This Week in Voter Suppression June 8 – 14

By Chris deLaubenfels, Director of Policy and Communications, Let America Vote

Lies and Racial Gerrymandering

The unearthed files of GOP gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller continue to reveal the extent of Republicans’ lies in implementing anti-voter policies. First, Hofeller’s files shed light on the true origin of the racist, pro-Republican citizenship question on the 2020 census. Now, Hofeller’s files have made clear that North Carolina Republicans lied to a federal court in 2017 about their use of racial data to gerrymander the state’s electoral maps. Relying on the Republicans’ lies, the court did not order special elections in 2017, so GOP lawmakers were again elected under an unconstitutional, racially gerrymandered map. Hofeller’s files confirm that Republicans have no problem lying and violating the Constitution in order to steal elections.

Sen. McConnell Protecting President Trump’s Ego Instead of Our Elections

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the one person standing in the way of making elections in America more secure. In response to Robert Mueller’s finding that Russia engaged in a “sweeping and systematic” attack on our election in 2016, Democrats have introduced legislation that would provide state and local governments with $1 billion to improve election security. There are now bipartisan proposals in both the House and Senate that would further bolster election integrity. However, Sen. McConnell has made clear he will not consider any legislation to protect our elections. Sen. McConnell is placing our democracy at risk.  

Reports have made clear that Pres. Trump views any focus on election security, particularly in regards to Russian attacks, as a challenge to the legitimacy of his 2016 victory. There are serious concerns that our current election security leaves us vulnerable to attacks in 2020, but, like Pres. Trump, Sen. McConnell welcomes Russian interference.

Granite State Democrats Send Pro-Voter Bills to Governor: Vote Free or Die

In 2017 and 2018, a GOP controlled New Hampshire legislature enacted laws that raised barriers to voting for eligible Granite State voters and levied a poll tax against students. Even though Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said he “hated” a nearly identical bill that suppressed the student vote, he signed both undemocratic bills into law.

In response, New Hampshire voters kicked the Republicans out of power in both the state House and Senate. Late last week, Democratic legislators in New Hampshire passed two bills that would repeal GOP bills enacted in 2018. Those bills, which would restore voting rights to eligible New Hampshire residents, are heading to Gov. Sununu’s desk for his signature. We won’t hold our breath for Gov. Sununu to do the right thing, but he should. In any event, we need to keep working to ensure that Republicans do not continue to disenfranchise New Hampshire voters.

Census Coverup

The Trump administration is now involved in a new coverup. On Wednesday, Pres. Trump invoked executive privilege over documents requested by Congress related to the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. In response, the House Oversight Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to comply with subpoenas. The withheld documents may further show that the Trump administration purported rationale for adding the citizenship question – concern over Voting Rights Act enforcement – is bogus. The American people deserve to know the true origins of the citizenship question. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez framed the issue well:  “I want to know why people like Kris Kobach, with a résumé of voter suppression techniques, have their fingerprints all over the citizenship question on the census?”

Good News in Voting Rights

A bill that would make Maine the 18th state to establish automatic voter registration has been sent to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

New York legislators are looking to expand voting rights before the end of this session.

Lawmakers in Syracuse, NY passed an election reform law to appoint an independent commission to redraw local election districts. Preventing gerrymandering at all levels of government is crucial!

An op-ed in the New York Times outlined some of the benefits of vote-by-mail initiatives.