A state Senate district in Mississippi dilutes black voting power and should be redrawn, three African-American plaintiffs say in a federal lawsuit filed Monday. The suit asks a judge to order legislators to reconfigure the district before the 2019 state elections. District 22 has a 51 percent black voting-age population, and the suit says it lacks “real electoral opportunity” for African-Americans. “The lack of opportunity is the result of white bloc voting and lower African-American turnout that are vestiges of the historical discrimination and extreme socio-economic disparities that have been inflicted upon African-Americans over a long period of time,” the lawsuit says.
Democrats in Tennessee’s largest county are accusing election officials of trying to suppress black votes in early voting preceding the August elections. Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Corey Strong on Wednesday criticized the decision by the county Election Commission to make Agricenter International the only open polling location on the first five days of the early voting process, which starts July 13. Strong said the location in suburban east Memphis is too far away for people who live in urban black neighborhoods who rely on public transportation to get to voting locations. He argued the location, plus three new suburban sites being opened later as early voting spots, will make it easier for Republicans to vote compared with Democrats.
Five years after the Supreme Court invalidated the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that certain states get federal approval to change their election laws, there are few places where the results are clearer than in Alabama, where the lawsuit began. Alabama has enacted a slew of restrictive laws and policies, many of whichdisproportionately affect African-Americans, Latinos and other marginalized groups. In this, it stands out only in degree, not in kind: All over the country, state legislators are making it harder to vote. State officials say the voting measures are intended to prevent election fraud. Here is the landscape of voting rights five years after the lawsuit, Shelby County v. Holder, through the lens of the state that started it. Within 24 hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Alabama announced that in 2014, it would start requiring photo identification to vote under a law passed in 2011 but stymied by the Voting Rights Act. The number of states with similar laws has since ballooned.
In the end, the decision seemed inevitable. After a seven-day trial in Kansas City federal court in March, in which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach needed to be tutored on basic trial procedure by the judge and was found in contempt for his “willful failure” to obey a ruling, even he knew his chances were slim. Kobach told The Kansas City Star at the time that he expected the judge would rule against him (though he expressed optimism in his chances on appeal). Sure enough, yesterday federal Judge Julie Robinson overturned the law that Kobach was defending as lead counsel for the state, dealing him an unalloyed defeat. The statute, championed by Kobach and signed into law in 2013, required Kansans to present proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, contending that the law violated the National Voter Registration Act (AKA the “motor voter” law), which was designed to make it easy to register.
A federal judge has struck down a Kansas voter citizenship law that Secretary of State Kris Kobach had personally defended. Judge Julie Robinson also ordered Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps. In an 118-page ruling Monday, Robinson ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision holds the potential to make registration easier as the August and November elections approach. Robinson’s ruling amounted to a takedown of the law that Kobach had championed and lawmakers approved several years ago. She found that it “disproportionately impacts duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing noncitizen voter registration.”
The last time Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature enacted a law making it harder for some of the state’s residents to vote, a federal court said the statute targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision,” and threw it out. That was last year. Now the legislators are back with a new set of election proposals, and an unconventional plan to make them stick. Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, Republican senators unveiled legislation that would eliminate the final Saturday of early voting in state elections, a day that typically draws a large share of black voters to the polls. That followed a Republican proposal last week to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would require all voters to display a photo ID before casting votes.
Breitbart News landed an election scoop that went viral in August 2016: “Exclusive: ‘Black Men for Bernie’ Founder to End Democrat ‘Political Slavery’ of Minority Voters… by Campaigning for Trump.” If the splashy, counterintuitive story, which circulated on such conservative websites as Truthfeed and Infowars, wasn’t exactly fake news, it was carefully orchestrated. The story’s writer—an employee of the conservative website run by Steve Bannon before he took over Donald Trump’s campaign—spent weeks courting activist Bruce Carter to join Trump’s cause. He approached Carter under the guise of interviewing him. The writer eventually dropped the pretense altogether, signing Carter up for a 10-week blitz aimed at convincing black voters in key states to support the Republican real estate mogul, or simply sit out the election. Trump’s narrow path to victory tightened further if Hillary Clinton could attract a Barack Obama-level turnout. Bannon’s deployment of the psychological-operations firm Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 campaign drew fresh attention this month, when a former Cambridge employee told a U.S. Senate panel that Bannon tried to use the company to suppress the black vote in key states. Carter’s story shows for the first time how an employee at Bannon’s former news site worked as an off-the-books political operative in the service of a similar goal.
While Democrats, Republicans, and the intelligence community are all warning about potential Russian meddling in the November midterm elections, ordinary citizens face even greater obstacles to exercising their vote. WhoWhatWhy spoke to voting rights and election integrity experts about the broad range of threats to voting access. They noted that there are other serious election concerns that voters should worry about this fall — challenges to the integrity of the voting process that are not getting enough attention in the mainstream media. In 2016, Donald Trump campaigned with a warning that the vote might be rigged against him. After winning the election but not the popular vote, President Trump — to prove his (completely unsubstantiated) claim that “millions voted illegally” — established a commission to address alleged voter fraud. The commission was later disbanded after many states refused to turn over sensitive voter data and allegations surfaced that its true purpose may have been voter suppression.
Four North Carolina voters can pursue their libel lawsuit against allies of former Gov. Pat McCrory and a Virginia law firm that tried to help the Republican politician’s unsuccessful effort to disqualify votes and win re-election in 2016, attorneys learned Tuesday. Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour notified attorneys he’s decided to allow the four plaintiffs to continue their claims against the Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund, the Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky law firm and four of the Warrenton, Virginia-based firm’s attorneys. The McCrory allies helped mount a last-ditch effort to sway a close election for governor by accusing voters in 52 counties of double voting and other misdeeds. The voters from Guilford and Brunswick counties sued after being falsely accused of felony voting crimes like casting ballots in multiple states.
National: Bannon directed Cambridge Analytica to research discouraging voter turnout, whistleblower says | The Hill
Whistleblower Christopher Wylie told House Democrats on Tuesday that former Trump campaign strategist Stephen Bannon asked Cambridge Analytica to research voter suppression techniques. Wylie told House Judiciary Democrats and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during a private briefing that Bannon directed the British research firm to explore methods for “discouraging particular types of voters who are more prone to voting for Democratic or liberal candidates.” The whistleblower also told House Democrats that Bannon directed the firm to test messaging regarding Russia, Vladimir Putin and Russian expansion in Eastern Europe. “It was the only foreign issue or foreign leader, I should say, being tested at the time I was there,” Wylie told lawmakers.