Election Integrity Weekly Newsletter | WhoWhatWhy

WhoWhatWhy has been a leader in covering election integrity. That makes us uniquely qualified to inform our readers about the threats to US democracy from within and from abroad.

With arguably the most consequential election in recent US history underway, our weekly election integrity newsletter keeps you informed of who wants to undermine US democracy, what they are planning, why they are doing it — and what you can do about it.

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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...

December 23, 2019

Automatic Voter Registration Efforts Face Setbacks

Automatic Voter Registration Efforts Face Setbacks: The Massachusetts state legislature passed a bill in 2018 that would automatically register eligible voters once they interacted with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). But once voting rights advocates learned that the RMV was working to implement a more confusing version of what the legislature passed, they urged lawmakers to reinforce the language of its automatic voter registration bill. So the legislature included language in its budget bill that would have delayed implementation until April 1. But GOP Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed that section because state agencies “have worked diligently to prepare for its January...

December 16, 2019

Are Lawmakers Protecting Our Elections?

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...

December 9, 2019

Gerrymandering Prisoners

Earlier this year, a federal court in Connecticut allowed the NAACP to proceed in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit to challenge a widely overlooked population impacted by gerrymandering: inmates. The plaintiffs in the case allege that prison gerrymandering — counting inmates in districts with prisons during the census instead of where that person last lived —particularly disenfranchises low-income and communities of color. If successful, this case could lay the groundwork for other fair maps advocates to challenge prison gerrymandering in the courts. What may seem like a small difference has sweeping consequences. States rely on census data to draw new legislative maps and allocate...

December 2, 2019

Campaign Finance Reform News

It all started with an effort to get big money out of politics. Now, lawmakers and campaign finance reform advocates might end up right back where they started. Last week, the Supreme Court remanded a Ninth Circuit Court ruling that upheld Alaska’s strict campaign finance laws for further review. The legislature passed a $500 contribution limit for individuals and banned corporations from directly contributing to campaigns in 2015 — one of the lowest limits in the country. The Ninth Circuit will reconsider whether the $500 limit violates Alaskans’ First Amendment right after not taking into consideration the Supreme Court’s 2006...

November 25, 2019

Yang’s Plan to Reform US Elections

Ahead of the fifth Democratic presidential primary debate in Georgia, a state that has been mired in election security concerns and faced allegations of voter suppression, 2020 candidate Andrew Yang revealed his plan to reform US elections and increase participation. Yang’s plan is four-pronged: Combat voter suppression by restoring key parts of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling, ban voter ID laws, pass same-day and automatic voter registration, and expand mail-in ballots and early voting Increase access to the ballot box and address the needs of populations with unique barriers by passing the...

November 18, 2019

Louisiana Dem Governor Re-elected

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards will return to the governor’s mansion for another four years in what is being considered pushback against President Donald Trump, who stumped for his Republican challenger. Now, with just months before the 2020 presidential primary election, Edwards will need to work with state lawmakers and election officials to upgrade Louisiana’s decades-old voting system. Last year Edwards refused to reinstate a voided multimillion-dollar contract to Dominion Voting Systems after election integrity experts recommended against purchasing their ballot-marking devices (BMD), which have been known to have numerous security flaws. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said in April...