This Week in Voter Suppression June 1 – 7

By Chris deLaubenfels

The 2020 Census: Advantageous to Republicans and Whites

Last week, news broke that Thomas Hofeller, the GOP strategist behind Republicans’ gerrymandering strategy, was the driving force behind adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Hofeller wrote that adding a citizenship question “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.” Hofeller later drafted a key portion of a Justice Department letter deceitfully claiming that the citizenship question was needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act. These documents confirm that the citizenship question was added to benefit white voters and suppress the votes of communities of color and Democrats, and was not due to the Trump administration’s sudden concern for Voting Rights Act enforcement (shocker).  

On Wednesday, Judge Jesse M. Furman of the Southern District of New York described the uncovered evidence, which indicates that Trump officials lied under oath about the origins of the citizenship question, as “serious, not frivolous,” but asked for more briefing before determining if sanctions are warranted. The Supreme Court will rule on the census citizenship question soon and it is unclear whether they will consider the Hofeller smoking gun evidence.

To learn more about the census citizenship question and what the Hofeller documents reveal about the GOP’s voter suppression strategies, listen to Rick Hasen, Hansi Lo Wang, and Dale Ho discuss the issue.


On Tuesday, Florida Senator Rick Scott said he supports the citizenship question on the 2020 Census because Congressional representation should be based on citizens, not people. While his stance demonstrates a complete disregard of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Sen. Scott made clear that he prioritizes voter suppression over ensuring adequate representation and funding for his Florida constituents.


According to projections released by the Urban Institute, challenges threatening the 2020 Census may lead to more than 4 million people of being miscounted. Nationally, 1.7 million black and 2.2 million Latinx residents may be undercounted.

The (Unconstitutional) Purge: Texas

In another case of recently released documents showing Republicans trying to strip Americans’ voting rights, a week after Texas Acting Secretary of State David Whitley resigned over his role in a botched voter purge, it turns out Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was behind the voter suppression scheme.  

Emails released this week show that Gov. Abbott’s office made an urgent request to the Texas Department of Public Safety to obtain driver’s license data in order to identify non-citizens on the voter rolls. Whitley used the driver’s license data to spread the lies that 95,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in Texas and that 58,000 non-citizens had voted in Texas elections. Texas subsequently settled a lawsuit related to those lies, agreeing to stop the unconstitutional voter purge and leaving Texas taxpayers on the hook for $450,000.  

If you’re concerned about Whitley’s career prospects post-resignation, rest easy: Whitley, a former aide of Gov. Abbott, received a new job in the governor’s office that pays $205k. Whitley and Gov. Abbott have both violated the public trust in orchestrating Texas’ illegal, racist voting purge and both need to go.

Florida’s Massive Poll Tax

In November 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million people with felony convictions. In May, the Republican led Florida legislature decided that allowing more people to vote threatened their job security and decided to implement a poll tax against the recently re-enfranchised individuals. Florida residents with felony convictions must now pay fines, fees, and other “financial obligations” before they will be allowed to exercise their right to vote. A recent report found that, in just three Florida counties, the total amount of money people with felony records would need to pay back in order to vote is over $1 billion. We need to fight back against these Jim Crow-era voter suppression laws.

Good News in Voting Rights

On Tuesday, the 19th Amendment, which guarantees all women the right to vote, turned 100 years old! Watch Senator Tammy Duckworth’s speech celebrating the suffragists who fought for women’s right to vote and urging Americans to honor those suffragists by fighting to end voter suppression today.

ICYMI, last week Nevada passed a criminal justice reform bill that restores the voting rights of individuals with felony convictions. The bill will enfranchise 77,000 people. According to a 2016 study by The Sentencing Project, approximately 6 million people nationwide cannot vote due to felony disenfranchisement — so we have a ways to go!