“Brian Kemp, Enemy of Democracy”

Carol Anderson has written this NYT oped:

That’s why Mr. Kemp has worked diligently to fortify the Republicans’ crumbling bulwark since he became secretary of state in 2010. He has begun investigations into organizations that registered nearly 200,000 new Asian-American and African-American voters — efforts that resulted in the first majority-black school board in a small town.

His investigations yielded no charges, no indictments, no convictions, despite years of probing, suspects’ losing their jobs and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents knocking on doors. Yet the intimidation had an impact. An attorney from a targeted organization told a reporter: “I’m not going to lie; I was shocked. I was scared.”

While Mr. Kemp insisted that these investigations were about preventing in-person voter fraud (which basically doesn’t exist), he was more candid when talking with fellow Republicans: “Democrats are working hard,” he warned in a recording released by a progressive group “registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines.”

“If they can do that, they can win these elections in November,” Mr. Kemp said. Therefore, even after the multiple investigations yielded no indication of fraud, thousands of people registered during these drives were not on the voter registration rolls, and a court ruling kept it that way.

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UCI Law Ranks #12 (ahead of USC, Michigan, Northwestern, Virginia, Texas, etc.) in New Scholarly Ranking

This is such great news for our awesome faculty! We are just beginning our 10 year anniversary as a law school.

Here is the Sisk study.

A snippet:

Among schools in or close to the top ten for Scholarly Impact, the University of California-Irvine (at #12) shows the greatest incongruity with the 2019 U.S. News ranking at (#21). Since the last ranking, Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the most highly-cited legal scholars in the country (more than 2500 citations in the past five years), left the deanship at California-Irvine to assume the helm at California-Berkeley. Showing that its scholarly power is not dependent on a single person, California-Irvine has maintained its position as a leading scholarly faculty….

Brian Leiter post on the study.

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“Accusations of Voter Fraud Can Hurt Republicans, Too”

Frank Wilkinson for Bloomberg View:

At any point in the past decade, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer could’ve said something. When Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was engineering ways to suppress votes, and repeating false claims about voter fraud, Colyer could’ve piped up.

Colyer could’ve pointed out that Kobach, his opponent in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary, has never produced evidence to back his shameless claims. He could’ve noted that, during Kobach’s almost eight years as secretary of state, his total number of convictions for voter fraud can be counted on the fingers of his two hands — including the wealthy Republicans prosecuted for voting in two states where they owned houses.

At a trial earlier this year, Kobach’s claims of spectacular voter fraud were reduced to this: In a state where 1.8 million voters have cast millions of votes over the past 18 years, the grand total of noncitizen voters amounted to … 11. Likewise, Kobach’s leadership role in President Donald Trump’s voter-fraud commission blew up when the commission was disbanded without producing any evidence to justify Trump’s claims of millions of instances of voter fraud.

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North Carolina: “Republican legislators violated a candidate’s constitutional rights, judge rules”

News and Observer:

A judge threw out a new state law Monday, ruling that it violated the constitutional rights of at least two politicians whose 2018 campaigns the law had targeted.

Chris Anglin, a Republican candidate for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court, had sued the legislature along with Rebecca Edwards, a Democrat who is running to become a district court judge in Wake County. Earlier this summer, the legislature passed a new law that would have prevented Anglin or Edwards from being able to have their party affiliations on the ballot.

They argued that the law unfairly targeted them because their competitors in this November’s elections would still have their own parties listed on the ballot.

Anglin, who is believed to have been the main target of the new law, is one of two Republicans running for the Supreme Court seat against a single Democratic candidate….

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore can appeal the ruling but it wasn’t immediately clear Monday if or when they would.

Update: You can find the 11-page order here (via BAN).

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Kansas: “Johnson County accepts nearly 1,500 new ballots, including from unaffiliated voters”

Wichita Eagle:

Johnson County will accept nearly 1,500 provisional ballots either in full or in part, including dozens cast by unaffiliated voters who were incorrectly told by poll workers to cast provisional ballots.

The ballots could tip the balance in the GOP primary for governor. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer were separated by a mere 110 votes going into Monday.

