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Pennsylvania: Federal Court Lambastes Conservative Effort To Strip Felon Voting Rights In Philadelphia | HuffPost

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the Philadelphia City Commissioners that tried to force the city to purge convicted felons from the voter rolls, using scathing language against a conservative group that brought the suit. Felons in Pennsylvania cannot vote while they are incarcerated, but are eligible to do so upon release. The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), a conservative group that has pushed for more aggressive voting rights restrictions across the country, said felons should be removed from the voter rolls after incarceration and sued the city, alleging it was violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which sets guidance for how states can purge their voter rolls. Judge C. Darnell Jones II of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a George W. Bush appointment, dismissed the lawsuit last year. Read More

Editorials: Purging voter rolls to suppress turnout | Baltimore Sun

Last week, the U.S. Solicitor General took the unusual step of reinterpreting a 24-year-old federal statute specifically designed to convenience voting in order to switch sides in a pending Supreme Court case that centers on Ohio’s aggressive purging of voter rolls. The Trump Justice Department now sides with Ohio, which contends that not voting for six years — and then not responding to a single mailing asking the voter to confirm his or her registration — is sufficient to remove that person from state voter rolls. That should cause no small amount of alarm. It’s part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to restrict voting rights under the guise of fighting fraud, which is nearly non-existent. The true purpose is to keep from the polls individuals who are less likely to support Republican candidates or causes. And it’s a potential stake through the heart of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “Motor Voter Act,” which was meant to expand, not shrink, the nation’s voter registration rolls. Read More

Editorials: Partners in Voter Suppression | The New York Times

The Trump administration moved deeper into the politics of voter suppression this week by reversing the federal government’s opposition to Ohio’s effort to purge tens of thousands of voters from the rolls simply because they vote infrequently. A federal appeals court blocked Ohio’s move last year as a violation of voting laws, in a case brought by civil rights advocates and backed by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. Now that an appeal has been accepted for this term by the Supreme Court, Trump appointees at Justice — not career professionals — have changed the government’s position to side with Ohio, in effect endorsing the purge and asking that it be allowed to go forward. Read More

Kansas: Appeals court ruling requires Kobach to testify under oath | The Washington Post

A federal appeals court ruling will force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to answer questions under oath about plans to change U.S. election law. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied the Kansas Republican’s request for an emergency stay of his deposition by the American Civil Liberties Union. Kobach’s office declined to comment on the decision.  Read More

National: Leader Of Voter Fraud Probe Really Doesn’t Want To Release Trump Meeting Documents | HuffPost

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) continued to fight releasing documents from a meeting with President Donald Trump in November, saying that the public did not need to see them and that disclosing them would impede his ability to serve on Trump’s commission to investigate voter fraud. Kobach, who has lent support to Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud and exaggerated instances of it in the past, made the argument with his lawyer in a Friday court filing as part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union over a Kansas law requiring people to prove their citizenship to vote. As part of the lawsuit, the ACLU is requesting a Kansas federal judge unseal documents that Kobach was photographed holding when he met with Trump in November 2016, as well as a draft amendment to federal voting law, which circulated in his office. The documents contain potential amendments to the National Voter Registration Act, a 1993 law requiring motor vehicle and some other state agencies to provide opportunities to register to vote. Read More

National: Emails show Kobach crafting changes to federal voting law after Trump win | The Wichita Eagle

Kansas Secretary of Kris Kobach was developing federal legislation immediately after the November election to “make clear” that proof of citizenship voter registration requirements – like what Kansas has – would be permitted nationwide. Emails contained in court filings on Friday show that the day after the presidential election Kobach was already preparing changes to the National Voter Registration Act, commonly called the motor voter law, for the future administration of President Donald Trump. Kobach, who announced a bid for Kansas governor in June, began a Nov. 9 email by referencing draft legislation for submission to Congress early in the Trump administration. “I have already started regarding amendments to the NVRA to make clear that proof of citizenship requirements are permitted (based on my ongoing litigation with the ACLU over this), as well as legislation to stop the dozen states that are providing instate tuition to illegal aliens in violation of (federal law),” Kobach wrote. Read More

National: Voter fraud commission worries civil rights advocates | McClatchy

President Donald Trump’s election fraud commission is coming under fire not only for requesting mass amounts of voter information but also for including two key members who have been accused of championing legislation that would suppress voter participation along partisan lines. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was appointed the vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity after Trump signed an executive order in May. … “We all agree American elections need to be secure,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “What we’re looking into here is to ensure … all of the information is being considered under the light.” Kobach, who launched his campaign for governor of Kansas last month, has supported Trump’s unfounded claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Read More

National: Advocates Worry Trump Administration Wants To Revamp Motor Voter Law | NPR

Lost in the uproar last week over a written request by a White House commission for state voter registration lists was another letter sent that same day. It came from the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), and asked states for details on how they’re complying with a requirement in the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) — also known as the motor-voter law — that election officials keep their voting lists accurate and up to date. The timing and focus of the two letters — one from the commission and the other from DOJ — has made some voter advocacy groups nervous about what the Trump administration is up to, and whether its ultimate goal is to weaken or revamp the motor voter law. “It’s very concerning,” said Brenda Wright, vice president of policy and legal strategies at Demos, a liberal advocacy group that’s been fighting state efforts to purge voters from the rolls. Wright notes that the main purpose of the motor voter law is to expand opportunities to register to vote, but that millions of eligible Americans are still unregistered. Read More

National: Justice Department Request For State Voter Information Follows Similar Kobach Query | KCUR

Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice are asking states including Kansas for information related to the National Voter Registration Act — a move made the same day that the president’s commission on voter fraud sent a request for “publicly available voter roll data.” In a letter sent June 28, Justice Department officials requested data on how states purge registrations of people who have died or moved. The letter seeks information to confirm that states are complying with federal law and keeping voting lists updated. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on the same day sent requests for voter registration information to all states in his role as vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s commission on voter fraud. Numerous states have said they will not provide some or all of the information that Kobach requested. Read More

National: This DOJ Letter May Be More Alarming Than Trump Commission’s Request For Voter Data | HuffPost

Former Department of Justice officials and voting advocates are seriously alarmed over a DOJ letter sent to states last week that they say could signal a forthcoming effort to kick people off voter rolls. This comes as national attention focuses on several states blocking a request for voter information from President Donald Trump’s commission to investigate voting fraud, which does occur, but is not a widespread problem. The DOJ sent the letter to 44 states last Wednesday, the same day the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent a letter controversially requesting personal voter information. The DOJ letter requests that election officials respond by detailing their compliance with a section of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), which covers 44 states and was enacted to help people register to vote, but also specifies when voters may be kicked off the rolls.  Several experts said it’s difficult not to see the DOJ letter in connection with the commission’s letter as part of a multipronged effort to restrict voting rights.  Read More