Two Pennsylvania state lawmakers are making a disputed claim in a long-running, and possibly futile, effort by elections officials to determine how many non-U.S. citizens had registered to vote over the years. On Tuesday, the lawmakers, Republican state Reps. Daryl Metcalfe and Garth Everett, issued a statement saying there had been confirmation that 11,198 foreign nationals had illegally registered to vote in Pennsylvania. But that is not what state election officials said. The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, first reported in July that it had identified 11,198 registered voters with some indicator they may not have been a citizen. The department did not give a specific period of time for when those people registered, but said it searched every record in its database. All the names turned up in a search of the state driver license database; Pennsylvania allows residents to register to vote while getting their license, and election officials reported a flaw in that system in 2016. That’s not where it ends.Full Article: Specious claims dog Pennsylvania’s noncitizen voter search | pennlive.com.
Texas: “Someone did not do their due diligence.” How an attempt to review Texas’ voter rolls turned into a debacle | The Texas Tribune
State Rep. Rafael Anchia had been alarmed by the actions of the Texas secretary of state’s office for days by the time the agency’s chief, David Whitley, walked into the Dallas Democrat’s Capitol office on Monday. The Friday before, Whitley’s staff had issued a bombshell press release calling into question the citizenship of 95,000 registered voters in Texas. Soon after, Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups were raising serious questions about how many people on that list were actually non-citizens who are ineligible to vote. But before those doubts emerged, Whitley, the top election officer in the state, had handed over information about those registered voters to the Texas attorney general, which has the jurisdiction to prosecute them for felony crimes. So as Anchia sat at the end of his green, glass-topped conference table, he wanted to know: Did Whitley know for sure that any of the names on his list had committed crimes by voting as noncitizens? “No,” Whitley answered, according to Anchia.Full Article: Texas went looking for voter fraud. Then everything fell apart. | The Texas Tribune.
Texas: Civil rights group sues Texas over order to investigate potential noncitizen voters with flawed data | Dallas Morning News
A civil rights group has sued Texas for advising counties to review the citizenship of tens of thousands of eligible voters in the state with flawed data, claiming it violates the voting rights of U.S. citizens and legally registered Texas voters who are foreign-born. The lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund alleges the state has “singled out for investigation and removal” the names of U.S. citizens who are registered voters because they were born outside the United States. It asks for an injunction to prevent recently naturalized citizens from being investigated and a rescission of the state’s advisory to comb through a list of 58,000 people whom state officials said had potentially voted while not citizens.Full Article: Civil rights group sues Texas over order to investigate potential noncitizen voters with flawed data | Politics | Dallas News.
Last Friday afternoon, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton took to Twitter to blast out alarming news. “VOTER FRAUD ALERT,” the tweet said. “The @TXsecofstate discovered approx 95,000 individuals identified by DPS as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in TX, approx 58,000 of whom have voted in TX elections.” The tweet ricocheted across the internet for two hours before the state sent notice of the explosive number of suspected non-citizen voters to county election officials, who are charged with verifying the initial findings and purging any ineligible voters. The state had been working on the analysis since March 2018, but it took the elections officials less than a day to spot glaring errors. By Tuesday, the original list of 95,000 had been cut to roughly 75,000 names. “I can’t speculate as to why the original list had mistakes,” said Williamson County Elections Administrator Chris Davis, who is President of the Texas Association of Elections Administrators and was among the first to notify the state of inaccuracies. “We weren’t, my county, wasn’t consulted on search parameters or methodology.”Full Article: Texas officials launched voter purge with big splash, little accuracy - HoustonChronicle.com.
Editorials: Mitch McConnell just made it much easier for Democrats to accuse Republicans of voter suppression | Eugene Scott/The Washington Post
Democrats are going all in on voting rights ahead of the 2020 election. This week, House Democrats introduced a bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday. Experts say that would increase voter turnout, especially among minority voters and low-income people who aren’t able to take off work to vote. It’s a popular idea. Business and civic leaders have been offering a similar proposal for years, and Congress considered bills to make it so in 2001, 2002 and 2005. Election Day is a holiday in France, Australia and Mexico. But it’s unpopular with one key demographic: Republicans. The GOP has supported efforts to restrict voting access in the country and is opposed to the Democrats’ idea.Full Article: Mitch McConnell just made it much easier for Democrats to accuse Republicans of voter suppression - The Washington Post.