The Johnson County Board of Canvassers voted unanimously Monday to fully accept 1,176 ballots based on the recommendation of the county’s election commissioner, Ronnie Metsker.

This included 57 ballots from unaffiliated voters who were incorrectly told on Election Day to cast provisional ballots. Kansas law restricts voters from switching parties on Election Day, but unaffiliated voters are allowed to declare a party at the polls….

correctly instructed to vote provisionally instead of declaring a party and casting a normal ballot.

Metsker said this happened in Johnson County.

“We had one (polling) location where that happened,” Metsker said. “These are citizens. We train them. We train them hard. There were a number of problems at that location.”

The unaffiliated voters were part of a larger group of 264 voters in Johnson County who were incorrectly told by poll workers to cast provisional ballots. All of those votes will count, Metsker said.

The county’s decision to count the unaffiliated voters would seem to put the county at odds with a news release from Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker, the deputy whom Kobach has tapped to oversee the counting process in the closest primary race for governor in the state’s history.

Rucker said in an email late Sunday that “there has been considerable public discussion regarding whether unaffiliated voters can participate in Kansas party primary elections.”

He then attached a series of legal instructions including that “if an unaffiliated voter does not complete a party affiliation document, that voter is not entitled to vote at a party primary election.”

This is an issue that could easily end up in court if it makes a difference in the outcome.

 

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“New coalition plans seven-figure campaign aimed at Puerto Rican voters”

CBS News:

Critics of the Trump administration’s response to the hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico last year are launching a seven-figure campaign to mobilize displaced Puerto Rican voters ahead of the midterm elections – and planning big demonstrations in New York and Florida to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

In recognition of the anniversary, a major protest is to take place at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Sept. 22, two days after a memorial service and march on Trump Tower in New York, according to organizers.

The events are part of a new project launched by the Latino Victory Project (LVP), a liberal group that supports Latino Democratic political candidates and works to register and mobilize Latinos to vote, and Power 4 Puerto Rico (P4P), an upstart organization that has spent the last year working to draw more attention to the stunted recovery on the island.

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“Voting Rights Advocates Used to Have an Ally in the Government. That’s Changing.”

Michael Wines for the NYT:

In the national battle over voting rights, the fighting is done in court, state by state, over rules that can seem arcane but have the potential to sway the outcome of elections. The Justice Department’s recent actions point to a decided shift in policy at the federal level: toward an agenda embraced by conservatives who say they want to prevent voter fraud….

Critics see in the Justice Department’s moves the ascendance of a longtime Republican political agenda that will increase barriers to the ballot.

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“Nate McMurray doesn’t like ‘giant super PACs.’ But will they be his unlikely salvation?”

CPI:

Then, on Wednesday, everything changed.

That was the day the feds arrested Collins and charged him with securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI. McMurray’s phone blew up — with new friends, congressmen, aides to previously down-on-McMurray New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Within 24 hours, “tens of thousands of dollars” poured in from the country’s four corners, including $1,000 from Trump nemesis Rosie O’Donnell, McMurray told the Center for Public Integrity. Even the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which McMurray said Saturday had little for him previously, declared New York’s 27th District race “firmly in play for Democrats.”

“It’s been a life saver for us,” McMurray said by phone Saturday. “It’s become more of a national campaign overnight.”

Consider that McMurray’s campaign had only collected less than $134,000 for the entire election cycle through June 30, according to federal records — roughly a dime for every dollar Collins had raised.

More money could be on its way. A lot more — regardless of whether McMurray wants the kind of cash that may be arriving.

 

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Today’s Must Read: Kansas Ballot Counting Issues Echo Florida 2000

KC Star:

Local officials spread across Kansas’ 105 counties will exercise an incredible amount of power this week when they determine whether thousands of ballots should count in the closest primary race for governor in Kansas history.

The roughly 9,000 provisional ballots, awaiting rulings from county officials across the state, will likely decide whether Gov. Jeff Colyer or Secretary of State Kris Kobach emerges as the GOP’s standard-bearer in the fall.

