Mike Johnson Plans to Introduce Legislation to Require Everyone to Provide Documentary Proof of Citizenship to Be Registered to Vote

What Speaker Johnson announced while standing next to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago is not too far off from what I predicted, though it is even more draconian.

It’s not necessary, would disenfranchise many voters if it passed, and is extremely unlikely to pass.

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“Election Data Is Vital to Voting Rights. So Why Is It So Hard to Track Down?”

Bolts:

And the problem extends far beyond New York. Precinct-level election data underpins a world of election analyses. It’s a foundation for Voting Rights Act lawsuits throughout the country. Proving how badly maps are gerrymandered is impossible without this data, since it’s needed to assess districts’ partisanship. It’s also used to make all sorts of mapsgraphics and tools of neighborhood partisan trends. And combining precinct partisanship data with demographic, geographic and income data is used to address a wide range of political science questions, including showing that voter fraud claims in the 2020 election were unfounded

Yet there is no entity in the United States that records election returns or maintains boundary maps for the country’s 180,000 precincts. Many states don’t even provide this data for the full collection of precincts within their borders. Instead, universities, newsrooms, nonprofits and volunteers collectively spend thousands of hours after every major election gathering it themselves. 

It’s a Herculean task for organizations that are often short on time and resources, and leaves the people who need precinct data at the mercy of individual county or local election offices whose data quality varies drastically. It also burdens underfunded election officials who are inundated with repeated requests for the same data. …

Some states make this process a lot easier than others. For example, Minnesota’s secretary of state’s office posts the entire state’s precinct-level election results together on its website; it also provides digital maps of precinct boundaries, called shapefiles

The variation between states was captured in dramatic visual form in a project published by The New York Times after the 2020 election. A team of journalists, data scientists, and developers set out to produce a map of U.S. precincts, color-coded by how each voted. 

Four states on the map—Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, and Virginia—are completely blank, as are large swaths of Idaho, Missouri, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

It took The Times three months of full-time data and software development work to assemble the data after the election, plus months of preparation ahead of election night, according to Miles Watkins, who helped manage the project. “As of when we published the nationwide map, I feel pretty confident that we were using every single piece of open data or FOIA-able information that we could,” he told Bolts. But even with that effort, one of the best-staffed publications in the nation wasn’t able to obtain the data to complete the map. 

Ultimately, over 10 percent of all votes cast in the election weren’t pictured in the map.

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Donald Trump and Mike Johnson Set for Announcement Today Supporting Some Bill To Prevent Non-Citizens From Voting, a Non-Problem in the U.S. Will It Be Pence-Kobach II, Allowing States to Require Documentary Proof of Citizenship Before Registering to Vote?

USA Today reported yesterday that Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is making a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to join former President Trump to promoted a bill “aimed at preventing non-citizens from voting.” Details of the proposal so far are elusive.

This is of course just fodder to feed the false claims of massive voter fraud that have infected Donald Trump’s statements about elections every time he has lost and sometimes even when he has won. As Aaron Blake reported back in 2017, when Trump won the election but lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by about 3 million votes:

A lingering question when it comes to Donald Trump’s baseless claims of massive voter fraud has been whether it could call into question his 2016 win. After all, if it’s possible that 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast, as Trump alleges, isn’t it possible that such massive fraud could have also helped him? He won by about 80,00 votes in the three states that mattered.

No, says Trump. In fact, zero illegal votes were cast for him, he told ABC News’s David Muir in an interview airing Wednesday night.

“Of those votes cast, none of ’em come to me. None of ’em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of ’em come to me,” Trump said.

He added later: “Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one. Okay, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton.”

In the 2016, there were not 3 million, or 300,000, or 30,000, or 3,000, or 300 cases of noncitizen voting found after extensive voting. The number was maybe around 30 potential cases nationally according to the Brennan Center.

That didn’t stop Trump from creating the Pence-Kobach commission to “investigate” claims of noncitizen voting and to propose recommendations. As I detail in my book, Election Meltdown, the purpose appeared to be to provide enough smoke to pass a federal law allowing states to require documentary proof of citizenship before they can vote.