Texas: Abbott sticks by flawed list of non-citizen voters, says review should continue | Dallas Morning News
Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday said the flawed list of tens of thousands of non-citizens who had potentially voted released by his secretary of state is a “work in progress” and that state and local officials should continue their reviews. “This is a list that we need to work on together to make sure that those who do not have the legal authority to vote are not going to be able to vote,” he said. “This is what you would categorize as a process, a work in progress. They’ll get it right.” On Friday, Secretary of State David Whitley, who was appointed by Abbott in December, sent an advisory to counties saying that about 95,000 people who received driver licenses — while legally in the country, but not U.S. citizens — also appeared on Texas voter rolls. Of them, 58,000 voted in one or more elections between 1996 and 2018, Whitley’s office said. It asked counties to review the eligibility of people on the list.Full Article: Abbott sticks by flawed list of non-citizen voters in Texas, says review should continue | Politics | Dallas News.
For those of you keeping track of the “As Texas goes, so goes the nation” notion, I have either very good or very bad news. The state that gave you two recent mediocre-to-crummy Republican presidents (who are starting to look downright Lincolnesque compared to you-know-who), gerrymandering in the guise of redistricting (thanks a lot, Tom DeLay) and a profound if misguided antipathy to government in general is now surging ahead in a new field: voter suppression. As someone who loves Texas with a triple shot of ambivalence, I take no pleasure in spreading this news. But if it is your goal to keep people of color from the polls — some Republican leaders come to mind — it’s time once again to look to Texas for guidance. Our state officials in their infinite wisdom last week announced that they hoped to excise 95,000 people from voter rolls because they didn’t seem to be citizens. Our secretary of state, David Whitley, insisted that, with the help of the Department of Public Safety, he had been able to compile a list of those supposedly illegally registered. It was even suggested that 58,000 of those folks had actually already voted, a felony in these parts. This finding was heralded in a tweet by our attorney general, Ken Paxton, as an all-caps “Voter Fraud Alert.” Paxton, you may or may not know, is himself under indictment for securities fraud.Full Article: Opinion | The Voter Suppression State - The New York Times.
Editorials: Voter suppression carries slavery’s three-fifths clause into the present | Imani Perry/The Guardian
Two decades ago, while a law student, I took a class titled The Federalist Papers. Our small group sat in a small seminar room off of the library, a collection of nerds – most, I gathered, aspiring to be judges or academics rather than following the tide of corporate practice. I was one of two women, and the only Black student in the room: an experience of oddity I had grown used to. As I recall, we spent the most time poring over Federalist 51, the paper that outlines the fundamentals of what we now term Madisonian democracy. But the part I personally sat with, long after the class was over, was Federalist 54, mostly likely also authored by Madison. Like many African Americans, I had come of age hearing about how the three-fifths clause – which proposed that three out of every five slaves be counted to determine a state’s population – was a mark of how we Black people were not deemed fully human when the constitution was first ratified. Here, fully elaborated, was an earnest, though tortured, justification for the enshrinement of indecency. That classic essay remains key to understanding race in the United States.Full Article: Voter suppression carries slavery's three-fifths clause into the present | Opinion | The Guardian.
A claim made last week by the Texas secretary of state — that 95,000 registered voters had a citizenship status that could not be determined — appeared to fall apart on Tuesday when local election officials said many of the people were known to be United States citizens.
Some registered to vote when they applied for a driver’s license at the Texas Department of Public Safety, which requires them to prove citizenship status to state officials. Others registered at naturalization ceremonies, a data point to which state officials said they did not have access.
Election officials in Harris County, home to Houston, said they received 30,000 names — the largest single batch of potential noncitizen voters — from the secretary of state’s office on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, they had determined that roughly 400 of those names were duplicates and 60 percent so far of the others were United States citizens.
“We are not willing to conclude at this point that we know of anybody on this list who is not a United States citizen,” Douglas Ray, special assistant attorney for Harris County, said. “We may determine that at a later time, and we are going to investigate that very carefully, but as you can tell by the numbers, so far things ain’t looking good for this list,” referring to the state’s claim.
Local officials reported similar findings on Tuesday in Fort Bend County, outside of Houston; Travis County, home to the state capital, Austin; and Williamson County, outside of Austin. All said they had been instructed by the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday to disregard the names of voters who registered at state public-safety offices.Many Texas Voters Whose Citizenship Was Questioned Are in Fact Citizens - The New York Times.
After flagging tens of thousands of registered voters for citizenship reviews, the Texas secretary of state’s office is now telling counties that some of those voters don’t belong on the lists it sent out. Officials in five large counties — Harris, Travis, Fort Bend, Collin and Williamson — told The Texas Tribune they had received calls Tuesday from the secretary of state’s office indicating that some of the voters whose citizenship status the state said counties should consider checking should not actually be on those lists. The secretary of state’s office incorrectly included some voters who had submitted their voting registration applications at Texas Department of Public Safety offices, according to county officials. Now, the secretary of state is instructing counties to remove them from the list of flagged voters. “We’re going to proceed very carefully,” said Douglas Ray, a special assistant county attorney in Harris County, where 29,822 voters were initially flagged by the state. A “substantial number” of them are now being marked as citizens, Ray said.Full Article: Texas voter citizenship review list has problems, state tells counties | The Texas Tribune.