County election offices spent the days after the election separating provisional ballots into categories. Canvassing boards will then vote on whether to accept the ballots in each category.

Caskey said that a voter may be told to cast a provisional ballot for a variety of reasons, including the lack of a government-issued ID, but the most common reason is that voters changed their address and forgot to update their voter registration.

“That’s the No. 1 reason every election,” he said. A change of name could also force a voter to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day, he said.

Colyer’s campaign has identified specific categories of concern, including unaffiliated voters who were told to cast a provisional ballot.

Kansas voters must belong to a party to cast a primary ballot, but Kansas law allows a voter to declare a party at a polling place on Election Day.

Kendall Marr, Colyer’s spokesman, said he was first given a provisional ballot when he tried voting in Shawnee County.

Marr was listed as an unaffiliated voter and was told he could cast a provisional ballot. He then asked for a full ballot and registered as a Republican to vote in the primary.

“We’ve heard of quite a few people who had these issues,” Marr said. “We just want to make sure that all the votes are counted appropriately, that everyone had the chance to vote in the Republican primary that wished to.”

Hundreds of mail-in ballots also may be in legal limbo because of a dispute between Kobach’s office and Colyer’s campaign about whether they require a postmark to prove they were sent by the Election Day deadline.

“Our hope is that he gets a fair shake,” Marr said of Colyer. “I think there’s a few things we can do to ensure that, several of which we’ve included in our letter to the secretary of state.”

Robert Scherer, a 78-year-old unaffiliated voter, said he showed up to his Lawrence polling place to cast a ballot for Colyer.

“Mainly, it was a vote against Kobach,” he said.

Rather than register him as a Republican, the poll worker instructed him to cast a provisional ballot, Scherer said. He was confused by the instructions but went ahead with a poll worker’s guidance because there was a line of people behind him….

On Friday afternoon, two election workers in Wyandotte County were sitting at computers with stacks of provisional ballots to review as Election Commissioner Bruce Newby watched.

An appointed board also was sorting 207 valid mail-in ballots that were postmarked before 7 p.m. on Election Day but not received at the election office until later.

Newby, a Kobach appointee, noted that three mail-in ballots arrived Wednesday but did not have postmarks.

“We can’t count those,” Newby said. “The thing that really ticks us off is that for all intents and purposes, it’s the Postal Service that’s disenfranchised that voter. And shame on them.”

 

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“For Voters Sick of Money in Politics, a New Pitch: No PAC Money Accepted”

NYT:

Campaign finance was once famously dismissed by Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, as being of no greater concern to American voters than “static cling.” But since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 opened the floodgates for unrestricted political spending, polls have shown that voters are growing increasingly bitter about the role of money in politics.

The issue is now emerging in midterm races around the country, with dozens of Democrats rejecting donations from political action committees, or PACs, that are sponsored by corporations or industry groups. A handful of candidates, including Mr. Phillips, are going a step further and refusing to take any PAC money at all, even if it comes from labor unions or fellow Democrats.

Rather than dooming the campaigns, these pledges to reject PAC money have become central selling points for voters. And for some of the candidates, the small-donor donations are adding up.

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“‘I was duped’: Signers claim Blankenship campaign lied on petition drive”

Charleston Gazette-Mail:

Terry Shaffer was told he signed a petition to keep Don Blankenship off the ballot for U.S. Senate. In truth, his signature was used for the opposite, and he’s not the only one.

Of the roughly 3,000 Kanawha County residents who signed on to a petition to enable Blankenship to file to run for Senate with the Constitution Party, 28 of them have said in interviews with the Charleston Gazette-Mail that they were lied to about what they were signing.

“Oh, I know I was duped, there’s no doubt about it,” Shaffer, who voted for the winning candidate in the Republican primary, said. “I guarantee you if there was a way you could check that, there’s a lot of Republicans that signed that petition that did not vote for Don Blankenship that were told [it was] to keep Don Blankenship off the November ballot.”

 

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Secret Spending on Both Sides of Michigan Governor’s Race

New Yorker:

One day this summer, in the midst of this escalation, while he was scrolling through political sites on his phone, a Democratic operative in Lansing named Bob McCann came across a fifteen-second video advertisement attacking Whitmer. McCann spent several years working as Whitmer’s chief of staff when she was the minority leader of the state senate, and he considers her a close friend. When he encountered the ad again, he unmuted it. “Who is Gretchen Whitmer?” a female narrator asked, over a screen split between an image of Whitmer speaking and stacks of cash. “She funds her campaign with big money from big drug and big insurance-company executives. No wonder Gretchen Whitmer opposes single-payer health care.” To McCann, it seemed likely that allies of El-Sayed or Thanedar had paid for the ad, because it so exactly echoed the lines of their campaign.

On his phone, McCann took three screenshots of the ad, making sure to capture the final frame, which said, in small type, “Paid for by Priorities for Michigan.” McCann has been involved in Democratic politics in Michigan for almost twenty years, but he had never heard of the group. He texted a few other Democratic operatives. “No one had any clue,” he told me. He searched for Priorities for Michigan on the Michigan secretary of state’s Web site, which lists all campaign committees and pacs registered in the state, but found nothing. McCann tried Googling “Priorities for Michigan,” but that didn’t work. “Every politician in the state gives speeches about their ‘priorities for Michigan,’ and those were all the hits,” he said. Whitmer was being attacked for shadowy corporate ties by a group that itself left no trace.

McCann, searching for the source of the Priorities for Michigan ad, found another in the screenshots: the group had listed a post-office box in Lansing. He Googled it and got hit after hit for another political group, League of Our Own, which seemed to be promoting female candidates. (There was no mention of Priorities for Michigan on the active version of the Web site, but, on Google’s cached version, McCann found “Paid for by Priorities for Michigan,” along with the same post-office-box number.)

Looking at the group’s Web site, he realized that he knew just about all of its officers and supporters. “It was a Who’s Who of Republican politics in Michigan,” he said, including several state representatives, a conservative political consultant named Tony Daunt with close connections to the DeVos family, and Jase Bolger, the former speaker of the Michigan House, who once refused to allow a female Democratic legislator to speak on the chamber floor because she had used the word “vagina” in a debate about reproductive rights. In McCann’s view, these were the same conservatives who had been undermining liberal female politicians for years. Now, it seemed to him, if they were indeed behind Priorities for Michigan, they were using progressive ideas to divide Democrats, in the primary and perhaps in the general election. “If they had not put the post-office-box number on the ad, no one could have connected Priorities for Michigan to anything at all,” McCann said.

McCann took his discovery to the Detroit News, which reported, on July 5th, that “a mysterious group” running online ads attacking Whitmer from the left “appears to have connections to several Michigan Republicans.” But the story remained at the level of supposition: League of Our Own did not respond to an e-mail, and Daunt and Bolger did not return the paper’s calls. (They also did not return mine.) Public records indicate that when Priorities for Michigan bought time on a Detroit radio station—for another ad claiming that Whitmer “sides with big drug and insurance-company executives” and against “our communities”—it listed only one officer, Eric Doster, the general counsel of the Michigan Republican Party from 1992 to 2017, and perhaps the preëminent conservative election lawyer in the state. Doster, too, did not return my requests for comment.

It appeared that Republicans had picked up on the tension El-Sayed had pinpointed: between the Democratic Party as it has been and as it aspires to be. “If I were Abdul El-Sayed, and I could see that the DeVoses were using my talking points, I would wonder about what I was doing,” McCann told me. But, of course, he didn’t know that the DeVoses were involved, any more than El-Sayed’s campaign knew that Blue Cross Blue Shield was behind Build a Better Michigan. During the past decade, Democrats have fixed on activist billionaires and corporate interests—the Kochs and the DeVoses, Exxon and Goldman Sachs—as their true enemies, heightening anger among their partisan base. But, in the 2016 election and, now, in this year’s primaries, that anger is coming to haunt the Democratic establishment.

