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Voting & Elections 08.30.2023

New York Times: Republicans Target Wisconsin’s Election Chief for Removal, Fueled by Falsehoods

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, a government watchdog group, said Ms. Wolfe’s removal would be a major blow to the state, which is likely to once again be a crucial battleground for the presidential race. “The vast majority of Wisconsin’s voters and citizens can and will lose confidence and trust in our elections,” he said.

Money & Influence 08.29.2023

San Jose Mercury News: Thought San Jose’s 2022 mayor’s race was expensive? Experts say brace yourself.

Sean McMorris, a member of government transparency nonprofit California Common Cause, said he’s unsure whether the city needs to eliminate the cap at all. “I know that San Jose is being proactive, but it is not clear to me that the SCOTUS ruling, which pertained to federal campaign finance law and post-election fundraising, would necessarily apply to all local campaign finance laws pertaining to candidate loans or that a city cannot narrowly tailor such a law to avoid running afoul of the SCOTUS ruling,” he wrote in an emailed statement.

Voting & Elections 08.29.2023

Houston Public Media: Texas prepares to leave multistate compact to clean its voter rolls, without an alternative

All of this is a concern for voting rights groups. Katya Ehresman, voting rights program manager for Common Cause Texas, said its been just four years since the state attempted to purge tens of thousands of people incorrectly identified as noncitizens from the state's voter rolls. The furor over that effort helped to sink Acting Secretary of State David Whitley's bid for confirmation in the post. Ehresman noted that Keith Ingram, who served as elections director under Whitley, was appointed by current Secretary of State Jane Nelson to head the effort to come up with Texas' replacement for ERIC. "I think that’s something that we’re concerned about, is if these lists matching and list maintenance systems are within that same office, that Texas voters should be paying attention and watchdog organizations like ours are going to be paying attention," Ehresman said. Alicia Pierce said voters should not be overly concerned about being removed from the rolls. "They’re not simply removed," Pierce said. "They receive a notice, and then there’s a waiting period before they are removed. And also, under the National Voting Rights Act, there is a window before federal elections, which is 90 days, when people will not be removed through these wholesale actions, where we’re doing large-scale list maintenance. So those are some things that can help reassure people that they’re not going to be removed in an untimely manner." Still, Katya Ehresman said that voters should doublecheck their voting status well in advance of the October deadline for this fall's elections and the February deadline for the 2024 primaries, in order to make sure they're registered at their current address. "I think that Texas leaving ERIC adds a heightened level of vigilance that is needed on the back of everyday voters, which should not be required to participate in their elections but might need to be now," Ehresman said.

Voting & Elections 08.28.2023

Boston Globe: Carlson’s early exit renews calls for limiting early voting or using ranked-choice voting

But John M. Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, called the GOP statement “a knee-jerk reaction to what is a fairly common occurrence in elections all across the country.” “This is not the first time a candidate has withdrawn from a race but remained on the ballot, and it won’t be the last time,” he said. “Restricting a popular and secure way for voters to vote is not the right reaction.” In offering 20 days of early voting, Rhode Island is matching the national average in the 47 states that offer early voting, Marion said. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the three states that don’t offer early in-person voting are Alabama, Mississippi and New Hampshire, and Marion said Alabama and Mississippi “are two states not exactly known for protecting voting rights”

Wisconsin Law Journal: Protasiewicz prohibited from hearing abortion, gerrymandering cases if impeachment commences

Jay Heck, director of Common Cause, told the Wisconsin Law Journal he believes Vos’ threat of impeachment is hypocritical. “It’s such self-serving hypocrisy with Vos. Where was Vos in 2012 when conservatives all voted to dismiss illegal coordination with Walker and Club For Growth? It has been well documented that Walker engaged in coordination to raise money for his recall election, which was illegal. Candidates cannot coordinate with outside special interests, and the Legislature changed that in 2015, but I didn’t hear Vos, or conservative justices who received funding from Club for Growth, to recuse,” Heck said during an interview with the Wisconsin Law Journal. “It’s selective outrage,” Heck said, noting that Common Cause also held former Democrat Jim Doyle accountable for actions taken during his administration.

Voting & Elections 08.28.2023

Public News Service: Feds Consider Whether to Allow Betting on Election Outcomes

Stephen Spaulding, vice president of policy for the nonprofit Common Cause, said gambling on elections is bad for democracy. "You can imagine wealthy gamblers could make significant money by exploiting disinformation to influence an electoral outcome that would protect the bettors' bottom line," Spaulding pointed out. "This again opens up a significant risk to the perception that the winners and losers of an election are not determined by voters, but by those who stand to gain financially." Spaulding noted the "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision allowed companies to spend unlimited money on elections, and called betting on elections a "profound threat to democracy." "You can imagine a situation where an entity places an enormous wager on the outcome of an election, and also funnels resources through Super PACs or other 'dark money' vehicles to influence the outcome of an election," Spaulding explained. "That is inherently, we think, anti-democratic." Both Common Cause and some U.S. senators, including California's Dianne Feinstein, submitted letters of opposition during the public comment period, which ended in July. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is expected to make a decision by Sept. 21.

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