The sheer number of voting-restriction bills currently floating in state legislatures makes it hard to keep track of where each proposal stands. But they all point to the fact that conservative leaders and fundraisers have increasingly adopted such restrictions as a primary policy position.
“In Restricting Early Voting, the Right Sees a New ‘Center of Gravity,’” read one New York Times headline late last week. “‘All-hands moment’: GOP rallies behind voting limits,” said the Associated Press the same day. On Wednesday, the Times also reported on the efforts of Republican leaders and allies to draft legislative proposals that can be exported to multiple states. “Out of power in both Congress and the White House,” wrote reporters Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein, “the party views its path to regaining a foothold in Washington not solely through animated opposition to [President Joe] Biden’s agenda, but rather through an intense focus on re-engineering the voting system in states where it holds control.”
Rather than attempting to persuade voters, conservative leaders are seeking ways to prevent many of those voters from casting ballots in the first place, continuing to justify those measures by repeating the lie that widespread voter fraud stole the 2020 presidential election. While Georgia — where on Thursday the legislature passed a bill imposing multiple new voting rules — and Arizona have been held up as the poster children of this rash of new restrictions, bills that seek to reduce early voting time, restrict absentee voting, or enact more hurdles to accessing the ballot look alarmingly familiar across multiple states. The Brennan Center has a comprehensive guide to these proposals here.
In Texas, an ACLU analysis of voter-fraud cases prosecuted by Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office since 2015 found that 72 percent of individuals prosecuted were people of color. This week, Paxton — who spearheaded a lawsuit that sought to overturn multiple states’ election results — said he was refusing to release messages about his attendance at the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
We’ve been investigating state and local officials’ promotion of and participation in that rally, and this week obtained the calendars of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich in response to a public records request. Notably, the entries for Jan. 6 were missing. Brnovich had dismissed false claims of voter fraud in November, saying, “There is no evidence … that would lead anyone to believe that the election results will change,” but has recently been in the national news for his defense of two Arizona voting-restriction laws in a Supreme Court case that has the potential to further gut the Voting Rights Act.
Here are some other voting- and election-related stories from across the country:
Trump Administration Accountability
This week, Politico reported that former acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf was returning to the consulting world, a common move of former government officials seeking to leverage their high-level experience. In Wolf’s case, that experience includes his time as former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s chief of staff while the department was systematically separating children from their families. And while he served as the (illegally appointed) secretary, he oversaw an agency that was increasingly being weaponized for the political aims of former President Donald Trump.
‘Not Handwriting Experts’
We uncovered records, reported on by Votebeat, that include a November 2019 PowerPoint in which Texas wrote that members of its Signature Verification Committee — who help decide if signatures on absentee ballot envelopes match another signature on file — “are not handwriting experts.” A lot of states don’t offer training for this responsibility, but those states usually have a “cure” process to let voters verify their ballots. Not so in Texas.
One Year of the Pandemic
It’s now been more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life. Since then, it has claimed more than half a million lives in the United States alone and exacerbated deep-rooted inequities in our society. We’ve compiled summaries of various watchdog investigations, government reports, and news stories from the past year, looking at the Trump administration’s stumbling response to the crisis as well as the impact on vulnerable populations, including workers in meat-packing plants and people in detention centers.
How AG Garland Can Strengthen FOIA Implementation
Testifying at his confirmation hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that reading the Freedom of Information Act “generously” was a key part of restoring integrity to the Justice Department. At Just Security, American Oversight’s Daniel McGrath explains why improving transparency should be an early priority — and how the attorney general could do so by issuing a FOIA policy memo seeking to prevent unreasonable withholdings and discourage politicization.
In the States
State senator wants to shield people from gun-control laws by making them all militia members (Washington Post)
DOJ refers former Capitol riot prosecutor for internal investigation after ‘60 Minutes’ interview (CNN)
Did CNN air a staged migrant crossing of the Rio Grande? (American Prospect)
Teens at migrant site warned not to drink water (E&E News)
Trump plans to launch his own social network in two to three months (Washington Post)
Democrats say agency run by Trump holdover is delaying stimulus checks (HuffPost)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says only 0.1 percent of Trump administration’s Covid farm relief went to Black farmers (Washington Post)
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans visit to Iowa to address conservatives (Kansas City Star)
Videos show ally of Marjorie Taylor Greene among mob inside Capitol during January 6 riot (CNN)
USPS chief DeJoy said to cut post office hours, lengthen delivery times in 10-year plan (Washington Post)
States sue Biden in bid to revive Keystone XL pipeline (Associated Press)
Trump officials hindered at least nine key oversight probes, watchdogs said. Some may finally be released in coming months. (Washington Post)
Part of Investigation: