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Voting & Elections 07.22.2022

VoteBeat/Texas Tribune: Right-wing group is quietly conducting review of 300,000 Tarrant County ballots from 2020 primary

Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, a government watchdog group, said a ballot review such as the one in Tarrant County “elevates the narrative that election administrators are somehow not doing their jobs properly or even worse trying to sway elections.” “It’s a really dangerous lie that is being sold to a lot of people and frankly, it’s putting election administrators in a lot of danger,” Gutierrez said. “It all stems from this lie of elections about our elections not being safe.”

The Guardian: Republicans keep gerrymandered maps – after they were struck down by court

When I called up Catherine Turcer on Tuesday, she mentioned that her daughter had just sent her a text message saying it must feel like she’s living the same day over and over again. Turcer is the executive director of the Ohio chapter of Common Cause, a government watchdog group, and one of the most knowledgeable people about redistricting in her state. Earlier that morning, the Ohio supreme court struck down the map for the state’s 15 congressional districts, saying they were so distorted in favor of Republicans that they violated the state constitution. It was the seventh time this year the court has struck down either a congressional or state legislative map this year (it has struck down the congressional map twice and state legislative districts five times). Turcer and I have spoken several times over the last few months as the saga in Ohio has unfolded, and she is not someone who sugar coats things. I’ve been interested in her perspective as someone who was initially optimistic about the reforms – she fought to pass them – but has seen the reality of how Republicans have brazenly ignored them this year. “It’s incredibly painful to participate in elections that you know are rigged,” she told me. “I’ve been encouraging folks to look at the upcoming elections as important to participate because if we do just opt out, we would have even worse representation.”

Media & Democracy 07.20.2022

Newsy (VIDEO): Experts: Social Platforms Are Unprepared For Election Misinformation

Yosef Getachew, media and democracy program director at Common Cause, helped author a letter from more than 120 civil society groups to seven major social media companies, noting that "disinformation related to the 2020 election has not gone away but has continued to proliferate." The letter’s demands included consistent enforcement of civic integrity policies during both election and non-election cycles and the prioritization of enforcement around combatting what they call the big lie that says Trump won the 2020 election. "A lot of the disinformation that we're seeing now is really recycled content from the Big Lie, but it's packaged in new ways that is getting more and more attention," Getachew said. "When we're talking about the 2022 election cycle, we're seeing a lot of candidates now preemptively declare voter fraud, and this is based primarily off the Big Lie. A lot of candidates are using the Big Lie as a platform plank."

Media & Democracy 07.19.2022

Broadcasting & Cable: Bipartisan Privacy Bill Would Limit Targeted Advertising

“We are glad to see that the American Data Privacy and Protection Act is going to a full committee markup, and that Republican and Democratic leadership on the House Energy & Commerce Committee has come together on a comprehensive privacy proposal to protect our data online," Common Cause media and democracy program director Yosef Getachew said. Watchdog group Common Cause is particularly heartened by the inclusion of civil-rights protections, given that privacy and data abuses have hit minority communities particularly hard, the organization said.

Indianapolis Star: Secretary of State candidate Diego Morales used campaign funds for $43,000 car

Julia Vaughn, executive director of Common Cause Indiana, a government accountability group, said it's "unusual" for a candidate to spend that much money on a new vehicle. "Certainly a state wide candidate, we've seen them use campaign money to support transportation costs, but typically it's a more measured approach — they lease a vehicle, enter into some sort of long term rental," Vaughn told IndyStar. "To buy a vehicle for $43,000 in June when you know you won't be using it for campaign purposes after the first Tuesday in November, is a very curious decision to make." Vaughn added that it "looks like this vehicle could turn into a personal vehicle," but according to Morales' campaign, he plans to sell the car after the election, reverting those funds back to the campaign fund.

San Diego Union-Tribune: An upcoming Supreme Court case is concerning to voting rights advocates

Dan Vicuña is the national redistricting manager at Common Cause, a national organization focused on expansive voting rights and government accountability. Derek Muller is the Bouma Fellow of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law, where he teaches on topics related to election law and federal courts. They took some time to talk about the concerns around cases like “Moore v. Harper,” whether the 1965 Voting Rights Act offers sufficient protections to these efforts to concentrate elections power among legislators, and the harm caused by gerrymandering.

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