Yesterday, the States United Democracy Center hosted a press briefing with Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and the election experts who have been granted access to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to observe the so-called “audit” in Arizona. This was the first time the election experts have spoken jointly to the press, and parts of the press briefing were carried on MSNBC. The three specialists, Elizabeth Howard, Jennifer Morrell, and Ryan Macias, and I were joined by Secretary Hobbs, former Arizona Attorney General and States United Advisory Board member Grant Woods. We discussed the letter sent by the U.S. Department of Justice to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann and heard directly from the expert observers about what they are witnessing on the ground. During the briefing, Secretary Hobbs warned about the potential for similar antics in other states. “They’re writing the playbook to take this across the country,” she said.
Looking ahead to next week, we are preparing for the Senate mark-up of S.1, the For the People Act. We’ve updated our H.R.1/S.1 state impact report to include analysis of Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, West Virginia, and updated fact sheets for Georgia (post-SB202 passage) and Florida (post-SB90 passage). As a reminder, the report examines how the For the People Act affects federal elections in particular states, with a focus on how the legislation would protect the freedom to vote and help thwart voter suppression efforts sweeping statehouses across the country. The full report and previous state impact fact sheets are available on our resources page here.
I’ve also included below a round up of some of the issues we are tracking as we prepare for more voter suppression efforts at the state level, with Governor Ron DeSantis signing a bill this week (SB90) and similar legislation likely on the move in Texas next week.
Finally, I wanted to share that the States United Democracy Center received recognition from Fast Company for this year’s “World Changing Ideas Awards” under the categories of “On The Rise” and “General Excellence.” We are grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting state leaders and fighting alongside our partners to protect American democracy.
Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center
Here is this week’s update:
|New York Times: “Constitutional Challenges Loom Over Proposed Voting Bill.” By Adam Liptak. (May 6, 2021)|
“If the sweeping voting rights bill that the House passed in March overcomes substantial hurdles in the Senate to become law, it would reshape American elections and represent a triumph for Democrats eager to combat the wave of election restrictions moving through Republican-controlled state legislatures. But passage of the bill, known as H.R. 1, would end a legislative fight and start a legal war that could dwarf the court challenges aimed at the Affordable Care Act over the past decade.”
Politico: “Trump attorney, other allies launch voter fraud organization.” By Alex Isenstadt. (May 6, 2021)
“Former President Donald Trump has been fixated on election fraud since leaving the White House, and now a group of prominent allies are launching a new initiative focused on it. The American Greatness Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group aligned with the ex-president, is set to unveil the formation of the Election Integrity Alliance on Wednesday, which it says will be ‘focused on ending election fraud and strengthening election safeguards by providing information, resources, endorsements of allies’ efforts, and solutions to secure free and fair elections.’”
Washington Post: “Democrats tweak marquee voting bill as they seek path out of Senate.” By Mike DeBonis. (May 5, 2021)
“Congressional Democrats have tweaked their marquee voting-rights, campaign-finance and ethics bill ahead of a Senate committee vote next week, addressing concerns raised by elections administrators but forgoing a more radical rewrite of the legislation. The changes to the For the People Act come after the bill passed the House on a largely party-line vote in March and ahead of a critical vote Tuesday in the Senate Rules and Administration Committee that could advance the legislation to the floor.”
Newsweek: “Trump’s Facebook Appeal Called Oath Keepers Parasites, Separated Them From ‘Genuine’ Supporters. By Jenni Fink. (May 5, 2021)
“In appealing for him to be allowed back on Facebook, former President Donald Trump’s team sought to distance the former president from the Capitol riot and separate his ‘genuine’’ supporters from members of the militia group, the Oath Keepers. Trump’s defenders referenced a federal complaint against the Oath Keepers in their appeal of Facebook’s decision but rejected there was a connection between Trump and the militia members.”
CBS News: “Major U.S. sports unions sign letter opposing voting rights changes in Georgia and other states.” By Caitlin O’Kane. (May 4, 2021)
“Major professional sports unions in the U.S. are taking a stand against restrictive voting rights bills proposed in several states, including Georgia, where a controversial bill passed in March. The Basketball Players Union, Major League Soccer Players Association, National Football League Players Association and United States Women’s National Team Players Association are among the nine unions that signed a letter Monday, condemning legislation ‘that if passed, could make it harder for ordinary citizens to cast their ballots in future election seasons.’”
