Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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The special counsel on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking and disseminating information from Democratic targets during the 2016 election. Here and there amid the 29-page document are names and companies that are referred to in shorthand. We do our best to decode them for you here, in the order in which they appear.

“Organization 1”: WikiLeaks

This one is pretty straightforward. The indictment describes “Organization 1” as a group that maintains a website that has “previously posted documents stolen from U.S. persons, entities, and the U.S. government.”

“DCCC Employee 1”: Not yet known

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee whose email account was first successfully hacked by Russia on April 12, 2016.

“Company 1”: Crowdstrike

The indictment notes the Democratic National Committee and DCCC hired “Company 1” to investigate the hacking of their servers by suspected Russian operatives. The DNC and DCCC spoke openly during the 2016 campaign about hiring Crowdstrike, a U.S. cybersecurity company, to carry out this work.

“Candidate for the U.S. Congress” who asked for and received stolen documents about his/her opponent: Not yet known

“Then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news”: Florida GOP operative Aaron Nevins

Nevins, a former lobbyist who maintained the blog, told the Wall Street Journal about his successful attempts to solicit information from “Guccifer 2.0” in August 2016. Nevins said he shared the documents about Democrats’ get-out-the-vote strategy on the site pseudonymously.

“A reporter” who received and wrote about stolen documents on the Black Lives Matter movement: Lee Stranahan

Stranahan, then at Breitbart and now at Sputnik, has openly discussed his communications with “Guccifer 2.0.” National security blogger Marcy Wheeler has shared what she said are Twitter DMs between Stranahan and Guccifer discussing the documents and mocking the notion that Russia could be behind the hacks.

“A person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump”: Roger Stone

Stone, too, has admitted to interacting with “Guccifer” about the hacked documents. He posted screenshots of their DM exchange on his personal blog last year.

“U.S. reporter” who received stolen emails from “Hillary Clinton’s staff” on June 27, 2016: The Smoking Gun

The news site tweeted on Friday that they were the “reporter” in the indictment who received “the password access to a nonpublic, password-protected website” that contained emails stolen from one of Clinton’s staffers, referred to as “Victim 1.”

“Victim 1”: Sarah Hamilton, a Clinton press volunteer based in Chicago

The Smoking Gun, which first reported on Hamilton’s email breach back in June 2016, affirmed today that she was the individual whose emails they first received.

“SBOE 1”: Not yet known

The indictment claims an unnamed state board of elections was compromised by the Russian intelligence officers in July 2016. Information for 500,000 voters was stolen.

“Vendor 1”: VR Systems

Mueller’s indictment says the hackers broke into the computer system of a U.S. vendor that supplied software used to verify voter registration information. Though the Florida-based e-voting vendor denied any breach, The Intercept reported that the facts laid out in the indictment indicate that it did in fact fall victim to the Russians’ 2016 spear-fishing campaign.

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Trump pal Roger Stone on Friday brushed off the interactions he had with Russian intelligence officers posing as a hacker during the 2016 election, which were detailed in a newly filed indictment brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller’s indictment, which lays out charges against 12 Russian operatives who hacked Democratic targets, does not mention Stone by name. But it quotes conversations he has previously admitted to having with “Guccifer 2.0.” – a fake identity created by Russian intelligence.

“As I testified before the House intelligence committee under oath, my 24-word exchange with someone on Twitter claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 is benign based on its content, context, and timing,” Stone said in a statement to the Daily Beast. “This exchange is entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails, as well as taking place many weeks after the events described in today’s indictment.”

The indictment notes that “Guccifer 2.0” interacted with an individual “who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” in August 2016, offering assistance.

Stone posted his private Twitter exchange with Guccifer on his personal website last March, after their communications were revealed by the website The Smoking Gun.

According to the new indictment, Stone was one of several U.S. persons to solicit or receive information from this front for Russian intelligence during the election.

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A congressional candidate requested and received documents allegedly stolen from Democratic Party entities by Russian intelligence operatives during the 2016 election, a federal indictment filed Friday alleged.

The indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller alleges that the unidentified candidate made the electronic request on Aug. 15, 2016, and in return received “stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.”

This gob-smacking detail was one of many in the 29-page indictment, which alleged that the Russian military intelligence agency or GRU engaged in “large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The 12 Russians indicted allegedly hacked the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and email accounts of Hillary Clinton campaign officials, and publicly disseminated the stolen information. They concealed their tracks by inventing fake personas including “Guccifer 2.0,” a rogue Romanian hacker who claimed to be behind the hacks, prosecutors alleged.

[ Who’s who: Decoding the unnamed entities in Mueller’s Russian hacking indictment (Prime access) » ]

Mueller charged the defendants with conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., aggravated identity theft and other charges.

As the indictment makes clear, the stolen information was eagerly received by some U.S. citizens.

The congressional candidate reached out to “Guccifer 2.0” asking for leaks about the candidate’s opponent.

The indictment also mentions “Guccifer 2.0” sending documents to a “then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news” and to a reporter in August of 2016.

The lobbyist received 2.5 gigabytes of data stolen from the DCCC, according to the indictment, including “donor records and personal identifying information for more than 2,0000 Democratic donors.”

The details about this interaction align with the account of Aaron Nevins, a Florida-based Republican political operative who admitted to asking “Guccifer 2.0” for any stolen documents relevant to his state. Nevins told the Wall Street Journal that he received details about the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote strategy in Florida and other swing state, and posted it on his blog,, under a pseudonym.

“Guccifer 2.0” subsequently flagged the blog post to Trump ally Roger Stone, who said he did not share the stolen data with anyone.

The indictment notes that on August 15, “Guccifer 2.0” wrote to someone “who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” thanking him “for writing back” and asking if the documents were interesting.

Two days later, the Russians asked if they could help the individual, saying “it would be a great pleasure to me.”

“Guccifer 2.0” followed up on September 9, referring to a stolen document about the Democrats’ turnout model and asking for the person’s opinion. The individual replied, “[p]retty standard.”

The reporter, who is also unidentified in the indictment, apparently received documents about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The individual “responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release,” according to Mueller’s team.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for engaging in “large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The charges include conspiracy against the United States, identity theft and money laundering.

The indictment lays out in painstaking detail how Russia hacked servers and email accounts associated with the Clinton campaign, DNC and DCCC, and then disseminated the stolen information. It also reveals that several U.S. persons, including a congressional candidate, solicited or received documents from“Guccifer 2.0.” — a fake identity created by Russian intelligence.

The White House did not condemn Russia in response, emphasizing instead that no Americans were charged. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said that the indictments prove Trump is “innocent.”

Republicans finally got an opportunity to publicly grill former FBI official Peter Strzok about the anti-Trump text messages he sent during the 2016 election. In a 10-hour hearing marked by lots of finger-wagging and theatrics, lawmakers on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees lectured Strzok on the bias that they say tainted the federal Russia investigation from the start.

But the attempted crucifixion was something of a bust. Strzok maintained throughout that his distaste for Trump didn’t influence his actions, pointing out that he could’ve actually influenced the election by divulging in the summer of 2016 that the FBI was looking into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.

Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer and Strzok’s ex-girlfriend, is appearing before the committees for closed-door hearings on Friday and Monday.

In the lead-up to the first of his two criminal trials, Manafort is bombarding the courts with requests. He successfully persuaded a Virginia federal judge to allow him to move to a jail closer to his attorneys to allow him to prepare his defense, before reversing course and saying he didn’t want to move after all.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team pointed out that Manafort had discussed the “VIP” treatment he was receiving in prison in monitored phone calls.

The judge swatted down Manafort’s second request to stay in place, calling his series of asks “confusing” and ordering that he move to a detention center in Alexandria.

