The Democratic National Committee is launching a new voting commission to combat a recently announced Trump administration effort — to investigate voter fraud — which Democrats fear will lead to voter suppression in poor and minority communities. The commission will document and report on “voter suppression tactics” and make recommendations for strengthening access to the polls for all Americans, according to a statement provided to USA TODAY. It is part of a broader restructuring by the committee’s new leadership that prioritizes voting rights after a number of U.S. states imposed new restrictions for the first time in 2016, including the swing states of Wisconsin and Virginia.
Editorials: Maine SoS Dunlap badly mistaken in agreeing to serve on Trump voter fraud panel | Richard Hasen/Portland Press Herald
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is making a serious mistake by agreeing to participate in a sham “voter integrity” commission established by President Trump to validate his ludicrous claims about voter fraud. But it is not too late for Dunlap to withdraw, and it’s the right thing to do. Arguments about the extent of voter fraud and voter suppression are not new, with Republicans tending to claim that voter fraud is a major problem that requires laws making it harder to register and vote, such as strict voter identification laws. Democrats see these laws as aimed at suppressing the votes of those likely to vote for Democratic candidates.
The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal court to enable documents from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s November meeting with President Donald Trump to be made public. Kobach earlier this month handed over the documents, which outline a proposed strategic plan for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, under a federal judge’s order. However, he marked the documents as confidential. The ACLU filed a motion with U.S. District Court of Kansas in Kansas City, Kan. late Monday seeking to remove that designation and enable their contents to be shared with the wider public.
The Texas House on Tuesday tentatively approved legislation to overhaul the state’s embattled voter identification law, moving it one step closer to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. Senate Bill 5 would in several ways relax what some had called the nation’s most stringent ID requirements for voters — a response to court findings that the current law discriminated against black and Latino voters. The 95-54 vote followed a six-hour debate that saw fierce pushback from Democrats, who argued the legislation wouldn’t go far enough to expand ballot access and contains provisions that might discourage some Texans from going to the polls. Democrats proposed a host of changes through amendments, a few of which surprisingly wriggled through.
When Kris Kobach, Kansas’ aggressive secretary of state, convinced the state legislature to give him prosecutorial power to pursue voter fraud, he said it was necessary to root out tens of thousands of undocumented aliens who were voting as well as tens of thousands more who he claimed were voting in two states. Two years later, Kobach has produced exactly nine convictions. Most of them were not illegal immigrants but rather older registered Republicans. Who Kobach targeted, and the controversial homegrown computer program he used to find them, matter even more now that he has been selected by President Trump to lead a commission on voter fraud. Kobach’s boss has claimed on numerous occasions, without evidence, that millions of illegal ballots cost him the popular vote. Kobach, despite his sweeping pronouncements to Kansas politicians, hasn’t found anything resembling a fraud of that proportion. What he found was Lincoln L. Wilson.
North Carolina: Despite high court’s decision on voting law, activists worry about chief justice | The Washington Post
The big win for voting rights activists at the Supreme Court last week came with an equally big asterisk, and provided new reason for jittery liberals and civil rights groups to continue to fret about Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. The justices without noted dissent on May 15 said they would not consider reviving North Carolina’s sweeping 2013 voting law, which had been struck down by a lower court after years of litigation. A unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had ruled that the state’s Republican legislative leadership had intentionally crafted the law to blunt the growing political power of African American voters.
A flurry of legislative activity Sunday night gave life to efforts to overhaul Texas’ voter identification rules — legislation Republicans call crucial to the state’s arguments in a high-profile legal battle over whether the state disenfranchised minority voters. After clearing the Senate in March, Sen. Joan Huffman’s Senate Bill 5, which in some ways would soften current photo ID rules, had languished in the House. But just an hour before the latest in a series of bill-killing deadlines, an emergency declaration by Gov. Greg Abbott helped push the legislation onto the House’s calendar. The bill will be eligible for a vote on Tuesday, the deadline for the House to approve Senate bills.
President Trump has empaneled a commission to investigate voter fraud. The real fraud is the commission itself. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is to be led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Mr. Kobach, a Republican, is a longtime champion of voter suppression laws who seconded as “absolutely correct” the president’s fabricated assertion that Hillary Clinton’s victory in the popular vote, which she won by nearly 3 million ballots, was a result of “millions of people who voted illegally.” Mr. Kobach is notorious for erecting impediments to the ballot box — specifically, ones that would disproportionately discourage and deter minority and other Democratic-leaning voters. His presence as the commission’s vice chair — Mr. Pence’s other responsibilities make it likely that Mr. Kobach will be the panel’s driving force — makes a farce of the idea that the commission’s work will be dispassionate, fair and clear-eyed.
North Carolina: Supreme Court won’t save North Carolina voting restrictions, GOP leaders say they will try again with new law | News & Observer
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider reinstating key provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 elections law overhaul, which includes a voter ID requirement and other restrictions on voting. Within hours of the release of the order, N.C. Republican Party leaders were calling for a new law that would incorporate some of the same ideas in a manner that they thought could withstand judicial review. The Supreme Court ruling gave few details about why the justices left a lower-court decision in place that struck down the restrictions, stating they “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”
National: ACLU files Right-to-Know request with Secretary of State over election commission | New Hampshire Union Leader
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire has filed a Right-to-Know request with Secretary of State Bill Gardner, seeking information about his participation in the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission is headed up by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The Right-to-Know request in New Hampshire is part of a national campaign targeting commission members who currently serve as secretaries of state.