For some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, Friday’s announcement that state officials had identified 95,000 registered voters as possible non-U.S. citizens provided all the proof they needed to confirm suspicions that illegal voting is pervasive. Democrats and civil rights activists greeted the news skeptically, arguing that the scenario described by Texas Secretary of State David Whitley mirrored the GOP playbook under Trump by using inflated accusations to justify cracking down on voting rights, particularly for minority voters. “Make no mistake,” said Beth Stevens, the voting rights legal director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. “The state is going to use this highly suspect ‘investigation’ to try to pass laws that will make it harder for eligible Texas voters to cast a ballot that counts.”Full Article: Specter of illegal Texas voters draws skepticism - News - Austin American-Statesman - Austin, TX.
The Texas secretary of state’s office announced Friday it would send local election officials a list of 95,000 registered voters who the state says counties should consider checking to see whether they are U.S. citizens and, therefore, legally eligible to vote. In an advisory released Friday afternoon, the office said it was flagging individuals who had provided the Texas Department of Public Safety with some form of documentation — including a work visa or a green card — that showed they were not a citizen when they were obtaining a driver’s license or an ID card. Among the individuals flagged, about 58,000 individuals cast a ballot in one or more elections from 1996 to 2018, the secretary of state’s office said. It’s unclear exactly how many of those individuals are not actually U.S. citizens and whether that number will be available in the future. In its notice to counties, the secretary of state’s office said the names should be considered “WEAK” matches, using all capital letters for emphasis.Full Article: Texas Officials Flag Tens Of Thousands Of Voters For Citizenship Checks | Texas Public Radio.
A big piece of Kris Kobach’s legacy appears to be on its way out as Kansas lawmakers move forward on parallel tracks to repeal the authority of the secretary of state to prosecute election crimes. The House Judiciary Committee is considering one bill to do that, introduced by Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita. The House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice is considering a slightly different version requested by Attorney General Derek Schmidt last week. Either would revoke the authority the secretary of state now has to take people to court if they violate laws related to voting. Kobach, a lawyer, fought for years to get that authority when he served in the post, finally winning the battle in 2015. He was convinced that it held the key to stop what he believed was widespread fraudulent voting by illegal immigrants.Full Article: With Kobach gone, bills target his legacy of prosecuting vote fraud | The Wichita Eagle.
Wisconsin: Judge eliminates early voting limits approved by GOP lawmakers during lame-duck session | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Moving swiftly, a federal judge on Thursday struck down limits on early voting that Republican lawmakers approved last month in a lame-duck session. In a five-page ruling, U.S. District Judge James Peterson concluded the new limits on early voting are invalid because they so closely mirror ones he struck down as unconstitutional in 2016. His decision also threw out parts of the lame-duck laws affecting IDs and other credentials that can be used for voting. “This is not a close question: the three challenged provisions are clearly inconsistent with the (2016) injunctions that the court has issued in this case,” Peterson wrote.Full Article: Wisconsin lame-duck lawsuit: Judge eliminates early voting limits.
Texas: Trump administration opposes a return to federal oversight for Texas redistricting, reversing Obama-era stance | The Texas Tribune
In the latest about-face on voting rights under President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Justice no longer supports efforts to force Texas back under federal oversight of its electoral map drawing.
In legal filings this week, the Justice Department indicated it would side against the voters of color, civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers who want a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio to require Texas to seek pre-approval of its legislative and congressional maps, given previous maps that the federal judges ruled discriminatory.
“The United States no longer believes that [federal supervision] is warranted in this case,” federal attorneys said in their filing to the court.
It’s the latest twist in the high-stakes legal fight that could return Texas to the days when it couldn’t make changes to its maps without the Justice Department or a federal court first ensuring that state lawmakers weren’t infringing on the political clout of voters of color — a voting rights safeguard that was in place for decades until 2013. And it’s the most recent reversal by the Justice Department in the case.
Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department sided with those challenging the state’s maps as discriminatory. But last year, Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler joined state attorneys in convincing the U.S. Supreme Court that Texas’ current congressional and state House maps, which were adopted in 2013, were legally sound.
