Are Lawmakers Protecting Our Elections?

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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is using the platform she established while running for president to make sure that every vote counts in 2020 — and that other countries stay out of US elections.

“Russia attacked our elections to make Donald Trump president of the United States. They — and others — will try it again. Hand-marked paper ballots and upgrades to our election infrastructure are vital to protecting our democracy,” Harris tweeted last week.

We know that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election — not Ukraine, as Trump, Republicans, and Fox News will have you believe. We also know that Russia is at it again. So the question remains: Why are Republican lawmakers still blocking efforts to safeguard US elections?

Are lawmakers protecting our elections? Last week, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) objected to a unanimous consent request by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to pass the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act. Van Hollen and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the bill together earlier this year and would require the Director of National Intelligence to impose sanctions on any countries found to be meddling in US elections.

It’s not the only bill to deter foreign interference in elections that Republicans have blocked in recent months. Another bill that was shot down earlier this year would have required candidates to contact the FBI if a foreign government offered them information or assistance. (read more)

Texas is targeting college students: It appears to be yet another effort by a Republican-controlled state to make it harder for a key voting bloc to cast ballots in 2020.

More college students are voting now than ever. Many of them prefer Democratic candidates. So, this time, the state legislature outlawed “mobile” polling places — and college students responded with a lawsuit. (read more)

More voter suppression in the Peach State: A new report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that mass polling place closures that followed the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act had a “clear link between turnout and reduced voting access.” The closures suggest that nearly 85,000 voters were prevented from casting a ballot in 2018.

That’s more than the margin by which Democrat Stacey Abrams lost to Republican Brian Kemp in last year’s gubernatorial race. It should come as no surprise to anybody who has followed Georgia’s many voter suppression efforts that these precinct closures affected African American voters the most. (read more)

Voter Roll Purge Alert: Not everyone votes in every election, and that’s undoubtedly caused many headaches among voting-rights groups. When voters sit out enough elections, some states take that as an opportunity to remove them from the voter rolls.

This time, a federal judge ordered Wisconsin’s planned voter-roll purge to begin much earlier than anticipated because the state’s Election Commission claimed those voters moved out of state. The purge was supposed to happen in 2021, but now it could impact up to 234,000 voters ahead of the 2020 election. (read more)

Conservatives give ranked-choice voting a chance: Voters in Utah used ranked-choice voting for the first time in municipal elections this year, and things appeared to go smoothly. Utah joined 15 cities and Maine in using ranked-choice voting, and even Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are reportedly considering it. (read more)

Rights restored: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) delivered on his campaign promise to restore voting rights for the more than 140,000 people with felony convictions in an executive order. It’s another major win for voting-rights groups — last year, voters in Florida passed a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights for ex-felons. (read more)

Iowa is now the only state that bars ex-felons from automatically having their voting rights restored after completing their sentences. But Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has been pushing for a constitutional amendment — and state lawmakers are said to be considering it. (read more)

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WhoWhatWhy’s Election Integrity Weekly keeps you informed of who wants to tip the scales, what they are planning, and why they are doing it. Check out previous newsletters here.

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