Monthly Archives: October 2018

“With $30 Million, Obscure Democratic Group Floods the Zone in House Races”

NYT:

A structure unknown even to some of those involved, Floridians for a Fair Shake and 13 other groups around the country are funded and coordinated out of a single office in Washington, with the goal of battering Republicans for their health care and economic policies during the midterm elections.

At the center of the effort is an opaquely named Democratic organization, the Hub Project, which is on track to spend nearly $30 million since 2017 pressuring members of Congress in their districts. The great bulk of its funding has come from so-called dark money — funds from donors who are not legally required to reveal their names.

With that money, the Hub Project — in an initiative run by a former Obama administration official and public relations specialist, Leslie Dach, and Arkadi Gerney, a former political strategist for the liberal Center for American Progress — set up an array of affiliate groups around the country, many with vaguely sympathetic names like Keep Iowa Healthy, New Jersey for a Better Future and North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. The Hub Project then used them to mobilize volunteers and run advertising on policy issues against Republican members of Congress many months before the election.

More than a dozen of the targeted lawmakers remain among the most endangered incumbents this year, including Representatives Rod Blum of Iowa, Bruce Poliquin of Maine, Steve Knight of California and George Holding of North Carolina.

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Georgia: “Judge Denies Kemp’s Effort to Postpone Absentee Voter TRO”

NLJ: 

A federal judge in Atlanta turned Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s own words against him in denying a request to postpone a court order intended to reduce the number of rejected absentee ballots across the state.

Judge Leigh Martin May of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said that staying an injunction pending an appeal is not a right—echoing Kemp’s argument in seeking the delay that absentee voting is “a privilege and a convenience,” not a right.

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“Court orders Ohio boards of election to count provisional ballots in midterms for certain voters purged from rolls”

Cleveland.com:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that boards of election in Ohio must count provisional election ballots cast by certain people previously purged from voter rolls for the 2018 midterm elections.

A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that votes cast by people purged by the state between 2011 and 2015 must be counted if they still live in the same county of their last registration and if they are not disqualified from voting because of a felony conviction, mental incapacity or death.

The ruling comes as part of a larger challenge to Ohio’s voter purge process.

You can find the majority and partially dissenting opinion at this link. I expect Ohio will try pretty quickly to get this ruling reversed.

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“New Issue One report highlights how Washington power players use leadership PAC contributions to buy access and influence in the 115th Congress”

Release via email:

More than 500 leadership PACs operated by sitting members of Congress raised over $150 million so far this election cycle. Of this sum, more than 60 percent came from political action committees (PACs) connected to companies, trade associations, labor unions and other groups that frequently have business before these lawmakers.

These findings and more are at the heart of a new Issue One report — entitled “Leadership PACs, Inc.: How Washington power players use leadership PACs to buy access and influence” — in which Issue One analyzed data from the Center for Responsive Politics about contributions to leadership PACs between January 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. …

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“Native American Rights Fund, Robins Kaplan, and Campaign Legal Center File Lawsuit Challenging North Dakota Voter ID Law and Call for Relief for Many Eligible North Dakota Voters At Risk of Disenfranchisement Before Election Day”

Release:

Today, Tim Purdon with Robins Kaplan, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe and six individual plaintiffs to ensure that eligible Native American voters residing on reservations in North Dakota will be able to cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections and in all future elections.

Under current law, North Dakotans can’t vote unless they have identification that shows their name, birth date, and residential address. Recent investigations demonstrate that the law threatens to disenfranchise not only those who do not have street addresses or access to the necessary ID but also those whose addresses the state deems “invalid.” The state’s own addressing system appears to be incomplete, contradictory, and prone to error on reservations.

North Dakota tribal communities have been mobilizing to provide the necessary IDs to those living on reservations, with no help from the state of North Dakota. Despite their efforts, North Dakota’s voter ID law could prevent many eligible Native Americans from casting a ballot in the upcoming election on November 6. The lawsuit asks the court to provide targeted relief for affected voters in time for Tuesday’s election.

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Smells Like Jim Crow: Native American Ballot in North Dakota Rejected for Wrong Ink Color

Jim Crow may be mostly a thing of the past, but not for Native Americans.

NYT:

Voters’ experiences have varied greatly based on which county they live in. In Rolette County, where the Turtle Mountain Reservation is, they have been able to get addresses from the county and IDs from the tribe without much red tape. But at Standing Rock, in Sioux County, the 911 coordinator is the sheriff, Frank Landeis. That’s a deterrent to people who are afraid to interact with law enforcement, much less tell the sheriff where they live, and Sheriff Landeis is not easy to reach.

