Election Administration

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 But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has withdrawn from this undertaking, and, just as he did when he was a senator, he has embraced the vote-suppression agenda.”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.”

More Than 3,000 Colorado Voters Cancel Registrations

“Nearly 3,400 Coloradans canceled their voter registrations in the wake of the Trump administration’s request for voter info, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Thursday, providing the first statewide glimpse at the extent of the withdrawals,” the Denver Post reports.

“The 3,394 cancellations represent a vanishingly small percentage of the electorate — 0.09 percent of the state’s 3.7 million registered voters. But the figure is striking nonetheless, with some county election officials reporting that they’ve never seen anything quite like it in their careers.”

States Push New Voter Requirements

NBC News: “Missouri is one of eight states that have passed or are implementing laws with more rigorous voter identification requirements this year.”

“Fueled by President Donald Trump, who has claimed, without evidence, that voter fraud deprived him of the popular vote in 2016, there’s more energy behind election legislation than ever before. Trump has appointed a federal commission to find and combat voter fraud — a problem experts say doesn’t exist on a large scale.”

“Trump’s stance is already playing out in court: His Justice Department, which under President Barack Obama fought Texas over its voter ID law, filed a motion Thursday supporting the latest version of the law… But it is the states, where Republican-controlled legislatures are using more sophisticated tactics than they have previously, that are poised to have the most immediate effect in the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election.”

Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission May Have Broken Law

President Trump’s voter fraud commission “may have violated the law by ignoring federal requirements governing requests for information from states,” The Hill reports.

“Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, information requests from agencies and other federal entities are supposed to first be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). This 1980 law requires federal agencies to seek public input, including through a comment period, before a request for information.”

Rick Hasen: “The Trump commission process has been so poorly handled that whatever it concludes will be likely ignored by serious people, even while the president latches onto it to make it harder for people to register and vote. He’s overplayed his hand, and we should be thankful for that.”

41 States Refuse Request for Voter Information

“Forty-one states have refused the Trump administration’s request for certain voter information,” according to a CNN inquiry to all 50 states.

“State leaders and voting boards across the country have responded to the letter with varying degrees of cooperation — from altogether rejecting the request to expressing eagerness to supply information that is public.”

So far, just three states — Colorado, Missouri and Tennessee — have shown a willingness to work with the commission.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Sun reports the “election integrity” panel saw its first resignation: Maryland’s deputy secretary of state Luis Borunda (R).

Even Kobach Won’t Give Voter Data He Asked For

“Multiple states plan to buck Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s request for personal information on voters on behalf of a presidential commission,” the Kansas City Star reports.

“Kobach said Friday that Kansas also won’t be sharing Social Security information with the commission, for which he serves as vice chairman, at this time.”

“Kobach sent letters to every state requesting names, addresses, voting history and other personal information, such as the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, earlier this week.”

Trump Voter Fraud Chair Wants Info on Every Voter

Washington Post: “The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state.”

“While civil-liberties advocates are concerned with what Kobach might do with what would amount to a nationwide voter file, privacy advocates worry about the implications of making such data available to the public, as the commission says it intends to do.”