In approving the state’s current maps, the high court in June wiped out a ruling by the San Antonio panel that found the maps were tainted with discrimination that was meant to thwart the voting power of Hispanic and black voters, oftentimes to keep white incumbents in office. But seemingly left untouched were previous findings of intentional discrimination at the hands of the state lawmakers who first redrew the state’s maps in 2011.
The state’s opponents are now pointing to some of those 2011 violations in asking the San Antonio panel to consider returning Texas to federal guardianship of its maps.Trump admin decides Texas doesn't need federal oversight for redistricting | The Texas Tribune.
The first public hearings on two bills that would effectively repeal two controversial laws that many Democrats view as voter suppression measures filled a double committee room at the Legislative Office Building on Thursday. Outside the packed third-floor room, supporters waved signs saying, “Restore Voting Rights” and “Granite Stater, Granite Voter” as elected officials, citizens and lobbyists took turns telling members of the House Election Law Committee why they should either back House Bills 105 and 106 or deep six them both. Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, who co-sponsored both bills, said they are important to his constituents because of the University of New Hampshire where he believes students will be unduly impacted by having to pay fees for licenses and car registrations to prove residency.Full Article: Lawmakers hear bills to repeal GOP-led voter registration laws.
National: Court allows Republicans to pursue “ballot security” measures aimed at minority voters | Salon
federal court decision may open the door for the Republican National Committee to bring back “ballot security” measures allegedly designed to intimidate minority voters. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a district court decision that ended a longstanding order banning the RNC from using “ballot security” measures that have been seen as suppressing minority voters. With President Trump having taken over the RNC ahead of the 2020 election, voting rights advocates are concerned that Republicans will ramp up suppression efforts in the president’s re-election fight. The order had been in place since 1982, after the Democratic National Committee sued the RNC over “ballot security” measures the DNC claimed had “attempted to intimidate the minority voters” in a New Jersey gubernatorial election and violated the Voting Rights Act.Full Article: Court allows Republicans to pursue "ballot security" measures aimed at minority voters | Salon.com.
Editorials: Protecting voices of all voters is critical to free and fair elections | Paul Smith/The Hill
Popular sentiment for election reform continues to grow, and lawmakers in Washington are finally listening. On the first day of the new Congress, the House introduced its first bill. Its purpose is to protect the voices of all voters in the political process and restore trust in government. Given the troubling injuries to our democracy inflicted by several recent Supreme Court decisions, such legislative solutions have become sorely needed. These Supreme Court decisions over the years have chipped away at key safeguards, including the Voting Rights Act and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, both put in place to protect the integrity of our elections. This regressive trend has led to increased voter suppression all across the country and unprecedented dark money in campaigns. Together, they contribute to a sense that American democracy no longer functions.Full Article: Protecting voices of all voters is critical to free and fair elections | TheHill.
A consent decree that limited Republican Party’s use of controversial poll-watching and ballot security efforts for more than three decades appears consigned to the scrap heap of history after a federal appeals court rebuffed a move by Democrats that could have led to restoration of the long-running court order. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the Democratic National Committee’s attempt to reopen discovery aimed at proving that the Republican National Committee violated the order in 2016 as then-candidate Donald Trump pressed publicly for a crackdown on what he contended was likely election fraud. After the election, Trump famously claimed — without evidence — that millions of illegal immigrants cast ballots in the presidential contest. Despite Trump’s public calls for his supporters to keep a close eye on certain neighborhoods, the three-judge panel unanimously ruled Monday that Democrats had not made a sufficient showing that the depositions they wanted to take were likely to show that the RNC actually responded to Trump’s entreaties.Full Article: DNC loses appeal on Republican election tactics - POLITICO.
Editorials: Why voters shouldn’t have to, but must be vigilant about their right to vote | Caleb Gayle /The Hill
In the deluge of news during the 2018 election cycle, many might have missed the case of Larry Harmon, a Navy veteran, who had entered his local polling place in 2015 because he wanted to vote on a marijuana legalization ballot initiative to find that he was not on the voter rolls. He had been unimpressed by the candidates during the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections and had sat out those elections, not realizing that doing so would cost him ability to cast a ballot in 2015. Mr. Harmon’s case made it to the Supreme Court last year, which should put all voters on notice — that their right to vote requires an extra measure of protection. As we recover briefly from the hangover of the 2018 election cycle only to quickly enter the soon-to-be crowded field of the 2020 cycle, our attention will naturally turn to swing states. Mr. Harmon was from one of the most critical swing states — Ohio — and as a result of his case, voters all over the country need to become more vigilant. For people of color, the ability to vote may be under special threat.Full Article: Why voters shouldn’t have to, but must be vigilant about their right to vote | TheHill.