Election Administration

Trump Voting Panel Criticized By Insiders

“President Trump’s advisory commission on election integrity has integrity questions of its own — with some of its own members raising concerns about its openness,” the AP reports.

“This past week, two members fired off letters to commission staff complaining about a lack of information about the panel’s agenda and demanding answers about its activities. That comes as Democratic U.S. senators are requesting a government investigation of the commission for ignoring formal requests from Congress. The criticism from the commissioners was remarkable because it came from insiders — the very people who are supposed to be privy to its internal discussions and plans.”

States Move to Upgrade Election Systems

“State election officials, worried about the integrity of their voting systems, are pressing to make them more secure ahead of next year’s midterm elections,” the New York Times reports.

“Reacting in large part to Russian efforts to hack the presidential election last year, a growing number of states are upgrading electoral databases and voting machines, and even adding cybersecurity experts to their election teams. The efforts — from both Democrats and Republicans — amount to the largest overhaul of the nation’s voting infrastructure since the contested presidential election in 2000 spelled an end to punch-card ballots and voting machines with mechanical levers.”

Senate Panel Will Sound Alarm on Russian Meddling

“Senate Intelligence Committee leaders are expected on Wednesday to largely endorse the intelligence community’s findings that Russia sought to sway the 2016 U.S. election through a hacking and influence campaign as they sound the alarm that states preparing for the coming election season must be vigilant against similar threats,” the Washington Post reports.

Court Appears Divided In Major Voting Rights Case

“U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared divided over whether to issue a ruling that would curb the ability of politicians to draw electoral districts purely on partisan lines in a major voting rights case out of Wisconsin,” Reuters reports.

“Some of the conservative justices questioned whether Democratic voters challenging the maps drawn by Republicans in Wisconsin had legal standing to bring the case. But the potential swing vote, conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, asked tough questions of the state’s lawyers.”

“The liberal justices appeared more eager for the court to rule that partisan electoral maps could violate the U.S. Constitution.”

New York Times: How the new math of gerrymandering works.

Trump’s FEC Pick Under Fire

No more than a day since President Trump announced he would nominate James “Trey” Trainor III as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, the former election lawyer for the Trump presidential campaign is already under fire on multiple fronts, the National Law Journal reports.

“Perhaps to be expected, the nomination of Trainor was almost immediately opposed by advocacy groups such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — a nonprofit headed by former ethics czars in the Bush and Obama administrations — who said that Trainor stood for ‘exactly the opposite’ of what the FEC does: Police money in politics.”

“Perhaps less expected, Trainor’s Twitter feed came under the spotlight after users found that he had retweeted posts expressing what appeared to be anti-Protestant views.”

How Trump Is Trying to Rig the Vote for 2020

Jeffrey Toobin: “The results of Trump’s voting commission are preordained. It will inevitably seek to impose measures that will have the effect of erecting barriers to voting for poor people, who generally vote Democratic. The commission will call for requiring more forms of identification to register, and the possession of photo identification to actually cast ballots. In addition, the commission will almost certainly pursue limitations on early voting and absentee balloting, all as part of a supposed effort to combat fraud. During the Obama Administration, the Justice Department, under Eric Holder and then Loretta Lynch, got courts to limit some of the worst voter-suppression efforts, especially those in Texas and North Carolina. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has withdrawn from this undertaking, and, just as he did when he was a senator, he has embraced the vote-suppression agenda.”

“If the President had the slightest inclination toward bipartisanship, as some appear to think he displayed last week, he would disband the fraud commission. It exists solely to help the Republican Party, with no residual benefits for anyone else in the country. Trump, of course, will not disband it, and his failure to do so will be the clearest evidence (if any is needed) that there was no pivot last week, but at most a very slight detour on the road to an electoral future of Republican dominance.”

Trump Commission Sees Fraud In New Hampshire

Washington Post: “Days before they meet in New Hampshire, members of the White House’s Election Integrity Commission have seized on a report about same-day registration to allege that massive fraud might have swung the state’s 2016 vote. Both voters and election experts say the allegation — accusing thousands of voters of criminal activity simply for living in New Hampshire but holding out-of-state driver’s licenses — are baseless.”

Russian Hacking Efforts Draw Little Scrutiny

New York Times: “After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.”

“The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus — voter-registration operations, state and local election databases, e-poll books and other equipment — have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed.”

Judge Rejects Revised Voter ID Law in Texas

“A federal judge blocked Texas from enforcing its revamped voter identification law on Wednesday, ruling that the State Legislature’s attempt to loosen the law did not go far enough and perpetuated discrimination against black and Hispanic voters,” the New York Times reports.

“The decision was only the latest chapter in a yearslong court battle over the state’s voter ID rules, and comes amid concerted efforts by the Trump administration to enact tougher voting restrictions. The stakes are particularly high for Texas: As a result of previous court rulings, the state could be forced to undergo federal oversight of its election procedures.”

Rick Hasen: “Ultimately this case is heading to the Supreme Court. What kind of reception it gets there will likely depend upon (1) whether Justice Kennedy is still on the Court and (2) how Justice Kennedy, if still on the Court, views the evidence of intentional discrimination in this case.”

Ex-Trump Aides Start Voter ‘Registration’ Effort

“With President Trump’s poll numbers slipping, a group of the president’s former campaign aides is beginning an effort to encourage new voters in parts of the country that supported him in the election, and to stop what they contend are illegal votes in Democratic areas,” the New York Times reports.

“The former aides are starting a group called Look Ahead America to identify ‘disaffected’ rural and working-class Americans who either do not vote or are not on the voter rolls… Look Ahead America also seeks to discourage or invalidate ‘fraudulent’ votes by deploying poll watchers with cameras, and through what it called a forensic voter fraud investigation to identify ‘votes cast in the names of the deceased, by illegal immigrants or non-citizens.'”

Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Putin’s Election Plot

Time: “On Nov. 1, the White House went so far as to war-game an Election Day attack. Over the course of five hours, the National Security Council ran a fictionalized sequence of events to rehearse how federal agencies would communicate and respond in a real attack. Some of the scenarios dealt with actual vote meddling, while others focused on disinformation efforts to undermine the election. As the nightmare scenarios unfolded—from voters turned away to violence at polling places—the team went over what actions each agency would take and what the legal constraints were on what they could do.”

Quote of the Day

“If any state doesn’t want to share this information, one has to wonder: What are they worried about? There’s something. There always is.”

— President Trump, quoted by the Daily Mail, making a surprise appearance at a meeting of his “voter fraud” commission.