voter suppression

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Texas: Senate Bill Is Meant To Improve Election Security But Will It Discourage Voting? | Texas Public Radio

When Texans head to the polls on Super Tuesday in 2020, the act of voting could be very different. Texas lawmakers are looking at bills to cut property taxes and boost school spending, and they’re also looking at ways to secure elections in the state, particularly with Senate Bill 9. Omar Escobar, the Starr County district attorney, said rigging elections is a business in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. “Elderly people, many of whom receive a food bank’s distributions are approached by workers,” he explained, “and being told, ‘hey, here’s the application for a ballot by mail. You need to sign this thing. And as soon as you get the ballot … we’re going to prepare it for you.’ So the practice as we have seen it was that they’d go in, and … as soon as that ballot came they swoop in and help them sort of vote ‘the right way.’ Escobar was testifying before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs. He said the vote harvesters were paid to collect those ballots. He said voters who handed over their mail ballots to campaign workers had little awareness that their votes were altered and that they were victimized. “Our investigation showed that we had one person — just one person — assist 230 voters,” he said. “Now this is just [the] application of ballot by mail. On this other side, on the in-person voting, you have people who are going to assist, and, of course, the assistant is watching this voter vote and sometimes marking the ballot for them.”

Full Article: Senate Bill Is Meant To Improve Election Security But Will It Discourage Voting? | Texas Public Radio.

Kansas: Elections director: Crosscheck last used in 2017, when audit found security risks | St. John News

State elections director Bryan Caskey told lawmakers Tuesday the controversial Interstate Crosscheck program hasn’t been used since 2017, when a Homeland Security audit discovered vulnerabilities, and won’t be used this year. The program is the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 945 voters whose partial Social Security numbers were exposed by Florida officials through an open records request. In an appearance before the House Elections Committee, Caskey said Secretary of State Scott Schwab has ordered a review of Crosscheck to determine whether to abandon the program all together. He also said the state could use $2 million in federal funds untouched by former Secretary Kris Kobach to gain access to an alternative. The initial cost for the Electronic Registration Information Center would be $25,000.

Full Article: Kansas elections director: Crosscheck last used in 2017, when audit found security risks - News - SJ News Online - St. John, KS - St. John, KS.

New Hampshire: ACLU sues to block voter fraud law deriding it as a ‘poll tax’ | Union Leader

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the state on behalf of two college students who claim a new law that requires a New Hampshire driver’s license to vote violates their constitutional rights and represents a 21st-century “poll tax.” Caroline Casey is originally from Louisiana and Maggie Flaherty is from California. Both women are sophomores at Dartmouth College who voted in the 2018 primaries and general elections in New Hampshire but maintain driver’s licenses from their home states, according to the lawsuit. Under HB 1264, which was signed into law last year but doesn’t take effect until July, anyone who votes in New Hampshire must obtain an in-state driver’s license and vehicle registration within 60 days of casting their ballot.

Full Article: ACLU sues to block NH voter fraud law deriding it as a 'poll tax' | Courts | unionleader.com.

North Carolina: Elections officials will give U.S. attorney vastly fewer records than he sought in voter probe | The Washington Post

Six months after a grand jury demanded millions of North Carolina voting records, state officials have announced they will release fewer than 800 voter files — a potentially significant setback for a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney who has targeted noncitizen voting as one of his top priorities. The state Board of Elections last week instructed 44 county election offices that received wide-ranging subpoenas for millions of voting records in August to hand over the files for only 289 voters. The state will turn over registration records for an additional 500 voters. It is unclear whether the vastly reduced volume of records is the result of a court order or an agreement between the board and U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr., who sought the records in August, shortly after he announced the arrest of 19 noncitizens on charges that they had illegally voted in the 2016 presidential election.

Full Article: North Carolina elections officials will give U.S. attorney vastly fewer records than he sought in voter probe - The Washington Post.

