All posts by Tabatha Abu El-Haj

“One Colorado Race Will Be About Voters’ Faith in Elections. It’s Not Looking Good.”

Jennifer Oldham (in Politico) writes this long profile of the struggles facing Colorado’s State Secretary of State.

“Election officials overall, 80 percent of whom are women, reported election misinformation makes their jobs more dangerous, according to a Brennan Center survey of nearly 600 workers.

. . . .

Now, Griswold and other secretaries of state find themselves in a quandary; if they push back on these attacks — on themselves and the voting process in their states — with legislation, their responses are often seen as partisan, too.

Griswold’s office backed a slate of measures, including the law enforcement protection bill. For now, she relies on private guards paid for by her department’s cash fund. Her agenda also included bills that fortify security for poll workers, such as a “Vote Without Fear Act.” The measure, signed recently by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, bans the carry of a concealed weapon within 100 feet of a drop box or voting center.”

For more on Jocelyn Benson’s (Michigan) experience there is this segment from NBC, which opens “President Donald Trump suggested in a White House meeting that she should be arrested for treason and executed.” Here is a profile of the Republican challenging her.

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“Inside the push that landed a Trump legal adviser on a federal election advisory board”

CNN reports on how individuals who promote baseless voter fraud claims have been promoted for seats on an Advisory Board to the Election Assistance Commission.

“Emails obtained by CNN reveal how the push extended to a federal election advisory board and resulted in the 2021 appointment of one of Trump’s legal advisers who helped his failed efforts to pressure Georgia officials into overturning the state’s election results.The emails, obtained by CNN through a Freedom of Information Act request, show conservatives were working even before the 2020 election to gain a seat for an ally on the advisory board of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent government agency that provides voluntary election guidelines for states.

The story of how Cleta Mitchell — the legal adviser who took part in Trump’s phone call where he asked Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes for him to win — was appointed to that board underscores how a core faction of Republicans has focused on pushing unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud even before Trump convinced much of the Republican Party to buy into his election lies that the 2020 election had been stolen.”

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“Inside the Republican push to stop Trump’s ‘vendetta tour’ in Georgia”

This Washington Post article is much bigger than the headline. It is really about the Republican Governors Associations’ mission to challenge Trump’s hold over the party, and Governors Associations have long been a formidable force in American politics.

Although there are many reasons that Madison’s prediction that ambition would counter ambition as officials sought to protect their office repeatedly falls short, this article did remind me that, in the last few years, the most effective pockets of resistance (especially those within the party) have had different institutional interests–federal judges, civil servants, and, once again, state Governors.

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“How Trump’s 2020 Election Lies Have Gripped State Legislatures”

N.Y. TImes has a new analysis of Trump’s hold over elected officials in the battle-ground states. Support for 2020 election lies is quite strong (44% overall), still the Times notes that it is not unchecked (yet).

“The Times’s analysis also shows that these efforts have encountered significant resistance from key Republican figures, as well as Democrats.” In most states, the lawmakers who challenge the 2020 results do not yet have the votes. So while, they have advanced legislation, including to overturn popular election results, they have been unable to enact them. “And it is only a minority of Republican lawmakers who promote the legally dubious view that they—and not the votes of the people—can select the electors who formally cast a ballot for the president in the Electoral College.”

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“A GOP power grab shatters 30 years of political progress for Black voters in Galveston County “

Texas Tribune reports that “Republicans dismantled the only Galveston County commissioners precinct in which voters of color held political clout.”

“Carver Park in Texas City, created during segregation, is considered the first African American county park in the state. It sits on land donated by descendants of freedmen who survived slavery and pioneered one of Texas’ oldest Black settlements, the footprint of which sits just a few blocks away.

Until last year, the park sat at the heart of Galveston County’s Precinct 3 — the most diverse of the four precincts that choose the commissioners court, which governs the county along with the county judge. Precinct 3 was the lone seat in which Black and Hispanic voters, who make up about 38% of the county’s population, made up the majority of the electorate.

. . . .

But the white Republican majority on the Galveston County’s commissioners court decided last November to dismantle Precinct 3. Capitalizing on its first opportunity to redraw commissioner precincts without federal oversight, the court splintered Black and Hispanic communities into majority-white districts.

Under the final map, which will be used for this year’s election and possibly for a decade, white voters make up at least 62% of the electorate in each precinct, though the county’s total population is only about 55% white. Because white voters in Galveston — like Texas generally — tend to support different candidates than Black and Hispanic voters, the map will effectively quash the electoral power of voters of color.”

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“House Democrats scramble after redistricting lessens competitive edge”

Washington Post

Court rulings in Florida and New York have Democrats working harder to keep their seats. The article offers a round up of the likely political effect of the new maps. Two tidbits stand out:

First, “Redistricting . . . has eliminated 18 competitive seats according to a Washington Post analysis, making it less likely that either party can have more of an edge in future races.”

Second, Jonathan Cervas, the special master who drew New York’s maps, seems to have de-prioritized incumbency protection. Recognizing there are arguments on both sides, I do want to say that may make life worse for the party, but it could be good for the public’s faith in democracy.