When Kobach tried to defend such a law in Kansas in federal court, he lost badly (he was even sanctioned). He claimed the amount of voter fraud in Kansas was just the tip of the iceberg, but the Republican appointed judge hearing the case found no such evidence. As I wrote in Election Meltdown:

In an opinion issued a few months after the trial, Chief Judge Robinson found that Kansas’s documentary proof of citizenship law imposed a serious burden on the state’s voters. She credited the testimony of plaintiffs’ expert Michael McDonald that the burden fell most heavily on the young and those unaffiliated with a political party, and she noted that tens of thousands of Kansans had had their voter registration applications put on hold or rejected.20

She further concluded that the burden on these would-be voters was unjustified. There was likely a minuscule amount of noncitizen voting in Kansas, but the few reports of potential noncitizen voting were more likely the result of administrative error or misunderstanding of the law than attempted felonies. “Evidence that the voter rolls include ineligible citizens is weak. At most, 39 [non]citizens have found their way onto the Kansas voter rolls in the last 19 years. And, as [plaintiffs’ expert] Dr. [Eitan] Hersh explained, given the almost 2 million individuals on the Kansas voter rolls, some administrative anomalies are expected. In the case of Kansas, this includes 100 individuals in [the state database] with birth dates in the 1800s, and 400 individuals with birth dates after their date of registration.”

“There is no iceberg,” the judge concluded, “only an icicle, largely created by confusion and administrative error.”

I would not be surprised to see a revival of this proposal.

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“Voter fraud defamation case heard at NC Supreme Court could have implications for 2024 elections”

WRAL:

A timely constitutional question, as the 2024 elections ramp up: Should people who falsely accuse North Carolina voters of committing voter fraud be immune from being sued for defamation, if they go through the state’s formal process for making the accusations?

The North Carolina Supreme Court considered the issue Thursday in a case that focuses on just a few voters — but which could also have significant ramifications for how future allegations of voter fraud are handled in this closely watched swing state.

The lawsuit dates to 2016, when backers of then-Gov. Pat McCrory’s reelection campaign falsely accused dozens of North Carolinians of committing voter fraud. McCrory, a Republican, lost to now-Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, by a razor-thin margin of just a few thousand votes. The fraud allegations came just days after the election and were intended to potentially sway the results. But they were thrown out as baseless by elections officials who had been appointed by McCrory himself, and a recount confirmed Cooper’s victory.

The case heard Thursday doesn’t involve McCrory personally. It’s about whether his lawyers and other supporters behind the voter fraud claims can be sued for defamation by the wrongfully accused voters they named. The voters won at trial, and then won a partial victory in the state Court of Appeals, before the case went up to the Supreme Court.

Politically connected lawyers and operatives packed the high court Thursday as lawyers presented oral arguments.

Based on the questioning from justices, the Supreme Court appears primed to reverse those prior decisions and rule in favor of the GOP operatives. No matter how the justices rule, it could impact the 2024 elections and their aftermath in North Carolina.

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“Neal Katyal Was Their Resistance Hero. Until They Found Out About New Jersey.”

Politico:

In 49 of the 50 states, Neal Katyal is known as a stalwart defender of democracy. And then there’s New Jersey.

In the Garden State, Katyal — the Beltway-famous legal combatant against Trump-era assaults on democratic norms — has thrown himself into a very different legal battle: He’s working to restore a voting rule that enables machine-politics bosses to stack the ballot against anyone they don’t favor. A federal judge last month declared the system unconstitutional for the upcoming primary. Now Katyal’s admirers say they’re enraged by their erstwhile ally’s efforts to snatch away their victory.

“We are all amazed and disappointed and all the related words,” said Yael Niv of the Good Government Coalition of New Jersey. “He’s on the wrong side of history.”…

Democracy advocates have long derided the rule as something out of a banana republic, “an unconstitutional governmental thumb on the scale,” in the words of New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim, the Democratic Senate candidate who filed suit against the “fundamentally unjust and undemocratic” system in February.

When Kim’s lawsuit prevailed on March 29, it represented a political earthquake in the state — and set off impromptu celebrations among activists who’d fought the system for years and couldn’t quite believe they’d won.

But instead of joining the celebrations, Katyal joined the other side, filing an amicus brief last Saturday on behalf of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization, one of the state’s venerable local machines.

Katyal declined comment, saying he was busy preparing for arguments in a gun-control case in San Francisco this week. But his filing does not strike the high notes that might be familiar to those who read his anti-Trump book or watched his successful Supreme Court evisceration of the “independent state legislature” doctrine that could have allowed state legislatures to overturn election results.

Nonetheless, the brief makes a coherent argument for the old status quo: The line system, Katyal writes, “makes voting more efficient by allowing primary voters to easily identify and quickly vote for all candidates belonging to a single political organization or affiliating with a single slogan.” According to the brief, it’s about protecting “low-information” voters: “Only political junkies learn enough about each primary candidate to make an informed choice about who should be their party’s nominee for Surrogate, township council, or County Clerk.”

It’s an argument that draws scoffs from attorneys who fought to kill off the system….

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