On July 23rd, Build a Better Michigan, having filed disclosure forms to the I.R.S., also publicly released its donor information. Its financial might had mostly come from labor unions: the United Autoworkers and the Teamsters each contributed two hundred and fifty thousand dollars; local chapters of the carpenters’ and laborers’ unions each pitched in a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The largest donation, of three hundred thousand dollars, came from a group associated with the Ingham County Democratic Party, which was not required to disclose its donors. This did not rule out the possibility that the health-insurance industry had a major role in funding Build a Better Michigan, but it certainly narrowed the odds. The El-Sayed campaign did not modulate its message. “Blue Cross Blue Shield has written her talking points on health care,” Adam Joseph, an El-Sayed spokesperson, said of Whitmer, on August 3rd. “They bought that with their $144,710 at a closed-door fund-raiser, and however much money they’ve funnelled through her ‘Build a Better Michigan’ dark-money super pac.” It did not much matter. On Tuesday, Whitmer won the primary with more than fifty per cent of the vote; El-Sayed won thirty per cent, and Thanedar eighteen.

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“Appeals court overturns U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s bribery convictions, upholds guilty verdict on other counts”

Philly Inquirer:

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia on Thursday overturned U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s bribery convictions in a decision that offered a small measure of vindication for the former Democratic congressman — but may not dramatically affect the decade-long sentence he received for other corruption-related crimes.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that jurors in Fattah’s case had not been properly instructed on the legal definition of “political graft” – one narrowed by a U.S. Supreme Court opinion issued just days after they convicted the congressman in 2016.

Still, wrote Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith: “There is more than sufficient – and distinct – evidence to support Fattah’s conviction on all of the other counts,” including allegations that he stole federal grant funds, charitable donations, and campaign cash to pay off his personal and political debts.

You can read the 142 pages of the opinion here (via How Appealing).

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“Representative Chris Collins Suspends Bid for Re-election After Insider Trading Charges”

NYT:

Days after federal prosecutors charged him with insider trading, Representative Chris Collins announced on Saturday that he was abandoning his re-election bid amid worries that his legal troubles could make vulnerable his otherwise solidly Republican district in western New York.

How exactly the suspension of Mr. Collins’s campaign would play out was not immediately clear, as the process to get off the ballot can be onerous in New York, and Mr. Collins did not say how he would remove himself….

One Republican official familiar with the discussions said the party would probably try to nominate Mr. Collins for a county clerkship somewhere else in New York, in an effort to meet the legal requirements to remove him from the congressional ballot.

Time to call in the Democracy Canon?

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“Kansas governor accuses Kobach of not counting all votes in governor race”

The Hill:

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) accused Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) on Friday of intentionally pushing a miscount of the number of ballots cast in the gubernatorial primary race.

“Secretary Kobach’s office was instructing counties not to count ballots that are in the mail, and those clearly have to be counted under Kansas law,” Colyer said in a Fox News interview.

The governor also expressed concern over the counting of provisional ballots for voters who are registered independents but are allowed to vote in the primary.

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“The Trump White House’s new hush-money problem”

Aaron Blake for WaPo:

In this case, about the only campaign finance question would be whether this would be considered a legitimate campaign expense, said election-law expert Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine.

“I’m not sure I’ve seen a campaign try to claim hush money as a legitimate expense, but of course the whole point of the Stormy Daniels payments controversy is that they were not made from the campaign account and reported when they were campaign related,” Hasen said.

Larry Noble, a campaign-finance lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, said the fact that Manigault Newman ostensibly would have had a job with the campaign might make it less problematic.

“If, however, the offer of the campaign job was just a cover to pay her for the NDA, it raises a more difficult issue,” Noble said. “There is a difference between using campaign funds to deal with personal matters that may be embarrassing (e.g. the legal defense of a drunk-driving charge), which is not allowed, and matters more directly connected to your campaign or your job as an officeholder.”

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Kobach Hands Kansas Governor Recall Responsibilities to His Deputy, Who Has Donated to His Campaign, and Not to Election Professional

KC Star:

Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker will take over Kobach’s duties and will serve on the State Board of Canvassers, which will certify the final election results. Rucker donated $1,000 to Kobach’s campaign last fall, according to campaign finance records….

Rucker was a top aide to former Kansas attorney general Phill Kline.

Rucker found himself under scrutiny by an attorney disciplinary panel in 2010 that had looked into how Kline’s office conducted itself as it investigated the late Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller and Planned Parenthood in Overland Park.

Kline’s office faced a far-reaching investigation into complaints that he misled judges and a grand jury during the probe into abortion providers.

While Kline would later have his law license suspended for what the Kansas supreme court found to be “clear and convincing evidence” of professional misconduct, Rucker in 2010 received an informal admonition for not correcting misleading information he provided to the state’s highest court.

Rucker’s attorney in that disciplinary case was Caleb Stegall, who would later go on to serve as former Gov. Sam Brownback’s general counsel before becoming a justice on the Kansas supreme court.

Rucker was also the subject of a lawsuit last year from a former employee in the secretary of state’s office.

The former employee alleged in the federal lawsuit that her situation was a case of “reverse religious discrimination,” and described Rucker as telling her grandmother that she had been fired because the staffer was a diversion, mean and didn’t go to church, with Rucker placing a particular emphasis on church as a factor.

The jury rejected the employee’s claim, though the trial provoked further scrutiny of Rucker’s work within the office.

Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, said he had assumed that Kobach would turn over his responsibilities to an election professional within the secretary of state’s office.

“However, it appears that the secretary is not sensitive to the appearance of impropriety and by appointing his longtime right hand Erick Rucker he is not eliminating the appearance of impropriety but only transferring the responsibility to another one of his political cronies,” Carmichael said.

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“Billionaire gives up campaign to split California into three states”

Bob Egelko for the SF Chronicle:

The author of the thwarted initiative to split California into three states said Thursday he’s dropping his proposal, while denouncing the state Supreme Court’s decision to remove it from the November ballot.

In a letter to the court, Timothy Draper, a Bay Area venture capitalist, declined the justices’ invitation to present arguments about why his measure meets constitutional standards and should be placed on a future ballot.

 

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“Group Files Lawsuit to Challenge Electoral College”

Roll Call:

group is suing two red states and two blue states to change the Electoral College system.

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig and David Boies, who served as former Vice President Al Gore’s lawyer in Bush v. Gore, make up the group according to the Boston Globe.

The group is suing two predominantly Democratic states (California and Massachusetts) and two predominantly Republican states (Texas and South Carolina.)

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“Election management in the U.S. is improving: An updated Elections Performance Index from the MIT Election Data & Science Lab evaluates the 2016 election”

Electionline Weekly:

States’ administration of elections overall improved by 6 percentage points between 2012 and 2016, according to the Elections Performance Index (EPI) released today by the MIT Election Data & Science Lab.

As many readers will know, the index, which was developed and managed by The Pew Charitable Trusts before being transferred to MEDSL in 2017, provides a nonpartisan, objective measure of how well each state is faring in managing national elections. When it launched in 2013, it provided the first comprehensive assessment of election administration in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.; it now includes data from every federal U.S. election since 2008. It’s calculated using 17 indicators that cover the broad scope of issues involved in managing elections, providing specific metrics for election officials, voters, and policymakers to compare their state with its own past performance, as well as the performance of other states.

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“Software incompatibilities cited in review of missing L.A. County voter names”

LAT:

Los Angeles County’s election software was unable to process a formatting change in state voter data, contributing to 118,500 names being omitted from eligible-voter rosters on election day in June, according to an executive summary of an independent review released Wednesday.

There was no evidence of a security breach, the summary said.

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Kobach Says He’s Going to Recuse Himself—Let’s See If/How That Happens

KC Star:

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“Tulare County farmer asking court to make Devin Nunes stop calling himself one, too”

Fresno Bee:

Several residents within California’s 22nd Congressional District filed a petition in Sacramento Superior Court on Thursday morning, asking the court to remove “farmer” from Rep. Devin Nunes’ description on California ballots….

“I don’t believe (Nunes) has had any income from farming for at least 10 years,” Buxman said. “He has some interest in a few wineries, but he’s distanced himself from those and says he has no involvement in their day-to-day management.”