Michael Flynn also experienced a week of head-snapping reversals. He announced that he and a former Trump campaign official were co-founding a firm that would carry out exactly the kind of foreign lobbying work that brought him under FBI investigation. Then, hours later, he said he wasn’t joining it quite yet. (Flynn’s would-be business partner, Nick Muzin, is also being sued by Elliot Broidy, for whom Michael Cohen negotiated hush money payments.)

That walkback may have something to do with the fact that he has not yet been sentenced in the Mueller probe. Flynn appeared in court this week for the first time in weeks, where his attorneys and Mueller’s team agreed to rush ahead with a pre-sentencing report.

Giuliani and Michael Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis traded barbs after Giuliani urged Cohen to cooperate with prosecutors and tell the “truth” about Trump. Davis said that Giuliani didn’t know the meaning of “truth,” and that Trump may have committed an “impeachable offense” by lying about asking Jim Comey to drop the Flynn investigation.

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Former FBI official Peter Strzok has now sat for 21 hours of congressional testimony, 11 in private and 10 in public.

Thursday’s public joint hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees yielded in-depth textual analyses of the anti-Trump text messages that Strzok exchanged with his former lover and colleague at the FBI, Lisa Page. There were theatrics aplenty, including a Republican threat to hold Strzok in contempt of Congress. The word “douche” was entered into the congressional record.

One lowlight was Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asking Strzok “how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her.” A Democratic lawmaker interrupted to shout that Gohmert needed his “medication.”

Former FBI officials told TPM that they were dismayed by the marathon pile-on. All of the finger-pointing, props, and raised voices, they said, exemplified the reckless norm-busting and erosion of the rule of law in the Trump era.

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” former FBI special agent Mark Pollitt told TPM in a phone interview.

“To me it was just a very sad demonstration of political theater that’s entirely designed to create sound-bites for the press,” Pollitt continued.

“It’s a show,” concurred Clint Watts, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. “I call it investigation theater.”

Things got wild almost immediately after Strzok entered the hearing room Thursday morning and took his seat to answer questions before lawmakers and TV cameras.

In the first minutes, Strzok refused to answer a question from House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) about the number of people he interviewed for the Russia probe in the first week of the investigation. Strzok said that he was following Justice Department policy, which prohibits FBI personnel from publicly discussing ongoing investigations.

But House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) promptly threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress, sparking cries of protest from Democrats on the committees and former FBI personnel.

“How dare they claim to be all for law and protecting secrets whilst at the same violating the law by demanding that an FBI agent break the law?” former FBI agent Mark Rossini asked in an email to TPM. “This is just another attempt to diminish the FBI.”

The hearing then devolved into the familiar rehashing of the text messages. Republicans pointed to Strzok’s words to ask how he could claim not to be biased, while Democrats asked rhetorical questions about whether anything he said to Page altered the material facts of the Russia investigation, which have yielded some two dozen indictments.

Strzok appeared unruffled by the drama, shifting in his seat and smirking occasionally at lawmakers’ lines of questioning. Former FBI officials commended him for keeping calm under pressure.

“I think Strzok did an amazing job of articulating his personal beliefs and how they’re separate from his professional conduct,” Pollitt told TPM. “Not that it’s going to make any difference to anybody but at the end of the day I think he explained it pretty well, and the fact that he was able to do it in a forceful way without getting upset made him look pretty professional.”

“By remaining calm, exhibiting passion only when required, & explaining himself in the face of tough questioning, Strzok looks like the normal one when compared to congressional posturing,” former FBI agent Josh Campbell chimed in on Twitter.

Each sides’ arguments have been exhaustively churned over since the existence of the Strzok-Page texts were first reported late last year. Since both Page and Strzok worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the probe into Russia’s election interference, the anti-Trump messages were proof, they said, that the entire Russia investigation was a biased effort to take down the Republican nominee.

Democrats acknowledged that the messages—which include Strzok calling Trump an “idiot” and saying “we’ll stop” him—were unprofessional and unfortunate. But they’ve countered that there is no evidence that the two FBI officials’ private thoughts impacted their work on the investigation. A months-long DOJ inspector general report concluded as much, Democrats are quick to note, and both Page and Strzok were removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe as soon as their exchanges were discovered.

