Texas escapes Voting Rights Act “Bail-In”: Even after several court decisions found that Texas was intentionally discriminating against voters of color, the state still managed to escape the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act. Being placed under preclearance would by an acknowledgement of the state’s tendency to discriminate, and would require the state to get federal approval for election policy changes. But a three-judge panel last week declined a request to put Texas back under the preclearance process. The court cited a 2018 Supreme Court decision that upheld the interim legislative maps the state adopted after the 2011 maps were ruled to be intentionally discriminatory. Altogether, the new decision means that, for the first time in decades, Texas won’t have to get federal approval for the maps it draws in 2021; prior to the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County decision, it was covered under a separate VRA provision requiring preclearance.
Dems sound alarm about Trump’s citizenship data power grab: The census citizenship question is dead, but its goals of shifting electoral advantages to whites and Republicans are still very much alive in the executive order directing the collection of citizenship data — in part to be used for redistricting and apportionment — Trump signed this month. Democrats are upping their pushback on the move:
Meanwhile the Justice Department told the House it won’t pursue charges for Secretary Ross or Attorney General Barr after both were held in congressional contempt for defying House census probe subpoenas.
Miami officials working on plan to get around Florida’s “poll tax”: The fight against the so-called “poll tax” law Florida Republicans enacted is expanding. The law was passed to undercut a ballot initiative that restored the voting rights of ex-felons; state legislators rushed to water down the initiative by requiring that ex-felons pay back all fines and fees — including administrative ones — rather than just the financial penalty associated with their sentence. Officials in Miami-Dade County, however, are laying out an interpretation of the law that would only require an ex-felon to repay of the fines handed down at sentencing before regaining the franchise. It’s a model other Florida municipalities could follow.
Trump is at it again: The President made some more baseless and ridiculous claims about mass voter fraud. “They vote many times, not just twice, not just three times,” he said during a speech at a Turning Point USA event.
New details about Russia’s 2016 election cyber attacks: The Senate Intelligence Committee released on Thursday the first of its Russia probe reports — this one focusing on the attempted cyberintrusions in 2016. It gave new details about what had happened in the 21 states previously said to have been targeted by the Russians, as well as the confusion and tension that arose between the feds and states about how to address the attempted breaches.
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