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Voting Rights: House Dems To Seek Answers From Ross On Census Citizenship Question

Voting rights primer
March 11, 2019 12:32 p.m.

Another federal judge, this one in California, blocked the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question. The injunction handed down by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg Wednesday was broader than the one handed down by a judge in New York earlier this year; Seeborg banned a citizenship question from being added to the census for any reason because it would harm the survey’s accuracy. Whether the question is removed will ultimately be up to the Supreme Court, which has scheduled arguments for reviewing the New York case for next month. The Trump administration submitted its brief defending the move on Wednesday.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who ultimately made the decision to add the question, is slated to appear in front of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday, after the committee refused his request to delay the testimony.

The House Oversight Committee is also ramping up an investigation into alleged voter suppression in Georgia. It sent letters to Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA), who previously served as the secretary of state, and current Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, requesting documents on a range of controversial election policies and proposals.

The Iowa legislature is considering a bill that would effectively ban early voting sites at the state’s public universities. A bill that banned early voting on campuses in Florida was struck down by a judge last year. The Iowa legislation also shrinks the hours polls are open on Election Day and stiffens some of the requirements around absentee voting.

New Hampshire lawmakers are moving forward with a bipartisan effort to reform redistricting in the state. There are separate bills in the state House and Senate that would create independent redistricting commissions. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has kept his power dry on the issue, saying that he doesn’t think that a change to the current system is urgently needed but also stopping short of vowing a veto.

Next Monday, an appeals court in Utah will hear arguments in Kansas’ appeal of the proof of citizenship voter registration case. A federal judge previously invalidated the requirement, which was championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kansas is still defending the requirement in court, but has backed away from other Kobach policies.

The Supreme Court last Monday declined to take up a challenge to a Utah law that allows candidates to qualify for the primary ballot through one of two methods: collecting signatures or by winning votes at their party caucus convention. The Republican Party in the state sued over the law, but has been unsuccessful in blocking it.

House Democrats passed Friday their democracy overhaul legislation, which included measures to increase access to the polls, expand voter registration opportunities and reform redistricting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vehemently opposes the bill, so it has no chance in the upper chamber.

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