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Voting & Elections 02.18.2021

The Independent: Republicans are working ‘to rig every election from 2022 onwards’. If Democrats don’t pay attention, it’ll happen

According to Common Cause Senior Counsel Stephen Spaulding, the implications of not getting H.R. 1 passed could be extremely serious. Spaulding, who helped write H.R. 1 while serving as Senior Elections Counsel to the Committee on House Administration, warned that the damage Republicans could inflict on democracy in the absence of federal action could be irreparable. “For democracy in general, the danger of not taking action is potentially catastrophic, given the precision and targeting and manipulation of the rules that some state legislators are doing to make it harder to vote,” he said. Spaulding explained that Republican efforts to restrict voting took off after the Supreme Court’s decision inShelby County v. Holder, which invalidated the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s requirement for states with a history of racial discrimination to submit changes in voting rules to the Justice Department for pre-clearance. But he added that establishing uniform standards for voting across all 50 states would not have a partisan tilt one way or another. Until Trump started attacking the validity of postal ballots, Republicans had made use of them in greater numbers than Democrats in many key states. “Ever since then, we know that there are elected officials at the state level who have been working tooth and nail to make it harder to vote, so this is an opportunity to really level the playing field,” he said. “I think these are basic, common-sense solutions to make voting more convenient no matter what party you’re in…. We just had the most the highest turnout election… in the middle of a global pandemic, and that’s because people took steps across the country to make voting more convenient. Now we need to lock those in.”

Reuters: How the battle over redistricting in 2021 could decide control of the U.S. Congress

“Up until recently, redistricting has been obscure, but also obscured – intentionally so,” said Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for the good government group Common Cause. “That curtain is coming down.”

New York Times: Pennsylvania G.O.P.’s Push for More Power Over Judiciary Raises Alarms

“We are in the last legislative session of this,” said Alexa Grant, a program advocate with Common Cause. “So we are the last line of defense.”

CNN The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (VIDEO): Trump Facing Legal Trouble Despite Senate Acquittal

Stephen Spaulding, Common Cause: "It is a crime to incite rebellion. And that is a statute that I hope investigators, federal investigators, the District of Columbia, and others will investigate and unspool whether, in fact, he meets that standard."

NPR (AUDIO): 6-Month Delay In Census Redistricting Data Could Throw Elections Into Chaos

There's a tension between the bureau having enough time to produce accurate information and states and localities having to meet redistricting deadlines. And that could create ideal conditions for gerrymandering, says Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for Common Cause, a government watchdog group. "There is a quiet conversation going on in legislatures right now about whether the delay actually might be a helpful game changer to allow them to pass midnight bills and do the dirty work outside of the scrutiny of the public," Feng says.  "We are heading into a redistricting cycle where it will be a bare-knuckle battle for control," Feng says. "Those who are in power are going to use every tool in the toolbox to try to eke out a win. And if that means passing gerrymandered maps in the dead of night, they're going to do it."

New York Times: A New Delay for Census Numbers Could Scramble Congressional Elections

“The concern in some of those states is that the legislators will simply use a special session to secretly pass maps with zero public scrutiny, and then count on a tight timetable to eke out at least one election cycle” before a court could require new maps to be drawn, said Kathay Feng, the redistricting and representation director at Common Cause.

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