News Roundup: The Continuing Fallout of Georgia’s 2021 Voting Law

In the past two years, nearly 100,000 Georgia voter registrations were challenged — the vast majority of those challenges coming from just six right-wing activists.

That’s according to a new report from ProPublica, which highlights how those challenges — including errors that otherwise would be corrected by routine voter-roll maintenance — can have harmful repercussions for those whose registrations are challenged.

  • “There is a clear imbalance of power between the individual bringing the challenges and the county and voters,” Esosa Osa, the deputy executive director of Fair Fight Action and a member of American Oversight’s board, told ProPublica, adding that elections officials and voters “currently have very little recourse once challenged, regardless of the merits of the challenge.”

The deluge of citizen challenges is a result of the passage of Georgia’s 2021 voting law, known as Senate Bill 202, which allowed voter-fraud activists “to take on a greater role” by “explicitly allowing citizens unlimited challenges against anyone in their county.”

  • “Challenges from right-wing activists have proliferated in Georgia despite strict federal laws governing how voters can be removed from rolls,” reported ProPublica. “That’s in part because state and local election officials have struggled to figure out how to reconcile SB 202 with federal protections.”
  • As a reminder: SB 202 was widely condemned for introducing several new voting restrictions, from changes to early and absentee voting to reductions in the number of ballot drop boxes.
  • Also of significant concern was the provision that gave the Republican-controlled State Election Board the power to take over county election boards. At the same time, counties across Georgia saw a number of efforts to restructure local election boards, with largely Democratic counties a particular target.
  • In late 2021, we published an analysis of records we uncovered showing the backlash among county-level election officials against efforts to give partisan actors control over election administration. Read more here.

Despite the widespread backlash to SB 202 — including Major League Baseball moving its All-Star game out of the state that year — Republicans in the U.S. House this week went to Georgia to introduce a new federal elections bill that mirrors the state’s 2021 law, citing it as an example for the rest of the country to follow. 

Its supporters claim the provisions in the bill are necessary to restore voter confidence in secure elections — once again ignoring the fact that such measures restrict access to the ballot while giving in to the false specter of widespread voter fraud. Here are some other headlines related to election denial and voting rights:

  • Arizona escalates probe into alleged efforts to swing election for Trump (Washington Post
  • The head of the GOP is still elevating 2020 election skepticism (Washington Post
  • GOP states quit the program that fights voter fraud. Now they’re scrambling. (Politico)
  • A Jan. 6 “moms” group funded by big lie donors is stoking voter suppression (Truthout)
  • North Dakota election official challenges mail ballot counting law in Trump-aligned group’s lawsuit (Associated Press)
  • Youngkin debuts web portal urging Virginia Republicans to vote early (Washington Post)
  • ​​Republicans plan efforts to tout early voting tactics they once vilified (Washington Post
  • Florida Republicans target voter registration groups with thousands in fines (Guardian)
  • Ruling paves way for criminal charges in scheme to obtain voting tabulators after 2020 election (Michigan Advance

On the Records

Florida Leaders’ Meetings with Anti-LGBTQ Groups

We obtained records showing that the offices of multiple Florida officials — including Gov. Ron DeSantis — have met with conservative groups known to push an extreme far-right agenda, including abortion restrictions, anti-LGBTQ measures, and opposition to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in education.

  • The records reflect several meetings between DeSantis’ office and the Manhattan Institute and the Alliance Defending Freedom. Other records show that representatives of ADF and other far-right groups, like the Florida Family Policy Council, have met with members of the Florida House.
  • The Manhattan Institute creates and circulates model bills in support of conservative causes. A recent story in the Guardian outlined ADF’s role in the nationwide wave of anti-LGBTQ measures; the group also helped draft the Mississippi law that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Comparing Durham Investigation Documents Before and After DOJ Lifted Redactions

We obtained new records from the Durham investigation — the years-long, multimillion-dollar investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia inquiry — revealing details that the Justice Department previously objected to disclosing.  

