Zachary Roth

Zachary Roth is a former national reporter for MSNBC and the author of The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy (Crown, 2016). He has written for The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, Politico, and The Daily Beast, among others, and is the founder of The Daily Democracy.

Articles by Zachary

It looks like Scott Walker doesn’t have a ton of confidence in the GOP’s ability to win elections in the Trump era.

On Thursday a court ruled that Walker has to hold two special elections, which he was trying to avoid doing. Now, Allegra Kirkland reports, Walker is working with the Republican state legislature to change state law governing special elections, rendering the court ruling moot. In other words, he’s changing the law to avoid holding elections he’s afraid the GOP might lose.

Democrats are calling the move a “clear attack on democracy.” Hard to argue with that.

“I’m with the Bush-Cheney team, and I’m here to stop the count.”

That’s what John Bolton reportedly said as he entered a room in Tallahassee, Fla. in December 2000 where election workers were re-counting the votes from the recent presidential election.

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So on Wednesday, TPM’s Allegra Kirkland received a tip from a Federal Election Commission staffer: Buried in a recently published FEC rule-making document about requiring online ads to disclose who’s behind them, said the staffer, is an “Easter egg.”

Allegra was getting the tip, the staffer said, because she was the only reporter who correctly noted that the FEC’s recent disclosure that it’ll start looking into whether the NRA received Russian money to help Trump was little more than a standard step in response to a complaint, not a full-blown investigation.

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As we reported Wednesday, Pennsylvania Republicans have taken the remarkable step of introducing a measure to impeach four of the state Supreme Court’s seven judges. The judges, all Democrats, had angered GOP lawmakers by striking down an extreme gerrymander that favored their party and ordering that it be replaced with a fairer map.

But it’s worth noting that it’s not just in the Keystone State where lawmakers, almost always Republicans, are trying to manipulate state courts in order to make it easier to advance their political goals. The most egregious case is in North Carolina, where the GOP legislature conducted a sweeping overhaul of the state court system after judges blocked parts of their conservative agenda. Among other steps, lawmakers drew new state judicial districts in an effort to boost the number of Republicans on lower courts, and cut the number of seats on the state Court of Appeals so that the Democratic governor couldn’t fill an open seat.

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On Monday, the Supreme Court said it wouldn’t get involved in Pennsylvania’s redistricting case. That means the state’s voters will go to the polls this fall using re-drawn congressional districts that aren’t illegally gerrymandered by the GOP.

But it raises a question: North Carolina’s congressional map also was ruled a Republican gerrymander. It was drawn, an appeals court found, with “invidious partisan intent.” In fact, the court found that two districts were not just partisan gerrymanders but racially discriminatory gerrymanders that reduced the impact of black votes. North Carolina’s map, though, is likely to still be in effect this November.

So why do Pennsylvanians get to use fair(-ish) maps while North Carolinians don’t? Blame SCOTUS, basically.

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A report today by TPM’s Allegra Kirkland poured some cold water on the news that the Federal Election Commission is looking into whether Russians illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Trump’s campaign. In fact, it looks like the agency has done little more than acknowledge it received a complaint on the issue from a Democratic group.

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One last glimpse at the racially tinged amateur hour that Kris Kobach seems to have put on in defending his strict voter registration law:

ACLU lawyer Dale Ho cross-examined Jesse Richman, a witness for Kobach, about the methodology in a controversial study Richman produced showing significant rates of non-citizen voting. In the study, Richman coded certain respondents who had “foreign”-sounding names, for weighting purposes.

Tierney Sneed reports:

After going over some of the names Richman coded as foreign — two respondents with the last name Lopez were coded as foreign, and three Lopezes were not — Ho asked Richman how he would code the name “Carlos Murguia.” Richman said he’d probably code the name as “foreign.” Ho pointed out that Murguia is a federal judge in the same courthouse in which the trial is taking place. Richman admitted he wasn’t aware of that.

“You’re not here to advocate, you’re not here to trash the advocate, you’re not here to argue with me.”

That was Judge Julie Robinson just now, upbraiding Kobach witness Jesse Richman, for interrupting her and the ACLU’s lawyer, Tierney Sneed reports.

Richman is the “expert” whose study of non-citizen voting was cited by the White House to support Trump’s false claim that he would have won the popular vote if it weren’t for millions of illegal votes.

It sounds like voter fraud huckster Hans von Spakovsky’s claims about rampant illegal voting were given the thorough debunking they deserve by the ACLU’s Dale Ho during the trial over Kansas’s proof of citizenship law Friday.

Tierney Sneed reports:

Ho moved on from the report itself to claims that von Spakovsky — and Kobach — have made in op-eds, that Somali nationals voting illegally tipped a state legislative race in Missouri.

A state court ruling found that there was no fraud in the race.

Von Spakovsky said he “was not aware of that” when he wrote his op-ed. Asked if he attempted to retract the claim, von Spakovsky said he didn’t recall when he found out.

That’s kind of how it went.

So last September, a reporter asked Hans von Spakovsky — one of the leaders of the conservative push to hype voter fraud — whether he was the sender of an email that said putting Democrats or mainstream Republicans on Trump’s voter fraud commission would lead to its “abject failure.”

Von Spakoskvy denied it. “I don’t know anything about that,” he said.

Hours later, it was revealed that von Spakovsky had indeed sent the email. He later claimed, implausibly, that he was confused because the reporter had phrased her question imprecisely.

And now, Tierney Sneed reports, the whole embarrassing episode is being entered into evidence to impeach von Spakovsky’s credibility as a witness in the trial over Kansas’s strict voter registration law. Including the transcript of the reporter’s audio recording, in which von Spakovsky falsely denies sending the email.