Monthly Archives: November 2021

Joe Manchin–Our Democratic Deficit Goes Deeper than Uncompetitive Gerrymandered Districts

Manchin’s seat is not safe. And still, his version of moderation stands at odds with the views of his own constituents (not just his base). Why would voters believe their votes matter?

The Hill is reporting a new poll that shows “West Virginia voters overwhelmingly back paid leave proposal.”

“The poll, commissioned by Paid Leave for All, found that 80 percent of West Virginia voters support ensuring paid leave for workers suffering from a serious illness, 75 percent back paid leave for workers caring for a sick family member and 72 percent support paid leave for workers caring for a new child. 

. . . The poll found that paid leave is more popular among West Virginia voters than other proposals included in the reconciliation package, such as universal pre-K, which is backed by 54 percent of those surveyed. The paid leave program and the measure to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices were the only Democratic proposals to earn majority support from voters in the state from every political party.

Senator Manchin, to be sure, has his process-based excuse: The bill should be passed separately and with bipartisan support. And, to be sure, this poll is likely somewhat flawed. But still, why would any voter think her vote mattered in this era of hyper-partisanship?

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“Prosecutors demanded records of Sidney Powell’s fundraising groups as part of criminal probe”

Washington Post

“Federal prosecutors have demanded the financial records of multiple fundraising organizations launched by attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election as part of a criminal investigation, according to a subpoena reviewed by The Washington Post.

The grand jury subpoena, issued in September by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, sought communications and other records related to fundraising and accounting by groups including Defending the Republic, a Texas-based organization claiming 501(c) 4 nonprofit status, and a PAC by the same name, according to the documents and a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the probe.”

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Update Breaking News–Wisconsin Redistricting

J.R. Ross, Editor of, reports on Twitter that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has rule “it will NOT consider partisan balance in drawing new lines for the Legislature, Congress and will make the ‘minimum changes necessary’ to the current map.”

@JudgeBradleyWI for majority: “Claims of political unfairness in the maps present political questions, not legal ones. Such claims have no basis in the constitution or any other law and therefore must be resolved through the political process and not by the judiciary.”

More details are available from the Hill, which clarifies that the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision saddles the state with the previously gerrymandered maps for 10 more years.

“the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority argued that the state’s existing congressional maps had already passed muster, leaving no reason for the court to take more drastic action.

The existing maps were adopted by the legislature, signed by the governor, and survived judicial review by the federal courts,” the ruling reads. “Treading further than necessary to remedy their current legal deficiencies…would intrude upon the constitutional prerogatives of the political branches and unsettle the constitutional allocation of power.”

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“As its revenue dropped, the NRA took millions of dollars from its charities and funded political groups”

Open Secrets

Anna Massoglia reports on NRA’s financial difficulties at Open Secrets.

“The NRA faces a lawsuit from the New York attorney general to dissolve its main 501(c)(4) lobbying arm following the attorney general’s investigation of corruption charges that unearthed “inappropriate spending,” “self-dealing” and other questionable transactions.”

Meanwhile, the NRA’s charitable foundation is the subject of a separate lawsuit in D.C.–accused of illegally diverting charitable funds to the organization’s lobbying arm.

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“Politics is still local. When incumbents face off in redrawn districts, community ties make a big difference.”

Charles Hunt shares on Monkey Cage his new research arguing that “Yes, party matters. But so do incumbents’ deep ties to their districts.” The article resonates with my experience listening to voters at public meetings here in Pennsylvania talk about what matters to them in redistricting.

Pundits and analysts tracking redistricting have focused largely on how redrawn congressional districts favor one party or the other, based on how residents voted in previous presidential elections. But districts are more than just head counts of Democrats and Republicans. They are dynamic places with unique histories, industries, businesses, cultures and traditions that are defined by much more than their partisan biases.

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“With eye to Tuesday and next year, Atlanta Democrats worry about voter turnout”

Washington Post

The Article’s primary focus is on the partisan stakes, but the big picture here is the vicious cycle of low voter turnout, policy responsiveness, apathy, and machine politics.

Across Atlanta, . . . [Just a] year after residents voted in historic numbers to help “turn Georgia blue,” fewer than 3 out 10 turned out for the mayor’s race, despite the widespread desire for a leader who can help the city rebound from a year of setbacks.

Why? A combination of apathy and a failure to mobilize voters around local issues.

