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Voting Rights: GOPers Struggle To Pass Anti-Voting Rights Bills In Texas And Missouri

May 20, 2019 12:24 p.m.

Missouri’s effort to gut the anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative voters recently approved flamed out, thanks to an unforced procedural error last week. That doesn’t mean that Missouri Republicans won’t try again next year. But this year’s legislative session ended without the GOP being able to get on the 2020 ballot a measure that would have reversed or undermined key redistricting provisions in the 2018 so-called Clean Missouri ballot initiative. They failed, in part, because not enough Republicans showed up to a committee vote to advance the House-passed measure to the Senate floor.

It is also looking unlikely that Texas GOP legislators will be able to pass their marquee anti-voting rights legislation, which critics said was designed to suppress voter turnout. The controversial bill would make certain election code violations — even if done unknowingly — crimes punishable with jail time and also put new paperwork requirements on those who assist voters with physical impairments that prevent them from entering polling places. While it looked ready to advance last week, on Sunday night a House committee opted against scheduling it for debate on the chamber floor this week, the last week the legislature is in session. There is a chance Republicans will attempt to tack on individual provisions to legislation already scheduled to be debated, but that will be an uphill battle

And the fallout continues from Texas’ attempt — now withdrawn — to encourage local counties to purge their voter rolls based on a methodologically flawed list of alleged noncitizen voters. It was revealed Wednesday that Texas used federal funding from the the Help America Vote Act to assemble the list — a move that was not technically illegal, but, in spirit, counter to the goals of HAVA, which is geared towards security upgrades for voting equipment. Texas was sued over the list, and in a settlement last month, agreed to significantly narrow its approach to IDing alleged noncitizen voters and to withdraw the original list, which claimed that there were nearly 100,000 alleged noncitizens on the rolls.

Texas is also continuing to resist the U.S. House Oversight Committee’s request for documents pertaining to how the list came to be. The Texas AG’s office sent Oversight Dems a troll-y letter — which included an overhyped claim that the AG’s office had prosecuted 33 defendants for voter fraud last year — declining to turn over most of the documents the committee requested.

The FBI has managed to unite Democrats and Republicans on a Russia-probe related issue by being extremely cagey about Russia’s intrusions into the voter data systems in two Florida counties. The FBI, in a classified briefing on Thursday, told Florida’s House delegation which two counties the Russians had successfully intruded upon, but barred the lawmakers from relaying that information to the public. The FBI also refused to identify for lawmakers the Florida counties whose networks were unsuccessfully targeted by Russian hackers in 2016. The lawmakers are now calling upon the FBI to change the internal policies that are preventing it from being more transparent, and are floating the possibility of using legislation to require the FBI to do so if it doesn’t overhaul the regulations in question on its own.

Lastly: Don’t miss the round-up I did last week on what are already shaping up to be the biggest obstacles between voters and the ballot box in 2020.

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