  • The redactions had been applied under the “ongoing investigation” exemption and were lifted after the investigation closed. The documents shed light on the high level of involvement that Seth DuCharme, a top adviser to former Attorney General William Barr, appeared to have had, once again calling attention to the investigation’s partisan and political roots.
  • For example, the department had withheld most of an email DuCharme sent Durham in April 2019 that revealed his involvement in personnel decisions. “We have the means to quickly onboard retired agents as contractors to assist you,” he wrote.
  • Read more about what we have uncovered about the Durham investigation’s politicized roots here.

Other Stories We’re Following

In the States
  • African American history summer program rescheduled in Florida but qualms remain (Politico
  • Moms for Liberty objections lead Leon County Schools superintendent to pull five books (Tallahassee Democrat)
  • Texas A&M recruited a UT professor to revive its journalism program, then backtracked after “DEI hysteria” (Texas Tribune)
  • State commission continues plan to remove words like ‘equity’ and ‘inclusion’ from teacher lesson plans (Georgia Recorder
  • 12 Republican AGs back Florida in court challenge to Chinese land ownership law (Politico
  • Ohio Secretary of State rejected old absentee forms for Issue 1, then allowed supporters to use them (Ohio Capital Journal)
  • Justice Department launches civil rights investigation into dilapidated and unsanitary conditions at Georgia’s Fulton County Jail (CNN)
  • Two Colorado House Democrats sue their caucus, Republicans for alleged violations of open meetings laws (Colorado Sun)
National News
  • Where Clarence Thomas entered an elite circle and opened a door to the court (New York Times)
  • Senators ask Paul Singer, Leonard Leo for accounting of gifts to SCOTUS justices (ProPublica)
  • First over-the-counter birth control pill gets FDA approval (Associated Press)
Supreme Court Ethics
  • Justices teach when the Supreme Court isn’t in session. It can double as an all-expenses-paid trip (Associated Press)
  • Supreme Court justices and donors mingle at campus visits. These documents show the ethical dilemmas (Associated Press)
  • Lawyers with supreme court business paid Clarence Thomas aide via Venmo (Guardian)
LGBTQ Rights
  • Kansas must stop changing trans people’s sex listing on driver’s licenses, judge says (Associated Press
  • A monumental LGBTQ rights case is barreling toward the Supreme Court (Vox)
  • Tennessee ban on gender-affirming care for minors to go into effect for now (Politico)
  • Texas agency renounces workplace training that mentioned gender identity definitions (Texas Tribune
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • Florida Supreme Court to hear 15-week abortion law case in September (News Service of Florida
  • Iowa Republicans pass bill banning most abortions after about 6 weeks (NPR
  • The next wave of abortion rights ballot measures looks different from the last (Vox)
  • Kobach hires firm that helped overturn Roe v. Wade to represent Kansas in abortion case (Kansas City Star)
  • Idaho AG sued over state’s teen abortion travel ban (CNN)
  • First over-the-counter birth control pill gets FDA approval (Associated Press)
  • House votes to limit abortion access in the military, bowing to the right (New York Times
  • Southern border ‘eerily quiet’ after policy shift on asylum seekers (Washington Post)
  • Immigrant who died in Louisiana ICE detention center had filed at least 29 grievances (Louisiana Illuminator)
Trump Accountability
  • Trump asks court to delay setting trial date in documents case (CNN)
  • First hearing on classified documents will be July 18 after special counsel accuses Trump co-defendant of seeking ‘unnecessary’ delay (CNN)
  • Trump reveals new details about $1 billion in earnings in revised filing (Washington Post)
Jan. 6 Investigations
  • A grand jury being seated Tuesday could decide whether Trump is charged over Georgia’s 2020 election (Associated Press)
  • Special counsel Jack Smith subpoenas Arizona secretary of state office in Jan. 6 probe (Axios
  • Georgia grand jury handling potential indictments in Trump 2020 probe is sworn in (CNN)
  • Justice Department appeals Jan. 6 prison sentences for Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keepers (Politico)
  • Prosecutors ask witnesses whether Trump acknowledged he lost 2020 race (New York Times