Kendra Cotton, chief operating officer for the New Georgia Project, founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, said that her group is still in the process of “educating the electorate that we registered.”

“Folks, particularly when you think about the progressive side of the aisle, have ceded local races, county races, state races and have put an emphasis on national races,” she said. 

And the results are predictable:

Younger voters, non-homeowners and newly registered voters in particular . . . didn’t participate, even though the campaign included extensive debate over the future of policing and how to deliver social services in the most populated city in the Deep South.

“Despite the social justice movement that just happened in 2020, it should tell you something that people felt a greater urge of necessity to come out and protest for social change than they did to participate in a local municipal election,” [Atlanta City Council member Antonio] Brown said.

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“Trump allies work to place supporters in key election posts across the country, spurring fears about future vote challenges”

Washington Post takes a deep dive into the Trump team’s efforts to replace election administrators in swing states and its particular focus on Michigan.

“This is a great big flashing red warning sign,” said Jeff Timmer, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and a Trump critic. “The officials who fulfilled their legal duty after the last election are now being replaced by people who are pledging to throw a wrench in the gears of the next election. It tells you that they are planning nothing but chaos and that they have a strategy to disrupt the certification of the next election.”

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Georgia’s new voting law drives rejections of absentee ballots way up

Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s Republican legislature tightened absentee ballot access, including by imposing an earlier deadline for requests for absentee ballots, after a record 1.3 million Georgians voted remotely in last year’s presidential election.

New data show “Missed deadline was No. 1 cause of absentee ballot denials.”

“In all, election officials rejected 4% of absentee ballot requests for this year’s municipal elections on Nov. 2, according to public voting records analyzed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There were 1,362 rejected absentee ballot applications out of 35,312 submitted.

That’s an increase from less than 1% of absentee ballot applications rejected in last year’s general election.”

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“2021 CPA-Zicklin Index Finds Companies Tightening Oversight of Political Spending”

Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, The Wharton School.

The report finds that U.S. companies are adapting to hyper-polarization and the threats to democracy by expanding board oversight of potentially controversial political spending. The report champions voluntary disclosure practices, while acknowledging the prospect that Congress may soon eliminate the rider that has barred the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from considering a rule mandating disclosure of political spending
by public companies.

“There is a documented history of significant progress toward disclosure and accountability that, over the course of a decade, could not be accomplished with the formalities of laws and regulation.”

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ABA Civil Rights & Social Justice Dec. 6 Virtual Event: “Sixth Annual State of Voting Rights”

I’m pleased to participate in this event (free registration required):

With our democracy under attack, please join us for the Sixth Annual State of Voting Rights program. Our esteemed panel will address the impact of the “Big Lie” and election subversion in light of the January 6th insurrection and discuss the threats for the 2022 midterm and 2024 general elections. Additionally, we will analyze the consequences of new state voting laws passed after the 2020 general election, and efforts in Congress to pass legislation blunting the impact of such laws.

– Jacqueline De León – Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund
– Addisu Demissie – Executive Director, More Than A Vote
– Richard L. Hasen – Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine School of Law; Co-Director, Fair Elections and Free Speech Center, University of California, Irvine School of Law
– Jason A. Abel (Moderator) – Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Co-Chair, Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

CART services will be available.



Dec 3, 2021 03:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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As Federal Options Close, Remember States

With a Supreme Court that is borderline hostile to voting rights and Congress in perpetual gridlock, it is no wonder voters and their advocates are despairing. Still, fade out the polarization noise, and the fact of the matter is that 25 states have enacted legislation to expand voter access and voting rights in 2021, including Republican-run, North Dakota. Virginia even adopted its own state-level Voting Rights Act, creating a review process to prevent local jurisdictions from implementing discriminatory voting practices.

In several states, including New York, Nevada, Kentucky, Louisiana, Indiana, and Oklahoma, compromise legislation limiting the ease of voting in some respects and relaxing it in others was adopted. Negotiations between Pennsylvania’s Republican legislature and its Democratic Governor over access to the ballot opened last week when the legislature announced proposed legislation. The Brennan Center’s comprehensive accounting of states that have restricted voting rights in 2021 is available here.

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Book Review: “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show”

The Washington Post reviews ABC newsman, Jonathan Karl’s Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.

“Karl’s sobering, solid, account of Trump’s last year in office sheds new light on how the man who lost the presidency nearly succeeded in overthrowing the 2020 election. Anyone who thinks that “it can’t happen here,” ought to read this book.”

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