Texas: Secretary of state apologizes for how he rolled out voter citizenship review. But he still supports the effort. | The Texas Tribune

Facing an uncertain path to confirmation after ordering a deeply flawed voter citizenship review that seemingly focused on naturalized citizens, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is apologizing to state lawmakers for the way his office bungled its rollout of the review — but he is still holding firm behind the overall effort. In a letter sent to state lawmakers late Wednesday, Whitley largely defended the review efforts as a legally sound exercise, and he did not admit that his office had erred when it mistakenly threw into question the eligibility of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens or when it sent counties lists of voters it knew very likely included naturalized citizens. Instead, Whitley vaguely admitted there were some shortcomings to the data his office used to flag almost 100,000 registered voters for citizenship reviews and noted his office should have devoted more time to “additional communication” with local and state officials to “further eliminate anyone from our original list who is, in fact, eligible to vote.”

Full Article: David Whitley delivered Texas lawmakers an apology over citizenship review | The Texas Tribune.

United Kingdom: Voter ID trials are dangerous. That’s why I’m taking the government to court | Neil Coughlan/The Guardian

On Wednesday, I received a date to attend the high court to fight against the government’s dangerous voter ID plans. This case is particularly significant for everyone who lives in my community because next May, for the first time ever, we will be asked to show identification in order to cast our vote at the local government election. Braintree district council, my local authority in Essex, is one of 10 boroughs across England taking part in the government’s pilot scheme, before it plans to roll out voter ID at the next general election. At first glance, these measures could appear reasonable, fair and innocuous. But on closer inspection, voter ID discriminates against people who are unable to provide identification with the ease that ministers, civil servants and most people take for granted – and naively think we all possess. As the Windrush scandal clearly demonstrated, many British citizens do not have official documentation, in fact, 3.5 million electors (7.5% of the electorate) do not have any photo ID.

Full Article: Voter ID trials are dangerous. That’s why I’m taking the government to court | Neil Coughlan | Opinion | The Guardian.

Editorials: As a Citizen Included on Texas’ Fake Voter Fraud List, I Call for the Resignation of Secretary of State David Whitley | Julieta Garibay/Texas Observer

I still remember the day of my citizenship exam. It was a cold Monday in November 2017, at the San Antonio office of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). I had relentlessly studied the 100 questions about the history and government of the United States that might be asked. I prayed I wouldn’t forget the answers. My heart was pounding and my stomach was in a complete knot. The USCIS agent asked: “Who is the governor of Texas?” “Abbott,” I responded. The officer sternly asked for the governor’s full name. My mind was running. A few months before, I had tweeted at Abbott when he signed SB 4 on Facebook and proudly boasted about criminalizing immigrants and making it easier for state and local police to work with the feds to detain and deport. But I could not remember his first name. I froze. The irony of my life: Would I fail my citizenship exam because I couldn’t remember the first name of the man who was hurting the immigrant community so much? The same man who is now calling into question my right to vote. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tried to remember his Twitter handle. It came to me and I blurted, “Greg Abbott!” A few questions later, the USCIS officer said, “I am recommending you for the citizenship oath ceremony.”

Full Article: As a Citizen Included on Texas’ Fake Voter Fraud List, I Call for the Resignation of Secretary of State David Whitley.

Texas: Civil rights groups ask court to halt ‘voter purge’ during lawsuit | Houston Chronicle

Warning that the “likelihood of severe harm is high,” civil rights organizations asked a federal judge to order an immediate halt to a state-initiated process that questions the citizenship of thousands of registered voters in Texas. The MOVE Texas Civic Fund, the Jolt Initiative, League of Women Voters of Texas and Texas resident Nivien Saleh filed a motion  for a preliminary injunction Wednesday, seeking to prevent any Texans from wrongly being removed from the voter rolls while the groups’ lawsuit against the state and five county elections officials proceeds. The request focuses on a Jan. 25 advisory sent by Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, asking local election offices to look into the citizenship of 95,000 people on the voter rolls. Whitley recommended that counties send notices to people the state flagged as possible non-citizens, giving them 30 days to prove they’re eligible to vote by presenting proper documentation. If they don’t respond, their registrations would be canceled by the county voter registrar. Even if a notice is returned as undeliverable, the advisory instructs the county to cancel the registration.

Full Article: Civil rights groups ask court to halt 'voter purge' during lawsuit - Houston Chronicle.

Texas: David Whitley could face a tough confirmation for Texas secretary of state | The Texas Tribune

The governor’s appointments for secretary of state typically sail through the Texas Senate. But against the backdrop of a flawed voter citizenship check that risked the votes of tens of thousands of naturalized citizens, Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest pick finds himself in need of Democratic support. And the minority party’s doubts about — if not outright opposition to — his confirmation are growing. A longtime Abbott aide appointed to the post in December, David Whitley is set to face the Senate Nominations Committee on Thursday after almost two weeks of intense scrutiny of his decision to question the citizenship status of almost 100,000 voters using flawed data that seemingly singled out naturalized citizens for review. He’s since been named as a defendant in three lawsuits alleging the review was unconstitutional and violated federal safeguards for voters of color, who are more likely to support Democrats. And he’s facing questions from Democratic lawmakers about why he handed that list of voters to the attorney general’s office for possible prosecution even before the names were reviewed by local elections officials.

Full Article: David Whitley could face a tough confirmation for Texas secretary of state | The Texas Tribune.

National: Inaccurate claims of noncitizen voting in Texas reflect a growing trend in Republican states | The Washington Post

When Texas officials announced in late January that as many as 58,000 noncitizens may have voted illegally in state elections over nearly two decades, top Republicans — including President Trump — quickly warned about the prevalence of voter fraud and the need to crack down on it. But just as quickly, the numbers stopped adding up. First, on Jan. 25, the secretary of state instructed counties to give voters 30 days to prove their citizenship before canceling their registration. Then, four days later, the office began calling local election officials to say that thousands of people on the list were in fact U.S. citizens, eligible to vote.

Full Article: Inaccurate claims of noncitizen voting in Texas reflect a growing trend in Republican states - The Washington Post.

Texas: Activists: Texas voter purge is latest effort to target voting rights | USA Today

The recent eye-popping claim by the Texas secretary of state’s office – that 95,000 registered voters in Texas may be ineligible because they’re not U.S. citizens – grabbed quick headlines and sprang into President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, rekindling fears of rampant voter fraud by non-U.S. citizens. Within a week, however, three lawsuits challenging the move and state officials erasing tens of thousands of names from that list have since raised questions about the validity and methodology of the claim. The clash over Texas voters comes amid allegations by voting rights’ activists of nationwide efforts to purge voters of color from rolls and influence elections, including aggressively going after alleged non-citizens registered to vote. Since 2013, Florida, New York, North Carolina and Virginia have conducted illegal purges, according to a recent study by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. The report also found that between 2014 and 2016, states removed almost 16 million voters from the rolls – or 4 million more than what was removed between 2006 and 2008. Many of those were improperly removed, the report said.

Full Article: Activists: Texas voter purge is latest effort to target voting rights.

Editorials: Time and time again, hyped claims of rampant illegal voting turn out to be untrue | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

It took just over a day for an announcement from the office of the Texas secretary of state hinting that thousands of noncitizens might have voted to make it into President Trump’s Twitter feed. “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote,” Trump wrote, apparently lifting the data from an episode of “Fox & Friends.” “These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country, especially in California, voter fraud is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID!” A bit later, he retweeted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who hyped the same numbers with an all-caps intro: “VOTER FRAUD ALERT.” Paxton’s presentation of the argument was at least nuanced in a way that Trump’s wasn’t. He pointed out that the 95,000 noncitizens had been identified as such by the Department of Public Safety. In fact, as the world quickly learned, it was even less firm than that. The name matches were weak (as the notice to counties indicated in an all-caps warning of its own), and in short order the state and individual counties started clearing names from the list as people’s statuses were confirmed. As our fact-checkers noted, it’s also more than possible that people on the list obtained citizenship since the time they first presented documentation to the state about their status. In 2016, more than 110,000 people in Texas were granted citizenship. Over the decade from 2007 to 2016, nearly a million people became citizens in the state.

Full Article: Time and time again, hyped claims of rampant illegal voting turn out to be untrue - The Washington Post.

Texas: Civil rights groups sue to stop ‘unlawful purge’ of thousands of voters | The Guardian

Civil rights groups have launched lawsuits accusing Texas officials of compiling a flawed list of voters that could see thousands of naturalized citizens wrongly expunged from electoral rolls, sparking a fierce political fight over alleged voter suppression. Four Texas-based organisations are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed on Monday that asks a federal court to stop the state from enacting an “unlawful purge” based on the flagging of about 95,000 people as potentially illegally registered to vote. It follows legal action initiated last week by Hispanic rights groups who contend the state is pursuing a voter suppression tactic that is likely to have a strong impact on minorities’ democratic rights. “This list is simply a way to target US citizens who are foreign-born as opposed to being any genuine effort to identify non-US citizens on the voter rolls,” said Nina Perales, vice-president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Full Article: Texas: civil rights groups sue to stop 'unlawful purge' of thousands of voters | US news | The Guardian.

Editorials: Where the hunt for voter fraud is worse than the crime itself | Karen Tumulty/The Washington Post

A massive scheme to commit voter fraud is going on right now in Texas. What makes it all the more cynical and twisted is that it is being perpetrated in the name of preventing voter fraud. And top officials in the state are complicit. It started on Jan. 25, with an alarmist, misleading advisory sent to county registrars, the officials who oversee voter rolls in the Lone Star State. Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, who until December had been deputy chief of staff to Gov. Greg Abbott (R), claimed in a news release that Department of Public Safety records showed nearly 100,000 registered voters had not been citizens when they applied for their driver’s licenses. More than half of them — 58,000 — had voted in at least one election. The advisory acknowledged these were “WEAK matches” (the advisory’s capitalization, not mine). But the secretary of state said local officials should demand that all of those named produce evidence of citizenship. If they failed to respond or provide documents within 30 days, those voters could be purged from the rolls. Whitley also noted that knowingly voting in an election when a person is not eligible is a second-degree felony in Texas. From there, predictably, the echo chamber took over.

Full Article: Where the hunt for voter fraud is worse than the crime itself - The Washington Post.

National: Black caucus members explore voting rights issues | Brownsville Herald: Local News

The first Voting Rights and Elections listening session of the U.S. Committee on House Administration took place Monday in Brownsville at the invitation of U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela as part of a day of events he hosted in recognition of Black History Month. Several members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses took part in the session, which was led by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, CHA Elections Subcommittee chair-designee, and which and took place at the Cameron County Courthouse Oscar C. Dancy Building. … The members of Congress heard testimony from a panel made up of veteran voting and civil rights attorneys Chad Dunn, George Korbel and Rolando Rios; Mimi Marziani, attorney and president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, and Matthew McCarthy, representing the American Civil Liberties Union.

Full Article: Black caucus members explore voting rights issues - Brownsville Herald: Local News.

Kansas: With Kris Kobach Out Of Office, His Voting Policies Could Wither In Kansas | KMUW

Former Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach rewrote the rules for voting in Kansas. Laws he pushed for required voters to show citizenship papers to register and ID at the polls. He secured prosecutorial powers for his office. Kobach’s term only ended a couple weeks ago, but some cornerstones of his legacy are already starting to crumble. A federal court knocked down the state’s voter registration rule last summer. Interstate Crosscheck, a voter records system that Kobach said could help states maintain their voter rolls and spot double voting, is currently on hold and could be abandoned. The new secretary of state wants to take the spotlight off the office. Republican Scott Schwab was sworn in on Jan. 14 and quickly backed one significant change.