Above all, as Democrats have argued in hearing after hearing, fixating on the text messages of two former FBI officials is a distraction from Russia’s concerted attempts to meddle with the 2016 U.S. election, which the CIA, FBI, NSA and Senate Intelligence Committee have all concluded occurred.

“I think the most important point was Strzok’s final point in his opening statement, which is that this is a home run for Russia because we’re continuing to fight each other,” Watts said. “In doing so we’re weakening democratic institutions and elected officials, and that’s the real goal of this influence campaign after all. It’s still working, three years later.”

Those former officials noted that the hours of testimony yielded almost no new information.

As Pollitt put it, Thursday’s hearing “didn’t add anything to what we already knew.”

Watts suggested that the charade may “backfire on Republicans,” who long pressed for Strzok to appear in public session.

“They’re dragging him there to bully him but he is now getting an opportunity, like you saw with Rod Rosenstein two weeks ago, to fire back,” he continued, saying GOP lawmakers ended up looking “silly” at both hearings.

But as Watts pointed out, few voters would probably watch the hearings. Of those that did, Republicans and Democrats would likely only see clips favorable to their parties’ narrative.

“Both sides will get what they want,” he said, “but collectively, for the country, it’s a giant waste of time.”

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The Border Patrol agent who grilled a national security reporter about classified leaks from the U.S. intelligence community is under investigation for the improper use of government computer systems, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Jeffrey Rambo was previously identified as the agent who obtained the confidential travel records of reporter Ali Watkins and pressed her to reveal her sources at a June 2017 meeting. Rambo reportedly used details about Watkins’ trip to Spain with her then-boyfriend James Wolfe, former security director of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to pressure her into divulging information.

Per the Times, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is now investigating whether the California-based agent used Watkins’ travel data improperly or illegally.

Customs and Border Protection announced last month that its Office of Professional Responsibility was also looking into Rambo’s actions.

It’s still unclear whether any other government officials were involved in this extracurricular effort to obtain confidential information from journalists, or if Rambo was acting alone.

Wolfe was arrested last month on charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters. He has pleaded not guilty.

News of his arrest also revealed that federal investigators secretly seized Watkins’ emails and phone records—the first such incident under the Trump administration.

Watkins was working at Politico in the summer of 2017 and joined the Times in December. The newspaper reassigned her from D.C. to a new beat in New York last month.

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Alabama’s Republican governor on Wednesday moved to end a decades-old practice that allowed the state’s sheriffs to pocket money set aside to pay for inmates’ meals.

Gov. Kay Ivey sent a memorandum to the state comptroller announcing this shift in policy, and released a statement saying that funds bookmarked for jail food should no longer be seen as “personal income for sheriffs.”

“Public funds should be used for public purposes—it’s that simple,” Ivey said.

Under a state law passed before World War II, sheriffs are allowed to keep any excess taxpayer dollars set aside to feed the inmates they oversee. The definition of “excess” is left up to the sheriffs’ own discretion, creating a system ripe for abuse.

In 2009, the Morgan County sheriff was jailed by a federal judge for keeping over $200,000 while feeding prisoners inadequate meals, including a weeks-long stretch where they received only corn dogs.

The practice drew renewed scrutiny this year thanks to a series of exposés in, which reported that former Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin purchased a $740,000 beach house after pocketing over $750,000 in jail food funds. Another, who is caught up in a web of criminal probes, invested $150,000 of the funds in a used-car dealership owned by a former felon.

Local sheriffs have justified by the practice by pointing out that the practice is legal. Entrekin called the allegations against him “fake news” promoted by the “liberal media.”

The Alabama Sheriffs Association did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

But Ivey’s order is not the final word on the jail food money. Her order, which notes that previous Alabama attorneys general had reached conflicting opinions on how the funds can be spent, could be challenged by lawsuits.

