Election Law Live

Obama Admin Makes Final Effort to Block IRS Target from Evidence Discovery

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – January 20, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement regarding the Obama Administration’s final attempt to hide information entitled to election integrity group True the Vote in its case against the Internal Revenue Service.

In the waning hours of the Obama Administration, the Public Interest Legal Foundation on behalf of client True the Vote filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to contest the federal government’s latest move that would force the election integrity group to continue the case without the opportunity to review IRS files that could be used as evidence.

“For the better part of a decade, the IRS has targeted True the Vote and others for unfair treatment, only to later blindfold them in court when they fight back,” PILF spokesman Logan Churchwell said. “As the Obama Administration heads for the exit, they are not only trying to block unhelpful evidence from being released, but are also protecting the IRS’ option to return to its discriminatory ways in the absence of court-mandated reforms.”

Below is a summary of observations made in the latest brief.

The IRS is trying to control the flow of information. The brief notes, “In essence, the Government wants to maintain a monopoly on the sources of proof, limiting the presentation of facts to only those facts which the Government chooses to disclose.”

The IRS is ignoring the appellate court’s ruling. TTV won its appeal, which reversed the dismissal of the case for the specific purpose of further discovery and review of the merits.

The IRS is ducking the court’s instructions to show that TTV will not be targeted again. The brief notes that the only evidence showing reforms have been made (a 2015 Treasury Inspector General report) does not specify protections for True the Vote.

The IRS’ own evidence notes ongoing deficiencies to prevent future targeting.

The IRS still maintains sensitive documents gathered from TTV which it shouldn’t have demanded in the first place.

The next oral argument to be heard in the D.C. District Court is scheduled for March 2, 2017. A copy of the brief has been made available, here.

For additional case documents, click here.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.



About That DHS Decision That Is ‘Not a Takeover’ of Elections

Public Interest Legal Foundation Communications Director Logan Churchwell writes about six issues all should be aware of with respect to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision to “designate” state election systems as “critical infrastructure”:

The Department of Homeland Security could not have picked a better succeeding week to perform a Friday news dump announcing its decision to designate state election systems as “critical infrastructure” like previously done for the nation’s transport, electrical, financial, and water systems. Though this largely predictable move has sparked concerns among state election officials and watchdogs with respect to federal over-reach, equal uneasiness has been expressed about the incredibly vague nature DHS has chosen to describe how it will intervene in Constitutionally-prescribed state matters.

Days ago, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced his department’s decision to designate America’s “polling places, vote tabulations locations, voter registration databases, voting machines” and other elements wholly maintained or overseen by local governments to now be subcategorized with other assets deemed worthy of Washington’s protection. Johnson couched the need to intervene on the basis of improving cybersecurity protections for state systems.

Hoping to minimize public concerns that Washington was over-stepping its bounds, Secretary Johnson noted, “This designation does not mean a federal takeover, regulation, oversight or intrusion concerning elections in this country.” (original emphasis) The outgoing secretary made a noticeably vague reference to the specter of alleged Russian attempts to hack and influence the 2016 Election by saying his decision is “simply the right and obvious thing to do.”

Given the relative unknowns that come with this decision, if left unchanged, there are six matters to be aware of in the coming months.

Read the full article, here.

Pasadena, TX Shows the Voting Rights Act Isn’t ‘Gutted’

According to local Houston AM radio station KTRH:

A federal judge has delivered a legal smackdown to a local community in a voter discrimination case. Judge Lee Rosenthal ruled this month that the city of Pasadena‘s voting system is discriminatory against Hispanics and not only tossed the system out, but ordered the city to get “pre-clearance” from the Department of Justice before making any future changes to its elections or voting systems. 

At issue is a change Pasadena implemented in 2013, in which the city replaced its eight individual voting districts with six larger districts and two at-large seats voted on by the entire city. A group of residents sued the city and the mayor. “They said, look, the city of Pasadena is trying to discriminate against Latino voters by creating these at-large districts, which dilute our voting power,” says Logan Churchwell with the Public Interest Legal Foundation. Judge Rosenthal agreed, writing “the City violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection by intentionally discriminating against Latinos and disproportionately diluting their voting power.”

PILF spokesman Logan Churchwell noted the decision further demonstrates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is still functioning after the landmark Shelby County v. Holder decision.

“Despite the rhetoric that (pre-clearance) can no longer occur because of the Supreme Court, that has proven not to be the case,” says Churchwell. “The Voting Rights Act is alive and well, and the city of Pasadena is living proof of that.”

Radio segment audio has been posted below.

‘Well Funded Group of Dishonest Brokers’: Pushing Back Against Attacks on Sessions’ Voter Fraud Prosecutions

PILF President J. Christian Adams joined Wisconsin-based radio host Vicki McKenna to discuss the bizarre line of attack against U.S. Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions for his record of prosecuting federal election crimes in the 1980s.

Public Interest Legal Lauds Iowa Voter ID Package

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – January 9, 2017: The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) today released a statement in support of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s proposed election integrity package.

“This opening proposal is a solid start toward protecting Iowans’ interests at the ballot box,” Public Interest Legal Foundation Research Director Logan Churchwell said. “Even the tightest fiscal conservative shouldn’t balk at the projected $1 million price tag. Des Moines should make this investment soon and reap the benefits of improved faith and voter participation. Cutting corners will only risk even greater expenses in the form of legal fees brought by parties acting to block these common-sense policies outright.”

The potential omnibus bill advertises a variety of reforms seen in other states and helps pioneer newer policies.

The voter identification requirement is a federal court-tested, popularly-approved measure in a growing number of states that should include Iowa. The free ID alternative is a critical component that has served other states well, similar to South Carolina’s law.

It is crucial that absentee voter ID be signed into law. Too few states have such measures on the books, which address one of the most common forms of voter fraud and ballot harvesting.

Standardized use of electronic poll books with proper training can do more to streamline the voting experience than may initially meet the eye. Having the ability to swipe ID cards during check-in will reduce line lengths and poll worker error that could have otherwise resulted in the submission of a provisional ballot.

Reforming deadlines for proxy voter registration and absentee ballots returns are necessary to prevent last-minute chaos for administrators before polls open on Election Day. Public servants need ample time to properly assist each prospective and distance voter without having to cut corners. Setting a 120 day absentee ballot request window will better serve voters both foreign and domestic.

Uniform certification of compliance with election law and alerting State officers of possible misconduct is a necessary procedure similar to a policy seen in Ohio. This effort could also bolster the public record to demonstrate a successfully-administered election and limit last minute gambits to trigger political recounts like witnessed in 2016.

The proposal is a critical reform package, but there is more work to be done in specific counties with respect to reducing outdated voter records. In 2015, PILF gave notice to two counties (Fremont and Lyons) for showing at least 101 percent voter registration rates.

“There are two sides to the election integrity equation,” Churchwell added. “Voter ID policies and the like a great, but careful voter roll maintenance must be occurring as well. Election administrators need to better live up to their end of the bargain.”

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.


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