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Money & Influence 12.1.2023

Houston Chronicle (Op-Ed): How billionaires use dark money to take aim at Texas schools

We are waiting to hear whether Gov. Greg Abbott will announce yet another special session focused on school vouchers. Are school vouchers an urgent priority that necessitates an extra session of the Legislature? Not according to state lawmakers. Just weeks ago, leaders in Austin had the opportunity to pass the governor’s voucher program, and on a bipartisan vote, they declined. If you follow the money, school vouchers are important to the governor’s main benefactors: billionaires Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks and a special interest group called “ALEC.” Our new report, “ALEC-tioneering: Unmasking Money in Texas Politics,” sheds light on how big monied special interests have influenced public policy outcomes in our state using an all too predictable rinse-and-repeat formula.

Media & Democracy 11.30.2023

CalMatters (Op-Ed): Californians want lawmakers to safeguard elections from artificial intelligence

Since 2020, voters in California and beyond have seen disinformation proliferate and poison our politics more than ever before. Generative artificial intelligence has the power to rapidly intensify this trend for the worse.

Los Angeles Times: L.A. will switch to independent redistricting if voters approve in 2024 election

“The city of Los Angeles is building on the best practices from around the state and the country and really, I think, setting a gold standard for everybody to be looking for,” said Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for the nonpartisan government accountability watchdog group Common Cause. Feng previously helped lead the effort to institute independent redistricting on the state level.

Voting & Elections 11.30.2023

Newsday: Suit aims to block touch screen voting machine

Led by Common Cause New York, the group contends the state Board of Elections erred in August when it certified for use the ExpressVote XL, a touch screen machine. The machine allows voters to mark a ballot electronically instead of on paper and ... displays selections on a summary card. Advocates said that's not enough to verify ballots independently, as required by state law. In their lawsuit, the advocates said: "As a voter cannot read a bar code, the voter's ballot is not certifiable. No voter can verify that the bar code accurately reflects the voter's selections shown on the summary card." The advocates want a court to reverse the certification, ... which would mean county boards of election couldn't purchase the ExpressVote XL. In New York, each county purchases its own voting machines, selecting from choices certified by the state.

Associated Press: Georgia Republicans move to cut losses as they propose majority-Black districts in special session

“This proposal does not do what it needs to do and it does not create additional representation for Black voters,” Aunna Dennis of Common Cause Georgia told the Senate committee.

Colorado Newsline: Former Republican secretary of state of Colorado argues Trump should be barred from ballot

Buchanan joined the advocacy group Colorado Common Cause in making that argument in a brief they submitted as part of a case over whether Trump should be disqualified under a Civil War-era provision of the 14th Amendment. “This country and its institutions are at a crossroads,” the brief says. “Either the plain mandates of our Constitution will be honored and enforced in the face of partisan outcry (thus preserving the rule of law in America) or they will be subverted to avoid that same partisan outcry (eroding the rule of law accordingly). There is no third future. It would be an error of historical scale to pretend otherwise.” Buchanan and Colorado Common Cause write in their brief that Wallace got her ruling right except for deciding Section 3 doesn’t apply to the presidency, a component they say is “reversible.” “(Trump) allowed a lust for power to supersede his own Oath of Office and over two centuries of American political precedent. Mr. Trump has sought at every turn to inject chaos into our country’s electoral system in the upcoming 2024 presidential election,” they write. “He should be given no opportunity to do so in the state of Colorado.”

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