This week marked the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma, when Black Americans and their businesses were the targets of domestic terrorism that led to the murder of countless Black residents. In a speech memorializing the victims of this racist attack, President Joe Biden called on fellow Americans to remember that “this was a massacre—among the worst in our history, but not the only one. And for too long, forgotten by our history.”
When it comes to ending systemic racism in this country, there is much work to be done, and that includes ensuring our democracy reflects the will of the people, not just the will of some. President Biden showed he understood this by making the fight to protect and expand the freedom to vote central to his remarks and a top priority for his administration. He announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will take on a voting rights portfolio to make sure access to the ballot box is protected at all levels of government, including securing the votes in Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
All of this is a reminder of both how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go. At the state level, there is progress to celebrate. In Nevada, Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 321 into law, making the Silver State the sixth to pass permanent mail-in voting. Vermont Governor Phil Scott is likely to sign a similar vote-by-mail expansion bill that would send general election ballots to all active voters in the state.
We are continuing to keep our eyes on SB 7 in Texas, following a dramatic end to the legislative session last week. The voter suppression and election interference bill is likely to be a priority in a yet-to-be-determined special session. In Arizona, the more information comes out about the companies involved in the so-called “audit” in Maricopa County, the more concerning the chaotic operation becomes. We are also monitoring Michigan and Pennsylvania as anti-voter and sham election review efforts are underway in both states.
Washington Post: “With voting rights role, Harris takes on weightiest challenge yet as vice president.” By Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Mike DeBonis, and Sean Sullivan. (June 2, 2021)
“According to an aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, Harris emerged from that meeting with a request for Biden: Let me spearhead the administration’s battle against Republican voting restrictions. Now nearly a month later, during an event marking the centennial of the Tulsa race massacre, Biden formally announced Harris’s new portfolio on voting rights—placing the vice president squarely in the middle of a pitched partisan battle being fought at multiple levels of government.”
New York Times: “As G.O.P. Blocks Inquiry, Questions on Jan. 6 Attack May Go Unanswered.” By Luke Broadwater. (May 29, 2021)
“After many of the national tragedies we’ve experienced over the last 50 or more years, the response was to have a bipartisan investigation that would lay out the facts in a way that would be definitive,” said Michael Chertoff, who served as homeland security secretary under President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. “It builds trust. It shows the public at a time of crisis, we can all come together and put the good of the country ahead of partisan interests.”
Business Insider: “House committee to hold a public hearing on the January 6 insurrection in the wake of a 4th inspector general flash report.” By Lauren Frias. (June 2, 2021).
“The House Administration Committee will hold another public hearing on the Capitol riot in the wake of a flash report by the inspector general, which the chairwoman said revealed ‘disturbing inadequacies’ in the Capitol Police’s preparation and response to the attack. House Administration Chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren announced Wednesday that the committee will host its fifth hearing on the events of January 6—more than any other congressional committee has held on the matter. The date of the hearing is yet to be set.”
NBC News: “New GOP voting laws target more than just voter access.” By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann, and Ben Kamisar. (June 3, 2021)
“Across the country, Republican-controlled state legislatures have done more than pass voting restrictions after losing the 2020 presidential contest. They’ve enacted or drafted provisions that create new election powers, change election administration and punish election officials who don’t perform their duties—which all have the potential of injecting chaos into the counting of the next presidential race. Here are just a few examples.”
NPR: “Experts Call It A ‘Clown Show’ But Arizona ‘Audit’ Is A Disinformation Blueprint.” By Miles Parks. (June 3, 2021)
“To Matt Masterson, the review of 2020 ballots from Maricopa County, Ariz., that’s currently underway is ‘performance art’ or ‘a clown show,’ and definitely ‘a waste of taxpayer money.’ But it’s not an audit. ‘It’s an audit in name only,’ says Masterson, a former Department of Homeland Security official who helped lead the federal government’s election security preparations leading up to November’s election. ‘It’s a threat to the overall confidence of democracy, all in pursuit of continuing a narrative that we know to be a lie.’”
KJZZ: “Pennsylvania Lawmakers Want To Import Arizona-Style Election Audit.” By Ben Giles. (June 2, 2021)
“Hobbs and election experts like Joanna Lydgate have been warning that the partisan Arizona audit could lead to similar efforts in other states. “Other states should be concerned about this circus coming to them,’ Lydgate said in May.”
Washington Post (opinion): “How to get to yes on voting rights reform.” By Jennifer Rubin. (June 3, 2021)
“If the Biden administration and Democrats are going to make good on their promise to use every tool to defend voting rights, they need a deliberate strategy for turning the tide in the Senate and a comprehensive litigation approach. So far, we have not seen either.”
Arizona Republic: “Who is looking at your ballot? These are the companies involved in the Arizona election recount.” By Ryan Randazzo, Jen Fifield, and Andrew Oxford. (June 3, 2021)
“Cyber Ninjas is not the only company involved in the effort, though. Here’s what we know about the companies that are reviewing or previously reviewed the 2020 election results in Maricopa County.”
Detroit News: “Michigan committee advances bills expanding voting ID requirements.” By Craig Mauger. (June 2, 2021).
“A Michigan committee gave its first approvals Wednesday to proposals in the controversial 39-bill Republican overhaul of the state’s election laws, setting up potential votes in the full Senate in the coming days.”
8 News: “Gov. Sisolak signs permanent mail-in voting system into law” By David Charns (June 2, 2021)
Permanent mail-in voting is now the law of the land in Nevada following Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s signature. The governor signed Assembly Bill 321 into law Wednesday, making Nevada the sixth state to have such a system.
The law requires a Nevada voter to opt-out rather than opt-in to receiving a mail-in ballot
Wall Street Journal: “Pennsylvania Republicans Call for Election Audit Similar to Arizona’s.” By Alexa Corse.” (June 2, 2021)
“Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers visited an ongoing Republican-ordered audit of 2020 ballots here Wednesday and called for their state to conduct a similar review, the latest sign that political fighting over last year’s election is far from over.”
Texas Tribune: “Texas’ GOP leadership already at odds over plans for special legislative session.” By Patrick Svitek and Cassandra Pollock. (June 3, 2021)
“Texas’ top Republican leaders are already on a collision course over a special legislative session. Since House Democrats staged a walkout that killed Republicans’ priority elections bill for the regular session, the governor and the leaders of the state House and Senate have diverged notably in interviews about how they are planning for the overtime round.”
Houston Chronicle: “Texas Democrats call on Congress to help fight voting restrictions.” By Benjamin Wermund and Taylor Goldenstein. (June 2, 2021)
“As Texas Democrats drew national attention over the weekend, dramatically killing a massive package of election measures that would have reduced access to the polls, they said they wanted to make a larger point about what they view as Republican efforts to suppress the minority vote.”
Wisconsin Public Radio: “Elections Commission Report: 13 Instances Of Possible Voter Fraud Referred To Prosecutors From November Election.” By Megan Hart. (June 2, 2021)
“Local clerks in Wisconsin referred 13 allegations of suspected voter fraud to district attorneys in relation to the November 2020 election, according to an annual report from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. That’s out of nearly 3.3 million votes cast in the election.Commissioners approved the document during a meeting Wednesday. State law requires WEC to compile an annual report on election integrity. The latest document includes a total of 41 suspected cases of voter fraud from incidents dating back to 2016.”
Follow the States United Democracy Center on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest democracy protection news!