State Government Contacts with Voting-Restriction Activists

When state officials enact strict voter-ID laws or engineer intricately gerrymandered electoral maps or purge thousands of names from voter rolls, they’re not acting alone. Often, outside groups and activists have been working behind the scenes to promote measures designed to suppress the vote. American Oversight is investigating communications that members of the Florida, Georgia and Texas state governments — from elections officials to governors — have had with “voter fraud” activists and legislative lobbying groups that have been active across the country.

Corruption of all kinds is rampant in state governments, but the most systemic and insidious is the corruption of our democracy itself, specifically the wave of state laws that have made it harder for people to exercise the right to vote. The Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, which struck down the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, has only made it easier for states to enact strict voter-ID laws, close polling locations, and remove names from voter rolls.

Heavily gerrymandered maps and suppressive laws have often been revealed to be purely partisan exercises — consider the files of deceased Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller, which detailed the redistricting motivations of a census citizenship question, or the public statements of proponents of North Carolina’s 2013 “monster” voting law. Voting restrictions have also received support — and instigation — from outside actors operating under the purported fear of voter fraud, despite evidence of any real threat from such fraud being nonexistent. 

Those voter-fraud activists and groups include well-known names like former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (who also co-chaired President Donald Trump’s now-defunct voter-fraud commission); the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky; and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that supplies state governments with draft model legislation. American Oversight has requested records of communications those and other activists have had with state officials in Florida, Georgia and Texas — all states with one-party control of government, and all having seen voter-suppression efforts in recent years — to learn whether and to what extent such outside entities are influencing state elections policy.

 

OUR REQUESTS: GEORGIA

  • Communications between voting-restriction advocates — including Kris Kobach, Hans  von Spakovsky and Catherine Engelbrecht — and elections officials in the following counties: Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Dougherty, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hancock, Jefferson, Macon-Bibb, Randolph, Rockdale;
  • Communications that the offices of the governor and the secretary of state had with voting-restriction advocates, with representatives of ALEC, or with certain state legislators linked to ALEC;
  • Communications between the Georgia governor’s office and state officials involved in redistricting or law firms handling redistricting issues, as well as any communications from that office related to redistricting; and
  • Any communications about redistricting between the secretary of state’s office and state officials involved in redistricting.

OUR REQUESTS: FLORIDA

  • Communications between voting-restriction advocates and elections officials in the following counties: Broward, Collier, Duval, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach;
  • Communications that the offices of the governor and the secretary of state had with voting-restriction advocates, with representatives of ALEC, or with certain state legislators;
  • Records from the Florida Senate and House of Representatives related to ALEC’s August 2019 annual meeting in Austin, Texas;
  • Communications that Florida State Legislature staff had with state elections officials or voting-restriction advocates about voter registration issues, Amendment 4, or HB 7089;
  • Communications that State Rep. James Grant, the author of HB 7089, and two staff members had with voting-restriction advocates and state elections officials;
  • Communications between redistricting operatives and specific members of the Florida House of Representatives, including State Reps. Thad Altman, Jason Fischer, Mike La Rosa; and
  • Communications between local and national redistricting operatives and the Florida governor’s office, certain state senators and state representatives.

OUR REQUESTS: TEXAS

  • Communications between voting-restriction advocates and elections officials in the following counties: Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo, Starr, Tarrant, Travis, Zavala;
  • Communications that the offices of the governor and the secretary of state had with voting-restriction advocates, with representatives of ALEC, or with certain state legislators.

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