Ivey pointed to the most recent 2011 decision handed down by Luther Strange to bolster her claim that both the law and attorney general’s opinion are “clear.” She urged the legislature to pass a law codifying the change in policy in the next session.

“I have changed the way these funds are handled because it is the right thing to do,” the governor said.

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LATE UPDATE 7/11 10:50 a.m.: Hours after this story broke, Michael Flynn’s lawyers said the announcement was a “misunderstanding” and he had not yet joined Stonington Global. 

As he awaits sentencing for lying to federal investigators, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn is getting back in the consulting and lobbying game with a newly formed D.C. firm.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Flynn is now director of global strategy for Stonington Global LLC, a new firm founded by former Trump campaign aide-turned-Washington lobbyist Nick Muzin.

Muzin and his New York partner Joey Allaham did not personally know Flynn, but are doing business with him because “his experience speaks for itself,” Allaham told the Journal.

The duo’s most recent venture was a $300,000 per month positive PR campaign for Qatar that involved brokering connections between the royal family and associates of President Donald Trump. Muzin announced in June that the contract was ending after his firm was sued by Elliott Broidy, a top Trump fundraiser, on allegations that it helped Qatar hack into Broidy’s emails.

“I will work every day to put my 33 years of experience in the military and serving Presidents of both parties in the White House to good use in helping companies and governments enhance the goals of freedom and liberty,” Mr. Flynn said in a statement.

The news about Flynn’s new job opportunity comes the same day that the former senior U.S. official appeared in court for the first time since his plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller was announced last December.

Flynn faces up to six months in prison for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. As part of his plea deal, he also admitted to working as an unregistered agent for Turkey in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Flynn has been cooperating with Mueller’s team for months, and the special counsel has thrice requested that his sentencing date be pushed back. Legal experts say that these requests indicate that Flynn is still providing valuable information to federal prosecutors.

Muzin and Allaham told the Journal that they believe Flynn will avoid jail time, but that he would need to step away from the firm for some period if he does end up being incarcerated.

A Stonington Global LLC was incorporated in Delaware on July 2, 2018, according to an online state database.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Youtube video titled “Stonington Global” was posted by a user with the name “Joesph [sic] Allaham.” Set to a twanging music loop, the brief clip advertises services like “election strategies,” “cyber security” and “defense procurement” as images of aircraft carriers and consultants pouring over spreadsheets flicker by.

Also joining Stonington is Flynn’s conspiracy-stoking son and former chief of staff, Michael Flynn Jr., but the firm did not specify what role the younger Flynn would have.

Flynn Jr. was actively involved in his father’s Turkey lobbying work, and the elder Flynn’s decision to cooperate with federal investigators was reportedly motivated in part by concern about the legal jeopardy Flynn Jr. faced.

The younger Flynn is known for his active support of the bizarre Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which holds that top Democratic operatives are involved in a child sex trafficking ring. As recently as Monday, Flynn Jr. was also promoting conspiracies about the death of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was killed in a botched D.C. mugging.

Flynn Jr. was removed from Trump’s presidential transition team for spreading bogus stories on social media.

This post has been updated.

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President Trump on Tuesday issued full pardons to Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond, Oregon cattle ranchers convicted for arson who became a cause célèbre among the anti-government far-right.

“The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West,” the White House said in a statement. “Justice is overdue.”

The Hammonds’ case inspired the weeks-long 2016 armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a federal national preserve in rural Oregon, by “sovereign citizen” militia activists led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy. Hammond supporters viewed the sentencing of the father-son duo as proof of federal government overreach.

Their case dates back to a series of fires they set on public lands that prompted warnings from the Bureau of Land Management. In 2012, they were convicted for a massive 2001 fire they set that burned 139 acres of public land and interrupted production on the lands for two growing seasons. The Hammonds claimed that they were trying to burn off invasive species, but the Justice Department maintained that the fires were set to cover up the Hammonds’ illegal slaughter of deer on BLM property.

Their convictions became a flashpoint in Oregon’s ranching community, with some resenting that the Hammonds were convicted under a 1996 law targeting domestic terrorists.