When Ms. Finn called him on Oct. 12, three days after the Supreme Court ruling, he was out. On Oct. 15, he said he was transporting prisoners and could not assign addresses that day. He was also unavailable when The New York Times called on Friday.

And in an episode recounted independently by Ms. Finn, Mr. Semans and Ms. Young, a tribal elder, Terry Yellow Fat, got through to Sheriff Landeis only to be assigned the address of a bar near his house. Mr. Semans worried that, in addition to playing into stereotypes about Native Americans and alcohol, this could expose Mr. Yellow Fat to fraud charges if he voted under an address he knew was incorrect.

Then there are more subtle problems. For instance, while Sioux County does not offer early voting, it does — like all North Dakota counties — allow early, no-excuse-needed absentee voting, which is functionally almost identical. But Mr. Semans said that when one woman went to the county auditor’s office and asked to vote early, the auditor, Barbara Hettich, simply told her there was no early voting and didn’t mention the absentee option. (Ms. Hettich did not respond to a request for comment.)

Later, when Ms. Young filled out an absentee ballot, Ms. Hettich told her she had to use blue ink or the ballot would not be counted. But literature on the secretary of state’s website says ballots must be filled out in black ink. Mr. Semans ping-ponged back and forth between Standing Rock and Bismarck, trying to get a guarantee that ballots would not be thrown out because of ink color. On Friday, Lee Ann Oliver in the secretary of state’s office told The Times that both blue and black were acceptable.

..

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“How a right-wing troll and a Russian Twitter account created 2016’s biggest voter fraud story”

NBC News:

When Naim Tyler tweeted a video on Nov. 8, 2016, that showed an alleged voting machine malfunction in favor of Hillary Clinton, he expected some attention. But he didn’t realize what was about to happen.

The video he posted showed him repeatedly pressing the button for Donald Trump, while the machine’s indicator light stayed on for Clinton. It turned out that the machine was working properly, and that Tyler wasn’t following the instructions for changing his vote. But nonetheless, the video aligned with right-wing conspiracy theories and went viral, aided by Russia’s then-unknown disinformation campaign.

“BREAKING: Machine Refuses to Allow Vote For Trump in Pennsylvania!! RT the hell out of it! #VoterFraud #voted #ElectionDay” tweeted @Ten_GOP, a Kremlin-backed Twitter account masquerading as Tennessee’s Republican party. It was retweeted more than 29,000 times and picked up by dozens of media outlets….
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“We posed as 100 Senators to run ads on Facebook. Facebook approved all of them.”

VICE:

One of Facebook’s major efforts to add transparency to political advertisements is to require those paying for the ads to make a “Paid for by” disclosure, which appears at the top of the ad and supposedly tells users who is paying for political ads that show up in their news feeds.

But on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, a VICE News investigation found the “Paid for by” feature is easily manipulated, and appears to allow anyone to lie about who is paying for a political ad, or to pose as someone else paying for the ad.

To test it, VICE News applied to buy fake ads on behalf of all 100 sitting U.S. senators, including ads “Paid for by” by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Facebook’s approvals were bipartisan: All 100 sailed through the system, indicating that just about anyone can buy an ad identified as “Paid for by” by a major U.S. politician.

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“Backlash over North Dakota voter ID law could rally Native Americans”

CPI:

Leaders of the state’s tribes are pouring resources into making sure residents obtain addresses in some way and offering free updated tribal identification that would meet the requirements, available up through Election Day. Nonprofits are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and promising the cash will go towards helping Native American voters in the state.

Tribal leaders say the requirements are an attempt to disenfranchise Native Americans, the state’s largest minority group.

“We believe the requirement of a physical, residential property with a street address was intended to disenfranchise Native American voters,” four of the tribes said in a joint press release issued Oct. 17. “We will not be silenced by the blatant efforts to rob our people of our voice.”

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, a Republican, said the voter identification requirements aren’t meant to disenfranchise anyone, only to ensure the integrity of elections. He argues that most states require voters to have a residential address at some point.

“I don’t know why North Dakota is being singled out in being somewhat unusual,” he said.

Last weekend, Mark Ruffalo, the Dave Matthews Band and Billy Ray Cyrusjoined Native American performers for a star-studded series of events on North Dakota reservations meant to promote voting.

But is it enough to prompt Native Americans here to stand and vote?

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