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2022 Redistricting Likely to Undercut Strides Made by Women in Recent Elections

The AP reports on new analysis from the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University which looks at the likely negative impact of new congressional maps on female incumbents. It appears that being the last to the table and hence the most junior incumbent is what is driving the dynamic.

“[I]n states with new district boundaries, the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University found more than a dozen women so far who are running in significantly tougher territory. That’s more than double the number who are in districts that will be significantly easier to win after redistricting, the analysis found as of this month.”

“Ultimately, the new maps will be a factor in whether women maintain or grow their numbers in the next Congress to more accurately reflect the makeup of the country, a goal members of both parties have concentrated on. Currently, female representatives make up about 28% of the 435 House members, with Democratic women holding roughly three times the number of seats as GOP women.”

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Third Circuit Rules Undated mail ballots should be counted. Error was immaterial.

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled to today, in Migliori et al v. Lehigh County Board of Elections–a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union–that 257 mail-in ballots that had been excluded from the 2021 general election because voters had not handwritten a date on the outer return envelope had to be counted. The full impact of the decision is unclear because the opinion is yet to be issued, but commentators expect it to have immediate impact. Most importantly, the decision stands at odds with state court decisions on the same issue.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“State law requires voters to sign and date the outside mailing envelope when they return their mail ballots, and state courts have held that the requirement means undated ballots must be rejected. But throwing out those votes violates the federal Civil Rights Act, the ACLU argued, because the date isn’t actually used in determining the legitimacy of a vote.

. . .

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed Friday, declaring the date requirement in state law is immaterial under the Civil Rights Act — meaning it can’t be used as a reason to reject ballots.”

Marian Schneider, senior voting rights policy counsel for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, says, “The potential implications of this ruling are significant, and we look forward to reviewing the court’s full opinion. One percent of Lehigh County’s mail and absentee voters in the 2021 general election submitted their ballots on time but forgot to handwrite the date on their return envelopes. In a statewide, high-turnout election, disqualifying those ballots could disenfranchise tens of thousands of otherwise eligible voters.”

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“Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice, pressed Ariz. lawmakers to help reverse Trump’s loss, emails show”

A Washington Post exclusive reports on new emails showing Ginni Thomas’ efforts to secure a second term for Trump. This of course is part of a larger story and the questions her activism raises about Justice Thomas and the Court.

“Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers after the 2020 election to set aside Joe Biden’s popular-vote victory and choose “a clean slate of Electors,” according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.

The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud. Though she did not mention either candidate by name, the context was clear.”

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“Eastman provides new details of Trump’s direct role in legal effort to overturn election”

From Politico: Attorney John Eastman once again seeks to shield emails and other communication with former President Trump and allies from the select committee. The new filing reveals routine communication “with Trump either directly or via ‘six conduits’ during the chaotic weeks that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”

The filing also describes the direct role of Trump himself in developing strategy, detailing “two hand-written notes from former President Trump about information that he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation.” Those notes are among the documents Eastman is seeking to shield via attorney-client privilege. Eastman said he would also speak directly with Trump by phone throughout his legal challenges to the election.

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Jan. 6 Roundup

There have been a number of developments in the ongoing and separate investigations of the select committee and the Department of Justice this week. On the House side, new evidence indicates Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), a member of the House Administration Committee, gave a tour of the Capitol complex to MAGA supporters. Axios is also reporting Bill Barr is actively negotiating with the committee about testifying. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has requested transcripts of interviews from the January 6 committee, which has interviewed a 1,000 individuals so far including associates of former President Trump, and “Far-right UCLA student who sat in VP’s chair on Jan. 6 pleads guilty.”

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Kentucky Law Journal Inviting Proposals: Drawing the Lines: Redistricting After the 2020 Census

The Kentucky Law Journal is pleased to invite proposals for its annual symposium, which will be held on October 14, 2022. The KLJ symposium is entitled Drawing the Lines: Redistricting After the 2020 Census and will focus on the legal issues and policy implications of the 2020 Census and redistricting cycle. From policy arguments regarding who should draw the lines to legal disputes on new maps all across the country, a fundamental question remains: does the redistricting process give us the democracy we deserve?

The KLJ will host this symposium in person in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky, on October 14, 2022, with a pre-symposium dinner held on the evening of October 13. In addition to presentations at the symposium event, presenters will publish pieces in Volume 111 of the Kentucky Law Journal. The editors are particularly interested in publications serving as one of two feature articles in the range of 15,000–20,000-words. In order to apply for the symposium, please submit an abstract of no more than 1,000 words. In addition, please submit a current CV. Submissions are due by June 3, 2021, at editors@kentuckylawjournal.org. Please send any questions to KLJ Special Features Editor, Holly Couch, at holly.couch@uky.edu, KLJ Editor-in-Chief, Jackson Sanders, at jackson.sanders1@uky.edu, or KLJ’s faculty advisor, Joshua Douglas, at joshuadouglas@uky.edu.

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