Here is the writ petition.

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Kobach’s Office Apparently Made the Error Awarding Him 100 More Votes than He Deserved

Oh my:

The hotline announcement coincided with the discovery of 100 votes for Colyer in Thomas County near the Colorado border.

Thomas County Clerk Shelly Harms confirmed that Colyer received 522 votes on election day rather than the total of 422 that had been reported by the secretary of state’s office.

She shared a scan of the form she submitted to Kobach’s office, which clearly showed 522 votes for the governor, and said the secretary of state’s office was responsible for the discrepancy, not the county.

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“Automatic Voter Registration In Mass. To Begin By 2020, Galvin Says”

WBUR:

Massachusetts on Thursday became the 14th state in the country to adopt an automatic voter registration system, according to Secretary of State William Galvin and advocates who backed the measure.

Galvin announced that Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that would automatically register eligible voters when they interact with the Registry of Motor Vehicles and MassHealth, unless they opt out.

Galvin said he was “excited to begin preparations today” and expected to have the necessary systems in place on Jan. 1, 2020, “just in time for the next Presidential Primaries.”

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Today’s Must Read: “Inside The Trump Voter Fraud Commission’s Weird, Wild Attempt To Prove The Untrue”

Sam Levine for HuffPo:

One morning in June last year, just before 3 a.m., Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach emailed White House officials with an editing suggestion for a draft letter they were preparing on behalf of President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission. In addition to requesting a boatload of voter information, the letter asked state election officials to answer questions about evidence of voter fraud and to offer recommendations for preventing voter disenfranchisement and intimidation.

Kobach, the effective head of the commission, took issue with the order of the questions. The Republican didn’t want the inquiry about voter intimidation to come before the inquiry about voter fraud, because voter fraud was what the commission was really interested in.

“I don’t think voter intimidation should be listed before voter fraud. That is a secondary or tertiary concern of the commission,” Kobach wrote. White House officials appear to have heeded Kobach’s advice and put the question about voter fraud first in the letter it sent out that day.

The email was among thousands of documents publicly released last week by the watchdog group American Oversight and Democratic commission member Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s secretary of state. The controversial panel was abruptly disbanded in January. These emails provide the most in-depth look to date at its work, which was hidden from both the public and the Democrats who served on the commission.

Taken together, the documents show how the White House and Republican commission members sought to bolster the false narrative that voter fraud is a widespread problem in the U.S., despite no evidence that’s true.

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“A Fight Over Voter Rights in California; Liberal Santa Monica finds itself on the same side as a conservative legal activist challenging the state’s voting-rights law”

WSJ:

Santa Monica, Calif., with a “well-being index” to gauge the happiness of its residents and a fleet of city buses powered by natural gas, often lives up to its reputation as a wealthy, liberal enclave on California’s coast

But this month, a trial in a Los Angeles courtroom has put the seaside city on the same side as a conservative legal activist who is challenging the state’s voting-rights law.

The fight revolves around the city’s at-large election system for its seven City Council seats. Instead of winning office by capturing the majority in any particular district, council members are elected citywide.

The city is being sued in state court by Maria Loya, who argues she lost elections for City Council and the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees, which also elects its members citywide, because of the at-large system. Ms. Loya, who is Latina and lives in the city’s Pico neighborhood, which is historically Latino, ran for the council in 2004 and the college board in 2014.

 

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Maryland: “Sens Seek Election Probe”

Baltimore Sun:

Less than three months before early voting begins, Maryland’s U.S. senators have joined the chorus of elected officials warning that the November elections could be threatened by a Russian oligarch’s stake in a firm that manages some of the state’s most critical electoral systems.

Maryland has already endured one major election snag this year. Some 80,000 voters were told just before the June 26 primary to cast provisional ballots because their change-of-address requests were flubbed by a faulty computer program.

Then FBI agents revealed last month that a contractor that manages many of Maryland’s election systems has ties to Vladimir Potanin, an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

State officials launched a barrage of probes.

On Tuesday Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen added to the list of inquiries by asking that a U.S. Treasury Department committee determine whether Potanin’s investment in the state contractor, ByteGrid, poses a national security threat.

 

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North Carolina: “Roy Cooper sued election board. Instead of fighting, the board’s lawyer took his side.”

News and Observer:

Gov. Roy Cooper sued the state elections board and Republican legislative leaders over two constitutional amendments planned for the fall ballot. Rather than fighting Cooper, the state lawyer representing the elections board has jumped in on Cooper’s side.

The state Republican Party is calling out state Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, for supporting the Democratic governor’s position on the lawsuit without getting election board members’ approval.

“It is highly unusual for an attorney to make a decision of this magnitude without a formal request or vote from his client board,” the state GOP said in a statement. “It is illegal for any member of the board to take a public stance on a ballot question.”

In an email, a spokeswoman for Stein said the office is confident it is properly representing the board.

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“Foreign interests have spent over $530 million influencing US policy, public opinion since 2017”

Open Secrets:

Foreign lobbyists and agents acting on behalf of foreign interests have reported hundreds of millions of dollars in payments since January 2017, an analysis of OpenSecrets’ exclusive new Foreign Lobby Watch data reveals.

Today we’re making available, for the first time, a searchable database of foreign interests spending on lobbying and influence in the United States.

Foreign lobbyists and other operatives acting on behalf of foreign interests wield a significant amount of power, impacting economic and diplomatic policies as well as public opinion.

The law that governs most foreign influence disclosure requirements, the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), requires any foreign agent or lobbyist representing a foreign principal to register with the U.S. Department of Justice and file detailed public disclosures.

These reports may include details that are not found in the more familiar lobbying reports submitted to Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, including names of U.S. officials with whom the lobbyist had contact and copies of materials disseminated, such as ads, press releases, or flyers.

While FARA reports are publicly available through the Justice Department, following the money can be difficult, requiring laborious research and records sleuthing. With Foreign Lobby Watch, anyone can quickly learn what foreign interests are spending on lobbying or to influence policy in the United States and how much they are spending.

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“PA James Announces Legislation to Close Loophole Allowing Foreign Contributions to NYC Political Campaigns”

Press release:

Public Advocate Letitia James announced major new legislation designed to prevent foreign entities from circumventing New York City’s strict campaign finance laws through a loophole created by Citizens United. Introduced in the wake of substantial new evidence of a coordinated Kremlin effort to illegally funnel money through the NRA to benefit Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, this legislation will help ensure that New York City elections are free from corrupt foreign influence.

New York City’s Campaign Finance Laws are already a national model, but the intelligence community consensus of ongoing efforts by hostile foreign powers to illegally subvert American elections has highlighted unforeseen dangers.

In order to protect the integrity of our New York City elections, the bill would strengthen the existing prohibition on direct foreign and corporate campaign contributions by extending the ban to American corporations under substantial foreign ownership or control.

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“US judge voids part of North Carolina election law”

AP:

A federal judge invalidated part of North Carolina elections law that allows one voter to challenge another’s residency, a provision that activist groups used to scrub thousands of names from rolls ahead of the 2016 elections.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said in an order signed Wednesday that the residency challenges are pre-empted by the 1993 federal “motor voter” law aimed at expanding voting opportunities.

You can find the court’s order at this link.

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“A Senator Claims That Russian Hackers Are In Florida’s Voter Systems. Local Officials Are Skeptical.”

BuzzFeed:

Florida Senator Bill Nelson claimed Wednesday that Russian hackers “right now” are “in (the) records” of county election offices, prompting confusion from Florida state and county officials who said they are unaware of such an attack.

Speaking to the Tampa Bay Times, Nelson said that the hackers “have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about.”

In an email to Florida’s 67 county supervisors shared with BuzzFeed News, Florida’s secretary of state, Ken Detzner, said he “has received zero information from Senator Nelson or his staff that support his claims.”

“Additionally, the Department has received no information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that corroborates Senator Nelson’s statement and we have no evidence to support these claims. If Senator Nelson has specific information about threats to our elections, he should share it with election officials in Florida,” Detzner said.

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