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March 2, 2020

2020 Dems Speak at Selma

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were the only presidential candidates to speak last night at the Selma Presidential Forum, moderated by MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Rev. Mark Thompson. “I want people to be shocked by the fact that one of the two major political parties in this country plans to win, and they’re pretty open about it, by keeping African Americans from voting,” Warren said. “We need to get out there and start arguing for a constitutional amendment to protect the right for every American citizen to vote and to get that vote counted… put some federal...

February 24, 2020

Report Alleges Voter Suppression in Alabama

Since the Supreme Court gutted a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Alabama lawmakers have taken a string of actions that disproportionately disenfranchise African American voters, according to a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The report states that the Republican-controlled state legislature implemented a voter ID law that targets minorities, closed polling places in predominantly minority communities, and made little effort to educate voters about a new felon re-enfranchisement law. “Alabama’s political leaders have instead promoted the myth of voter fraud, particularly in-person voter fraud — despite numerous studies finding that such fraud is virtually...

February 17, 2020

The Fight for Fair Maps Continues

When getting a say on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, voters across the country have spoken loud and clear: They are tired of it. In recent years, several ballot initiatives have passed with broad support that would result in the creation of fair maps. The latest example of this is Illinois: Fair maps advocates filed a proposed amendment to the state constitution. The proposal, known as the Fair Maps Amendment, would create an independent redistricting commission and allow public comment on a final map for 30 days. (read more) The Battle for Fair Maps: Ballot initiatives are an important tool for...

February 10, 2020

Navigating the Digital World

You might have heard about internet trolls “clogging” the precinct reporting hotline for the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) on caucus night. But, what really caused the massive delay in determining a winner was the apparent rush to implement a mobile app that the IDP asked precincts to use for reporting results. Backlash Continues in Iowa Over Mobile App: The goal was to streamline reporting the results because there are more than 1,000 precincts in Iowa. But there were a host of cybersecurity risks: precinct captains had to download the app onto their personal phones, and the app itself was riddled with coding mistakes. A cybersecurity...

February 3, 2020

Let the horse race (officially) begin

Georgia’s primary election is still a few weeks away, but it looks like it may be another mess in the Peach State. Once again, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is under scrutiny for the state’s new touchscreen voting machines. Raffensperger reportedly has repeated that paper ballots would be given “a physical recount,” but a proposed election rule will bar hand recounts and require any recount to be done through a machine. (read more) ICYMI: Last week, we learned that a cybersecurity expert found evidence that suggests the state’s central election server was hacked as recently as 2014. (read...

January 27, 2020

Felon Voting Rights and Vulnerable Voting Machines

High school students in Illinois that are eligible to vote will be allowed a two-hour excused absence to cast a ballot during the 2020 election. (read more) It’s a novel idea that came from high school students themselves, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed the bill last week. Efforts to expand voting rights has been a key issue for Democrats over the past few years. For example, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order just days after his inauguration to automatically restore voting rights to felons once they finish their sentences. Meanwhile, in Georgia... A cybersecurity expert for the Coalition for Good Governance,...

January 20, 2020

10th Anniversary of Citizens United

A few Oklahoma state senators want to offer residents “Make America Great Again”-themed license plates, a move that could violate campaign finance laws. Welcome to 2020… it’s going to be a bumpy ride. A Not-So-Happy Anniversary: This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark and controversial ruling in Citizens United. Ridiculous amounts of money in politics is not a new phenomenon, but it’s definitely gotten worse since then. That is why the Seattle City Council is taking up the charge and challenging that decision in its local elections. Since the Federal Election Commission can’t do much without a quorum (it’s been more...

January 13, 2020

The Hofeller Files Return, Part 2

Remember those files we shared with you last week? Well, we did some digging and found out that President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Federal Election Commission James “Trey” Trainor was also involved in gerrymandering schemes. Emails suggest that Trainor worked closely with the deceased GOP gerrymandering guru Thomas Hofeller and numerous local officials in Texas from 2011 to 2013 to draw maps that benefited Republican candidates in one of the largest counties near the greater-Houston area. Dozens of emails show that their work ramped up just weeks after the Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required...

January 6, 2020

The Hofeller Files Return, Part 1

The Hofeller Files Return: We received a massive document dump over the weekend with thousands of files to review regarding the deceased GOP-gerrymandering guru Thomas Hofeller and his efforts to help draw districts that favor the Republican party. We’ll have more information to share about what exactly these files contain, but after an initial review, we’ve found evidence that the Republican National Committee paid Hofeller tens of thousands of dollars, that race was considered in map proposals throughout the country, and that Hofeller was a fan of sharing his gerrymandering tips on poorly designed powerpoints. In the meantime, if you’d like...

December 30, 2019

Voter IDs and Roll Purges

No More Voter ID… for Now: A federal court in North Carolina foiled the GOP-majority legislature’s effort to require photo ID for voting last week. The decision comes as the state chapter of the NAACP awaits a trial regarding its December 2018 lawsuit against this law. If successful, the voter ID requirement could be struck down in its entirety before the 2020 primaries. Critics of the 2018 law argued that it was not an effort to combat voter fraud but a blatant effort to suppress turnout for communities of color and college students, as a federal court previously struck down a...