It’s been a week since Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s restrictive new voting law, which — among other measures that make voting harder — imposes stricter ID requirements for absentee voting, limits ballot drop boxes, and expands the state legislature’s power over county election officials.
On Wednesday, following a campaign by prominent Black business executives that called upon companies to oppose the law, the CEO of Georgia-based Delta Air Lines issued a statement calling the restrictions “unacceptable” and “based on a lie” about widespread voter fraud. The head of Coca-Cola, another Georgia-based company, said Coca-Cola did not support the legislation, which “makes it harder for people to vote, not easier.”
But the legislation, of course, has already been signed, and troubling new restrictions are still circulating in the legislatures of other states. The Brennan Center for Justice has updated its tally of new state voting provisions, finding that as of March 24, state legislators have introduced 361 new bills with further restrictions — an increase of more than 100 bills since their last update in February.
Meanwhile, as the New Yorker reported this week, well-funded conservative networks are working with allies in Congress against the broadly supported electoral reforms contained in H.R. 1, including campaign-spending limitations. Here are some other election- and redistricting-related headlines from across the country:
Far-Right Influence at Trump Commerce Department
In the Trump administration’s final year, following its failed bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, it sought to cut short the decennial count and to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment numbers used to divvy up congressional seats — strategies long sought by conservatives for diluting representation of groups less likely to support them. We published records from the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, that further demonstrate the influence of far-right and anti-immigration groups at the department.
The Creation of the DOJ ‘Denaturalization’ Section
Up till the end, the Trump administration was intent on advancing its anti-immigration agenda, including by creating a new section within the Justice Department focused on stripping citizenship from naturalized immigrants who had committed serious crimes. We obtained the application of the DOJ official who ultimately became the head of that section — here are highlights from his application along with background on the creation of the section.
Bureau of Prisons’ Early Lack of Pandemic Mitigation Measures
American Oversight obtained communications from the Federal Bureau of Prisons containing communications from March and April 2020 that provide further details of the agency’s pandemic response, showing that BOP relied on inadequate mitigation measures in dealing with a pandemic that has had a disproportionate impact on people in detention centers.
The Meatpacking Industry and Covid-19
The Milwaukee Independent reported on documents we obtained with Public Citizen that reveal the meatpacking industry’s fight against implementing Covid-19 safety measures for workers. Among the emails is guidance developed by the Food and Beverage Industry Alliance, shared on March 20, 2020, that said, “Unless required by authorities, physical (social) distancing should be a tool but not a requirement in facilities needed to operate at capacity.”
New DOJ Records published
We obtained a PowerPoint presentation on the Freedom of Information Act that was used in an October 2019 Justice Department training, which contains some rather interesting slides. The records were included in a response to our requests for former Attorney General William Barr’s calendars and phone logs. In a related request, we also obtained text messages Barr exchanged with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy following Barr’s July 2020 appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, where he defended the federal government’s use of force against protesters.
Two U.S. Capitol Police officers sue Trump and say he should be held responsible for January 6 attack (CNN)
Rand Paul to join summit held by organizer of rally that preceded Jan. 6 Capitol riot (Courier-Journal)
Report details wave of state legislative attempts to restrict abortion in 2021 (NBC News)
Kentucky lawmakers override veto of McConnell-backed Senate vacancy plan (Courier-Journal)
The Biden administration will investigate Trump-era attacks on science (New York Times)
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board was slashed by Trump. Its backlog is piling up. (Center for Public Integrity)
Stephen Miller to launch a new legal group to give Biden fits (Politico)
Lawyer: FBI enlisted Proud Boys leader to inform on antifa (ABC News)
Russia suspected of stealing thousands of State Department emails (Politico)
SolarWinds hack got emails of top DHS officials (Associated Press)
Part of Investigation: