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Voting Rights Primer: Internal Docs Give Look Inside Trump’s Voter Fraud Panel

Voting rights primer
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August 6, 2018 11:55 a.m.

In a major victory for voting rights, the Michigan state Supreme Court, where a majority of the justices are Republican, will let voters this fall approve or reject a ballot initiative to reform the state’s redistricting process into a 13-person independent commission. The conservative activists who were challenging the ballot measure said that they are accepting the court’s decision and will not continue the legal fight.

Thousands of pages of internal documents and emails related to President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission became public on Friday, after a Democratic commissioner brought a lawsuit alleging a lack of transparency. The docs show internal discussions about drafting a letter to state election officials seeking voter roll data — a letter that, when sent last year, prompted backlash among Democratic and Republican election officials alike. The Democratic commissioner, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, said in a letter with the release of the documents that the internal materials lack any “evidence of widespread voter fraud.”

“That the commission predicted it would find widespread evidence of fraud actually reveals a troubling bias,” Dunlap said.

Another batch of internal documents related to the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the Census dropped over the weekend, as part of litigation over the issue. The documents offer more evidence that the Commerce Department, led by Secretary Wilbur Ross, was working on adding the question well before the Justice Department formally requested that it do so, ostensibly to help with Voting Rights Act enforcement. Nonetheless, the DOJ request was the administration’s initial justification for adding the question.

The New York Times on Thursday had a must-read report on a county in North Carolina that is particularly harsh on people who break election laws by voting while on probation or parole, often arresting or jailing them. Alamance County’s felon disenfranchisement law is currently the subject of a lawsuit brought by a civil rights group, which contends that it is racist. Voters who were prosecuted under the law told the Times that no one told them, during their sentencing hearings, that they were not allowed to vote while on probation or parole.

A North Carolina Supreme Court candidate is suing over a recently passed GOP law removing his party ID from his name on November’s ballot. Any candidate who changed party affiliations within 90 days of filing will not have that party label next to his or her name, under the new law, which appears to be an effort by Republican legislators to boost the GOP incumbent in the state Supreme Court race. They had previously canceled a primary election for the seat in order to help the incumbent, but that plan backfired when another candidate, Chris Anglin, jumped into the race as a Republican. Anglin, who switched parties three weeks before filing, is now suing over the new law blocking his party ID from appearing on the ballot.

On Monday’s 53rd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, former First Lady Michelle Obama announced that she would leading a week of action in September to encourage voter registration.

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