, a lawsuit seeking to challenge the prohibition on residents of U.S. territories voting in federal elections. The suit is one of several recent legal challenges around the issue of voting rights, sovereignty, and citizenship in the U.S. territories. After the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled against the plaintiffs and denied a motion for summary judgment last year, the plaintiffs and a nonprofit voting-rights organization called We the People Project turned to crowdfunding to finance an appeal to the U.S. Seventh Circuit court.
Early voting in Iowa would be reduced under new proposed changes to a voter identification bill approved Monday by a Republican-controlled House subcommittee. The changes, introduced in an amendment by Rep. Ken Rizer, R-Marion, go beyond the scope of the voter ID bill originally filed and promoted by Secretary of State Paul Pate. The amendment was approved about an hour after it was made public during a subcommittee of the House State Government Committee, which Rizer chairs. It advanced with only Republican support. Among the changes is a plan to reduce early voting in a primary or general election in Iowa from 40 days to 29 days. Iowa has one of the longest early voting periods in the country. Rizer said it’s wrong to assume fewer people will vote early under the proposed new system.
A bill requiring Iowans to show identification at the polls was approved by a panel of legislators Monday amid concerns the requirements could restrict access to voting. House Study Bill 93 would make a number of election-related changes that Secretary of State Paul Pate says are needed to ensure the integrity of Iowa’s election processes and prevent fraud. Among them is provision that would require every voter to present valid government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or military ID. “We don’t have a voter fraud issue in the state of Iowa,” said Connie Ryan, a lobbyist with the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund. “And it makes no sense to put in provisions that would actually limit people’s ability to vote.” According to an Associated Press report, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office was notified of 10 potentially improper votes cast out of 1.6 million counted statewide in the most recent elections. But the proposal remains popular. According to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll conducted earlier this month, 69 percent of respondents said they support requiring an ID to vote. And although the plan is most popular among Republicans, with 88 percent saying they support mandatory voter ID, 48 percent of Democrats also said they think voters should have identification.
A lawsuit challenging the state’s 20-day voter registration cutoff deadline is working its way through the courts with a goal of finding a final resolution ahead of next year’s elections. Defenders of the 20-day cutoff say it’s an important tool for the orderly management of the election process in Massachusetts. Critics say ending the voter registration period 20 days before Election Day is arbitrary. They point to the state’s adoption of early voting last year that allowed voters to begin casting ballots on Oct. 24, just five days after the Oct. 19 registration cutoff. “So as a practical matter you had to be able to let people vote five days after the registration cutoff,” said Kirsten Mayer, a lawyer with the firm Ropes & Gray arguing against the existing registration deadline. “So under those circumstances how can you say you need 20 days?”
The New Hampshire State House is currently considering several bills that would impact voting and election laws in the state. Students, along with many others, would be highly affected by these new bills if they were to be passed. A Republican-led state house has put forward more than 40 new election bills that will be voted upon in the upcoming months. David Bates, a Republican state representative from Windham, has been the guiding force behind most of these bills that oppose such voting. Election officials in New Hampshire have repeatedly said that there is no widespread voter fraud in the state, according to NHPR. The definition of domicile would be changed under these laws, meaning that those who do not plan to stay in the state on a relatively permanent-basis would no longer be allowed to vote. With these laws in place, out-of-state students would no longer be allowed to vote.
A proposal to open New Mexico’s primary elections to independent voters survived – just barely – its first challenge in the state Senate.
The bill made it out of the Senate Rules Committee on Monday without a recommendation and now heads to the Judiciary Committee, potentially its last stop before reaching the Senate floor. But that was only after a motion to recommend passage of the bill failed on a tie vote. A similar proposal, meanwhile, is also advancing through the House, though it has not yet reached the floor. Monday’s action centered on Senate Bill 205, sponsored by Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales.