Corruption of all kinds is rampant in state governments, but the most systemic and insidious form of it is the corruption of our democracy itself. States, often considered “laboratories of democracy,” have over the past decade — and especially since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that severely weakened the Voting Rights Act — systematically been making it harder for people to exercise the right to vote. Multiple states have inappropriately purged hundreds of thousands of names from their voter rolls; others have enacted strict voter-ID laws; and others still have moved, closed, or underfunded voting locations. The pretext for these efforts is often the purported fear of voter fraud, though evidence of any real threat from such fraud remains nonexistent.
American Oversight is currently investigating voter-suppression efforts in Florida, Georgia and Texas. Each has one-party control of its government, and each has seen voter-suppression efforts. We’ve filed records requests for state officials’ and county officials’ communications with prominent voting-restriction advocates, such as former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky. Other records requests seek communications with certain state lawmakers or representatives of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative political organization that supplies state legislatures with draft model legislation.
State-level corruption takes many forms, not just voter suppression. American Oversight plans to target as much of it as possible, wherever we find it. It was Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who referred to states as the laboratories of democracy, and first said that sunlight is the “best of disinfectants.” Using transparency tools backed by litigation, American Oversight takes that truth to heart.