At sentencing, an Oregon federal judge imposed limited sentences of three months imprisonment for Dwight Hammond and a year and a day for Steven Hammond, who faced separate charges for another fire he had set in 2006. The judge said that imposing the law’s five-year mandatory minimum would “shock the conscience” given the charges.

But the DOJ appealed the sentence to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which, in 2015, ordered that the pair be re-sentenced. In her subsequent re-sentencing, Oregon federal judge Ann Aiken upheld the mandatory minimum, with time served, noting that arson is a dangerous federal crime that places human lives in jeopardy, and she sent the Hammonds back to jail.

It was that decision that sparked the uprising at Malheur. The Bundy brothers—already versed in clashes with the BLM from the 2014 armed standoff over cattle grazing rights that their father, Cliven, led on their family’s Nevada ranch—decamped to Oregon to take control of the wildlife refuge.

During the dramatic 40-day standoff, one of the militia members, LaVoy Finicum, was fatally shot in a standoff with law enforcement, sparking anti-government conspiracy theories. The Malheur takeover ended with some 26 people being charged with felony conspiracy to prevent federal workers from doing their jobs, among other charges.
Most have since been acquitted by federal grand juries.

In its Tuesday statement, the Trump White House blamed the Obama administration for taking an “overzealous” and “unjust” approach towards the Hammonds’ case.

The Hammonds had filed paperwork with the DOJ formally requesting a pardon, and their petition received some 8,500 signatures.

Trump’s decision to grant the pair executive clemency is the latest in a string of pardons for high-profile conservatives. The administration has also granted pardons to controversial figures including far-right pundit Dinesh D’Souza, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and former George W. Bush White House official Scooter Libby.

Tierney Sneed contributed reporting. 

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A Michigan group has collected over 430,000 signatures to get a measure expanding voting access on the November ballot, in the latest citizen-driven push to modernize and streamline the voting system in that key Midwestern state.

Promote the Vote, a non-partisan group backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, and League of Women Voters, submitted the signatures to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office on Monday, the deadline for any ballot measures that would amend the state constitution.

“Today is a good day,” Todd Cook, Promote the Vote’s campaign director, told TPM in a Monday phone interview.

The proposal would impose fixes including automatic voter registration, same-day registration, access to absentee ballots on request, and better access for military service members and overseas voters.

It is the second sweeping citizen-driven ballot measure intended to address issues with voting access and fairness in a state that narrowly swung for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

The other is an anti-gerrymandering proposal brought by Voters Not Politicians (VNP). That measure seeks to take power to draw congressional and legislative maps away from the state legislature and turn it over to a 13-member redistricting commission.

The VNP proposal was finally approved for the November ballot last month after a months-long legal fight brought by Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution (CPMC), a conservative group backed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. But that fight is not yet over.

Though the Michigan Court of Appeals strongly ruled in VNP’s favor, Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette successfully pushed the Michigan Supreme Court to consider overruling that decision. Both CPMC and Schuette maintain that the proposal is so complex that it can’t be considered an amendment to the state Constitution, and should instead be addressed at a constitutional convention. The Republican-dominated state Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the initiative on July 18.

Bearing witness to this ugly legal battle has not deterred Cook and his army of volunteers, he told TPM.

“You always hope that people will look at matters in terms of what they actually are and not read into any political implications,” Cook said of possible court challenges. “We’ll see what happens in terms of Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution and what they do.”

Cook said that Promote the Vote’s proposal was “much simpler and much more straightforward” than VNP’s, which would make it difficult for CPMC to just replicate the same line of attack.

CPMC spokesperson Dave Doyle told TPM that the group had not yet reviewed Promote the Vote’s amendment and had no further comment at this time.

For now, Promote the Vote is waiting for the Secretary of State’s office to certify their signatures and holding its breath for any possible legal challenges. According to Cook, they have organized community meetings across the state and are going door-to-door to try to educate Michiganders about the reforms they hope to achieve.

This post has been updated. 

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