KOLD News 13: “Arizona election workers are concerned over Maricopa County vote county.” By Bud Foster. (May 6, 2021)
“The Arizona Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, and former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods held a media briefing to once again warn of the dangers they see coming from the GOP recount of 2020 votes in Maricopa County. The Republican Party is recounting the 2.1 million votes that were cast in Maricopa County during the last election that President Joe Biden won. ‘They lost and they can’t get over it, they don’t want to get over it,’ Woods said. ‘Because they want to continue to sow doubt about the election, not just in Arizona but across the United States.’ The Republican Party, led by Senate President Karen Fann, has leased the Phoenix Memorial Stadium to host the recount, or audit as they call it.”
The Washington Post: “Arizona Republicans push back against Justice Department concerns, setting up possible clash over Maricopa County recount.” By Rosalind S. Helderman. (May 6, 2021)
“Arizona officials involved with a Republican-commissioned recount of the November presidential election in the state’s largest county on Thursday brushed off concerns raised by the Justice Department this week, raising the possibility of a clash between state and federal authorities over the audit. Pamela S. Karlan, who heads the Justice Department’s civil rights division, wrote a letter to the president of the Arizona state Senate on Wednesday suggesting that the recount of nearly 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County by a private contractor may not comply with federal law, which requires that ballots be securely maintained for 22 months following a federal election.”
The New York Times: “Florida and Texas Join the March as Republicans Press Voting Limits.” By Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein. (May 7, 2021)
“Florida and Texas are critical Republican-led battleground states with booming populations and 70 Electoral College votes between them. The new measures the legislatures are putting in place represent the apex of the current Republican effort to roll back access to voting across the country following the loss of the White House amid historic turnout in the 2020 election.”
Forbes: “Civil Rights Groups Sue Florida Moments After DeSantis Signs ‘Voter Suppression Bill’ Into Law.” By Alison Durkee. (May 6, 2021)
“Florida-based civil rights groups sued state and local election officials Thursday to block new restrictive voting measures immediately after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed them into law, arguing the new requirements will disenfranchise voters including voters of color, seniors and younger voters.”
Michigan Advance: “GOP pushes bills to restrict the use of ballot boxes on Election Day.” By Allison Donahue. (May 6, 2021)
“The state Senate Elections Committee took up a number of bills Wednesday centered around ballot drop boxes, including bills that would cut back the hours ballots can be dropped off on Election Day and require video surveillance of drop boxes. One of the most controversial bills on the table at Wednesday’s meeting was Senate Bill 286, introduced by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan). The bill initially proposed stopping voting through drop boxes at 5 p.m. on the day before Election Day. McBroomoffered a change to the bill that would extend the proposed deadline to 5 p.m. on Election Day.”
AP: “Ohio is the latest state to see GOP-backed voting law rewrite.” By Julie Carr Smyth. (May 6, 2021)
“Ohio became the latest state Thursday where Republicans are proposing a significant rewrite of state election laws, an effort that comes despite sweeping GOP victories in the state last year and a smooth election. Legislation introduced in the Ohio House calls for prohibiting placement of ballot drop boxes anywhere but at a local elections office, eliminating a day of early voting, shortening the window for requesting mail-in ballots and tightening voter ID requirements—all restrictions the House Democratic leader has criticized as ‘modern Jim Crow laws’ targeted at disenfranchising voters of color.”
The Guardian: “Texas lawmakers race against the clock to push through new voting restrictions.” By Alexandra Villarreal. (May 7, 2021)
“Texas lawmakers are locked in a fight over legislation that would further restrict voting access, as Republicans lean on procedural moves to avoid public testimony and keep eleventh-hour negotiations behind closed doors. The Texas House of Representatives on Thursday evening started debating Senate Bill 7 (SB7), which would make it more difficult to cast a ballot in a state already infamous for being the hardest place to vote nationwide. Democrats were raring for an all-night battle, armed with more than 100 amendments.”
ABC News: “Restrictive Texas voting bill advances to floor vote.” By Alisa Wiersema. (May 6, 2021)
“After weeks of debate and political maneuvering, the nation’s next showdown over state voting rights lands in Texas on Thursday, when the Republican-backed House Bill 6—which seeks to revise the state’s election laws—heads to a floor vote. As written, HB 6 states the path to ensuring ‘election integrity and security’ will come through ‘increasing criminal penalties’ and ‘creating criminal offenses,’ which Democrats and voting rights activists said amounts to voter suppression tactics that would disproportionately affect communities of color.”