“A Le Sueur couple who reportedly deceived elections judges about where they were living in order to cast ballots in March’s St. Peter School bond referendum are facing charges of voter fraud.”

“What this whole election contest has been about — doing the right thing”

In South Texas as elsewhere, voter fraud happens, and it changes the outcome of elections. In this city of Weslaco contest, an appeals court affirmed that voters deserve another chance to make a choice free of fraud that marred the original election:

The 13th Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a ruling voiding the November 2013 election, in which Commissioner Lupe Rivera was victorious over challenger Letty Lopez by just 16 votes, and calling for a new election...

Lopez contested the election due to what she and her attorney believed were the inclusion of votes cast illegally. Murray’s ruling required the city to hold another election after it was discovered that about 30 votes were indeed illegally cast…

At the center of the legal wrangling were [Texas Democratic Party chairman] Gilberto Hinojosa, who’s representing Rivera, and Lopez’s attorney, Jerad Najvar, long-contending the validity of the votes cast in said election… Specifically, Najvar questioned votes that were cast by people who claimed residency inside District 5, of which Commissioner Rivera serves, but didn’t actually live there. Najvar also claimed that mail-in ballots were cast with improper help.

San Antonio newspaper article that registration doesn’t always or rarely translate into votes.

Nearly 55,900 people cast ballots during early voting in Bexar County in this election — a healthy turnout compared to past mayoral races.  But if past history is a guide, roughly nine out of 10 registered voters still won’t be participating at all. The average turnout rate for city voters was slightly more than 10 percent in past mayoral races from 2003 to 2013 during early voting and on Election Day. The most robust turnout topped 16 percent — but that was a decade ago.

Link to Bangor Daily NewsThe path through which a bill becomes a law in Maine is unclear and confusing for anyone not involved in the legislative process on a daily basis. With Republicans in control in the Senate and Democrats with the majority in the House, the path to creating new laws is even more filled with thorns this year. 

True the Votes IRS Lawsuit Put on Hold (In a Good Way)

As anyone following the True the Vote v. IRS lawsuit knows, updates tend to be few and far between. Late last week, our dry spell was broken. On May 8 near close of business, TTV was notified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that our appeal was to “be held in abeyance pending further order of the court” as it resolves a similar case, Z Street v. Koskinen.

You may have read something about Z Street last week. Essentially, the pro-Israel group felt that its 501(c)(3) application was unfairly scrutinized and delayed during the IRS targeting period because their views differed greatly from the Obama Administration. The IRS tried to dismiss the case, arguing that the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) disallowed lawsuits “for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax.” The Court went with Z Street, however, agreeing that they were fighting over whether due process occurred – not if monies should change hands. The IRS appealed.

In late 2013, the IRS threw many of the same arguments against TTV’s claim, including the AIA strategy. The district court ruled to dismiss, primarily on the grounds that TTV’s claim had been mooted by the government’s eventual decision to grant our 501(c)(3) status. True the Vote appealed shortly thereafter.

Fast forward to last week. Z Street’s date for oral arguments at the Court of Appeals occurs and the DOJ makes a mess of it all, according to accounts in The Wall Street Journal. Among the highlights was a statement from [Clinton appointee] Judge Garland, who told government lawyers that every issue raised by the DOJ had already been “rejected.” He further stated, “in a way we have already decided every issue before us today, against you.” Ouch. Judge Garland was not done yet: “If I were you, I would go back and ask your superiors whether they want us to represent that the government’s position in this case is that the government is free to unconstitutionally discriminate against its citizens for 270 days.” Double ouch.

So how does all of this affect True the Vote? Since there is a high likelihood that the government will reinforce its AIA strategy on appeal with TTV, for the sake of consistency the Court affirmatively decided to hold our case until it gets the bugs worked out on the Z Street side. A conservative estimate for the length of time that we might be in a holding pattern is a couple of months. Stay tuned with TTV as we continue down the IRS rabbit hole.

 

Check Out the May 2015 National Conference Call Replay

The May conference call covered a lot of ground surrounding the various policy proposals, executive actions and lawsuits as they impact the risk of noncitizen voting across the nation. Anyone may access an audio file to replay the call in its entirety by clicking here

 

A Poison Pill for Election Integrity: North Carolina Edition

The use of jury wheel information has long provided a strong starting point for noncitizen voter research in various states. Put plainly, having a copy of someone’s document swearing noncitizenship to dodge jury duty, while finding they affirmed the opposite to become a registered voter, makes for pretty compelling evidence when submitting a challenge. This methodology rightly inspires a sentinel effect that our core civic institutions – held up mostly on the honor system – are being fortified by engaged citizens.

This year, states around the nation are looking to make it easier for citizens to access jury information as a matter of public record. North Carolina was off to a great start in February with HB 100, which would have made said documents a public record with exceptions for medical or other previously protected reasons. In late April, an amendment to effectively reverse the purpose of the bill was put forward and passed out of the NC House. Our eagle-eyed friends at VIP-NC are now putting pressure on members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary II to bring the bill back to its original purpose. Noncitizen votes impact us all. Lend your voice to correct this bill by contacting Committee members today.

 

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The Legislative Working Groups Drawing Board

Email us if there is election reform legislation on the move in your state that you’d like to see passed/defeated.

Florida

HB 1011 / SB 1360 -- Defines "address of legal residence"; requires voter registration application to include applicant's address of legal residence; provides that list of valid addresses maintained by supervisor of elections must include certain additional distinguishing information. The bill needs the support of Floridians to see it through to adoption.

Iowa

HF506 -- A bill relating to deadlines for receiving absentee ballots. Currently, absentee ballots can be counted if they are:  a) received before the polls close on Election Day or b) postmarked before the Election Day and are received by noon of the Monday following the election. This bill would change the deadlines such that an absentee ballot must be received before the polls close on Election Day, except for an absentee ballot completed by a military or overseas voter. In that case, it must be received by noon of the day before the votes are canvassed. This bill was passed by the House. The Senate has amended this bill closer to the original deadlines and placed it on the calendar for unfinished business, which means it can still be considered by the Senate this session. 

Missouri

HB 30 -- Would require a government-issued photo ID. Provisions are made if an individual is unable to obtain the necessary documentation to obtain such an ID. The bill has been voted on by the House and is now going through the process in the Senate. If approved by the Senate, voters must approve the bill as an amendment to the Missouri Constitution.

HB 67 -- Allows military personnel or other government workers returning from overseas to register to vote until 5pm on the Friday prior to an election, provided he or she can show sufficient documentation showing eligibility to qualify for late registration. The bill is awaiting a vote of the full House.

HB 339 -- Would remove a copy of a current utility bill or bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter from the list of acceptable forms of identification to allow a qualified voter to vote. The bill has been referred to the full House for passage.

HB 1016 -- Would allow poll challengers/watchers to remain inside the polling station past the closing of the polls and until all counting, verification, breakdown and delivery of the voting material to the designated collection points or the election authority is completed. This bill has now been reported do pass.

Nevada

AB 209 – Requires county and city clerks to establish and maintain audit trails for each process involved in the conduct of an election.

AB 177 – Relates to candidate eligibility, residency requirements and other matters.

Texas

HB 621 – Relates to the termination of a volunteer deputy voter registrar’s appointment. Under the bill, county election officials would be empowered to revoke deputy status should they engage in any activity considered to be a violation of duties. The bill has been passed by the House and was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

SB 796 -- Relating to the use of information from the lists of noncitizens excused or disqualified from jury service. The bill would make records of individuals claiming non-citizenship as justification to be excused from jury duty a matter of public record – significantly easing the process for concerned citizens to assist in voter roll cleanup. Contact members of the Senate Committee on State Affairs to share your SUPPORT for this bill.

HB 891 – This bill was placed on the General State Calendar on May 12. Relating to establishing an interstate voter registration crosscheck program.

More proof that the EAC needs to defer to states who have citizenship qualifications. PJ:

Last week, the Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals upheld a decision to deport Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick for voting in a federal election. Fitzpatrick registered to vote in Illinois using the federal “Motor Voter” registration form.

Fitzpatrick’s criminal act is one more example demonstrating that non-citizens voting in American elections is not a myth. The opinion by the Board of Immigration appeals stated:

On August 5, 2005, she applied for an Illinois driver’s license and signed a voter registration application in which she checked a box indicating that she was a United States citizen.

Fitzpatrick was caught by pure accident. When she submitted her application for naturalization in 2007, she indicated on the form that she had registered to vote and had voted in a U.S. election. DHS opened an investigation proceeding based only upon her voluntary red flag. (By law, voting by a noncitizen is a deportable offense, and there is no intent requirement: it doesn’t matter whether the person knew what they were doing was illegal.) Of course, most illegal foreign voters never admit that they have voted. Fitzpatrick would otherwise have never been caught, and she was only caught several years after her illegal vote was counted as legal.

A partisan bill passes the Minnesota Senate but faces opposition in the Minnesota House.

Link to story.

The Texas Senate has voted to add a provision to the Photo ID law that allows Texans to go to county clerk offices and obtain a free birth certificate if needed for the purpose of obtaining a ID certificate for voting.

Link to the story.

Reporting on local elections in Texas.  The Dallas County elections chief said voting in today’s local election is going smoothly so far. Some polling stations have had to rearrange their voting booths — the paper ballots don’t fare well in moisture — but the impact so far has been minimal, said Toni Pippins-Poole, the county elections administrator.  “Everything seems to be going fine,” she said. “No other issues.”   Link to story in Dallas Morning News Scoopblog.

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