WhoWhatWhy’s Election Integrity Weekly is written by Gabriella Novello, and edited by William Dowell and Chris Carley. Have a tip or want to suggest a story? Send us an email at

Honoring a Civil Rights Icon: We lost a giant on Friday. Rep. John Lewis, known as the “Conscience of the Congress,” spent his entire life fighting to protect democracy. Lewis played a pivotal role in the creation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and spent his final months advocating for the Senate to pass H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Voting rights should not be a partisan issue, but there is no disputing that it has become one. Last year, on the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act being signed into law, the Georgia representative reminded us of why the right to vote is paramount. In his own words:

We must confront the fact that there are forces in our society that want to reverse that democratic legacy. They do not want to be subject to the will of the people, but prefer a society where the wealthy have a greater say in the future of America than their numbers would dictate. They want to eliminate checks and balances and pave a route to a freewheeling environment for corporations to make money, even at the expense of the least and most vulnerable among us. All we have to do is say no to this tyranny and begin to stand up and speak out for the heritage of equality and justice most Americans believe in.

Democrats are now renewing their efforts to pass H.R. 4 in honor of Lewis. Whether they succeed remains up for debate — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to bring the bill up for a vote, and Democrats are putting pressure on him to do so before the Senate breaks for August recess. (read more)

New Series Alert: The calendar says Election Day will be November 3, but there’s little agreement on anything else. Arguments about who can vote, and how those ballots should be cast and counted, are unlikely to end by the time the polls close.

That’s why we’re launching a new eight-part series — America Decides 2020 — where editors and reporters for WhoWhatWhy explore these critical issues, and how they could shape US democracy for years to come. First up: early voting, explained.

What is early voting, how can you cast an early ballot, and what happens if you want to change your vote on Election Day?

Early voting lets you cast your ballot as you would on Election Day, but in advance of a scheduled election. It comes in one of two ways: mail-in or absentee balloting, and in-person voting. Casting a ballot in person allows more flexibility and does not create the long lines we usually see on Election Day. (read more)

Next week, we discuss voting-by-mail. Stay tuned.

Felons’ Voting Rights Remains Uncertain: The Supreme Court declined to hear a case last week regarding whether individuals with past felony convictions must pay any outstanding fines or fees before they can register to vote. Nearly one million Floridians are now at risk of missing out on their right to vote this November.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case again next month; it’s been a long and hard-fought battle between voting-rights groups and the Florida State Legislature. Voters overwhelmingly passed a 2018 ballot measure to amend the state constitution and restore voting rights for former felons, but lawmakers included language requiring individuals to pay up first when they codified the amendment.

Justice Sonya Sotomayor, in her dissenting opinion, wrote that the law acted as a “voter paywall” and the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case “continues a trend of condoning disfranchisement.” (read more)

If Trump Doesn’t Accept the Election Results: We should expect to see nothing less than what we have already seen — a condemnation of how the election is being carried out and claims of widespread voter fraud.

“I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election,” Trump told Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday, adding that he “has to see” whether he will accept a potential loss this November. Buckle up, folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. (read more)

More Census Mayhem: The Supreme Court decided last year that the Trump administration could not add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. While a Supreme Court decision has historically been where most debates end, it is hardly the end for President Donald Trump.

The White House announced earlier today that Trump signed an executive order banning noncitizens from being counted in the 2020 Census. The ACLU is already out with a statement suggesting that it will file a federal lawsuit:

“The Constitution requires that everyone in the U.S. be counted in the census. President Trump can’t pick and choose,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “His latest attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities will be found unconstitutional. We’ll see him in court, and win, again.” (read more)

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