Full Article: With Kris Kobach Out Of Office, His Voting Policies Could Wither In Kansas | KMUW.

Michigan: New emails show GOP used maps to consolidate Republican power | Bridge Magazine

New evidence submitted on the eve of a landmark trial challenging Michigan’s GOP-drawn legislative districts appears to strengthen the claim the maps were drawn in 2011 for partisan, Republican gain. Emails and other documents filed over the weekend in federal court show that Republicans saw the redistricting process as a way to consolidate its power and ensure a GOP majority in the state house, senate and the U.S. Congressional delegation. “Now that we had a spectacular election outcome, it’s time to make sure Democrats cannot take it away from us in 2011 and 2012,” according to a “redistricting essentials” memo issued in November, 2010, by the national Republican Party and shared with the Michigan GOP just after it swept to historic majorities in Michigan.

Full Article: New emails show Michigan GOP used maps to consolidate Republican power | Bridge Magazine.

North Carolina: Voter-fraud investigation in North Carolina focuses on immigrants | The Washington Post

At about 4 a.m. on Aug. 23, federal agents rousted Jose Solano-Rodriguez from his bed in the suburbs of Raleigh. A couple of hours later, three agents knocked on Hyo Suk George’s door as she fed her rabbits and chickens in rural Columbus County. Jose Ramiro-Torres was at his job at a fencing company near the Outer Banks when his girlfriend called to tell him to come home, where federal agents were waiting. In all, 20 immigrants – two still in pajamas – were rounded up over several days, many of them handcuffed and shackled, and charged with voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. The sweep across eastern North Carolina was one of the most aggressive voting-fraud crackdowns by a Trump-appointed prosecutor – and also a deliberate choice that demonstrates where the administration’s priorities stand. At the time of the arrests, an organized ballot-tampering effort that state officials had repeatedly warned about was allegedly gearing up in the same part of North Carolina. The operation burst into public view after Election Day in November, when the state elections board, citing irregularities in the mail-in vote, refused to certify the results of the 9th Congressional District race. That seat remains unfilled while state officials investigate.

Full Article: Voter-fraud investigation in North Carolina focuses on immigrants.

Editorials: Texas Republicans are lying about fraud to justify a racist voter purge | Mark Joseph Stern/Slate

On Jan. 25, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted a “VOTER FRAUD ALERT” that quickly rocketed around the internet. Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, Paxton asserted, had discovered that approximately “95,000 individuals identified” as non-citizens are registered to vote in the state, “58,000 of whom have voted” in Texas elections. Whitley promptly urged counties to begin purging these 95,000 people from their voter rolls, demanding proof of citizenship within 30 days or canceling their registrations. Donald Trump joined the action, tweeting on Jan. 27 that Whitley’s numbers “are just the tip of iceberg.” Voter fraud, Trump wrote, “is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID!”

Full Article: Texas Republicans are lying about fraud to justify a racist voter purge..

Texas: Voter-Fraud Claims Don’t Have to Be True to Achieve Their Goal | The Atlantic

Federal courts struck down Texas’s original voter-ID law, which would have required certain forms of government-issued identification in order to vote, deeming it intentional discrimination against minorities. But GOP officials who lead the state argued that the passage and implementation of the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud, and last year Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accepted the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold a slightly revised version of the law that would allow other forms of identity verification for people who can’t get the proper government-issued documentation. Yet Republicans still don’t think the regulation has done the job. Last week, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley’s office sent an advisory to counties involving a list of people who’d been identified as potential noncitizens with a matching voter-registration record. Activists and media criticized the list as inaccurate and misleading. But that didn’t stop GOP officials from using the list as definitive proof of rampant voter fraud, despite having no evidence that anyone had voted illegally. Their fervor seemed to add to the suspicion that the party has an endgame well beyond “ballot security,” and to the fear that new forms of voter suppression are just on the horizon.

Full Article: Why Trump Is Talking About Voter Fraud in Texas - The Atlantic.