The Rhode Island Board of Elections has started the process of changing one of its rules in response to a complaint filed by a former GOP gubernatorial candidate, Ken Block, who has testified before President Trump’s commission on voting irregularities. Block filed a complaint in September with the U.S. Justice Department, alleging the state was violating a federal voting regulation by failing to collect Social Security or driver’s license numbers from new voters.
Despite the denunciations hurled Ken Block’s way when he filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging Rhode Island was violating federal election law, the state Board of Elections took a first step Monday toward fixing what is now acknowledged to be a problem. The board gave its lawyer, Raymond Marcaccio, the go-ahead to draft potential replacements for a regulation adopted in 2008 that excludes people registering in person from a federal requirement that voters registering for the first time provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Marcaccio recommended the board remove any “ambiguity″ by removing the exclusion for these would-be voters.
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, lawmakers held a hearing to evaluate how states maintain accurate and up-to-date voter registration rolls.
Chairman of the House Administration Committee Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., said it is paramount for elections to be conducted in a fair and open manner. “Ensuring the accuracy of voter registration lists is the foundation to a successful election. Having accurate lists increases voter confidence, it eases the administration of elections, reduces wait times, and certainly helps prevent voter fraud and irregularity,” Harper said. The hearing also questioned crosscheck programs and automatic voter registration practices. … Hearing witness and Director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union Dale Ho claimed that the interstate crosscheck program struggles with accuracy.
A federal judge signed a consent order Tuesday concluding a voting rights challenge in Georgia that has drawn national attention because of a proposed earlier registration deadline before a hotly contested congressional election runoff. In the end, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp agreed not to impose voting registration deadlines earlier than those set by federal law 30 days before an election, according to an order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten Sr. of the Northern District of Georgia. Civil rights advocates filed the lawsuit in April after the secretary of state tried to impose a voter registration deadline for the special election for the Sixth District runoff. That would have cut off registration two months earlier than the 30 days the federal law allows. But Batten issued a preliminary injunction opening up registration. Batten’s order also said the secretary will also have to pay “reasonable attorney fees and costs” for the plaintiffs, which include: the Georgia NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta Inc., Third Sector Development Inc. (parent of the New Georgia Project) and ProGeorgia State Table Inc.
Voter rights advocates are pushing Illinois election officials to withdraw from a longtime multistate voter registration database over questions of accuracy, security and voter suppression.
The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program is aimed at cleaning voter records and preventing voter fraud. States voluntarily provide their voter lists, and the program searches for duplicates.
While a few states have quietly exited over data quality concerns, advocates in Democrat-leaning Illinois are taking it a step further with fresh claims about lax security, discrimination against minorities and questions about the role of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a contentious Republican who oversees the program and is vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s election fraud commission.
Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights oppose it and advocates packed a recent State Board of Elections meeting after sending letters demanding Illinois end its cooperation. Now, more than two dozen state lawmakers also want Illinois to withdraw. Their push comes as Trump’s commission is asking states for voter information while it investigates Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016.
“Crosscheck is being used as a political tool to help Republicans win elections,” said state Rep. Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat. “This has gone much too far.”
Kobach, who declined an interview, has defended the database. He’s championed tough voter identification laws that critics claim suppress minority voters and helped draft proposals in numerous states aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. His views have been more heavily scrutinized since he was tapped for Trump’s commission.
Past studies have shown voter fraud is exceedingly rare. Although voting in multiple places is illegal, being registered to vote in more than one state isn’t. And that can happen when people move from one jurisdiction to another.
The origins of Crosscheck date to 2005, before Kobach was Kansas’ chief election official. It started with Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska sharing information. Illinois joined in 2010. This year, 28 states participated. Four states have left Crosscheck: Florida, Washington, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
Full Article: Voter advocates push Illinois to exit multistate database.
A federal judge says Georgia cannot close voter registration for any federal election, including runoff contests, more than 30 days before the election. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law had filed a lawsuit in April challenging the state’s registration deadline for voters wishing to participate in a June 20 special election runoff for an open U.S. House seat.
With no one actually disputing the possibility that Rhode Island has for close to a decade violated a federal law requiring a driver’s license or Social Security number from people registering to vote for the first time, a battle of wills broke out Wednesday night at the state Board of Elections. The battle pitted elections board member Stephen Erickson, a one-time state lawmaker and retired District Court judge, against 2014 Republican candidate for governor Ken Block, who did a recent — and highly controversial — voter analysis for a nonprofit co-founded by President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon. Before a live audience at the election board’s Branch Avenue headquarters, Erickson and Block essentially acted out their running Twitter dispute over the complaint that Block filed with the U.S. Department of Justice late last month alleging violations by Rhode Island of the “Help America Vote Act (HAVA).”
New Hampshire: State Says ‘Miscommunication’ to Blame for Notice Telling Towns to Remove Voters from Checklists | NHPR
The Secretary of State’s office says “miscommunication” is to blame for a message that appeared to direct local officials to strike the names of some voters from checklists without notifying them first. “It was miscommunication, pure and simple,” Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said. “What should have been a very quiet summer for us has actually been incredibly busy. There are a number of groups that have filed lawsuits against the election laws, and they file those against our office — so we’re dealing with that. We’re dealing with numerous right-to-know requests. We’re trying to train election officials. There’s only so many of us that can go around. You can understand how a miscommunication can take place,” Scanlan added, “and we just have to work harder at it, that’s all.”
National: Group led by Dolphins owner wants to see every professional athlete registered to vote | The Washington Post
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills had an innovative idea last year. Having recently become interested both in politics and working as a voice for social change, the 25-year-old decided it was time for his team to think about getting more involved, too. So one day early in the 2016 NFL season, he printed out dozens of voter registration forms and stuck them in each of his 52 teammates’ lockers. “I was already registered, but I thought it would be cool for the team, to get everyone involved,” he said of the personal campaign he began a couple months before the 2016 presidential election. His effort didn’t exactly go as planned, however. “I didn’t get too many responses,” he said.
Cuyahoga County announced Tuesday – National Voter Registration Day – that it will hiring a voting-rights coordinator as part of a new initiative to promote the right and need to vote. The county plans to lead efforts in voter engagement, support a voter awareness summit for youth and partner with libraries to promote online voter registration options for residents. “The right to vote is critical to our democracy,” County Executive Armond Budish said in a statement. “At a time when some are trying to make it harder to vote, we need to do more to help people get registered. Cuyahoga County is dedicated to making voting as accessible as possible for all of our residents.”