Supreme Court Watching: 2015 Edition
It’s that time of year again. Scores of hugely impactful Supreme Court decisions are coming due within the week and many promise to break the Internet and clog your social media feeds with flaming debates. As you may recall, True the Vote’s research -- which uncovered individuals professing to be noncitizens who were registered voters nonetheless -- was highlighted in a petition seeking a hearing that remains before the Court. Kobach v. Election Assistance Commission is currently slated for a petitions conference on June 25. The case could allow specific states to require citizenship verification as part of the voter registration process. TTV will keep you posted on SCOTUS’ decision when it is handed down.
A Red Flag for Automatic Voter Registration Activists
Like clockwork after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s full-throated support was offered for the proposal, more than 60 U.S. House Democrats filed the Automatic Voter Registration Act (HR 2694). But before proponents of the bill can begin to browbeat others with rhetoric like “what part of more democracy scares you?”, some very real technical challenges must be addressed. Never mind the fact that federal bureaucrats have not been able to dodge hacking attacks lately. HR 2694 would mandate large-scale data sharing between state driver licensing agencies and election administrators to find individuals not existing in both databases for voter registration.
Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.
Like “going to war with the army you have,” automatic voter registration uses the data states currently possess, not necessarily what Clinton and Co. may intend. Example: if Agency A is not required to verify citizenship during its normal course of service, under the current federal proposal how can it ensure that it is not forwarding noncitizen records to Agency B?
For a very real example, we look to Texas this week. The Texas Tribune offers an alarming report on the reliability of data held by the Department of Public Safety (the Lone Star State’s driver licensing agency). The headline says it all: “Driver’s License Addresses No Longer Help Police.” Due to an increasingly mobile population, address records are proving to be largely outdated or inaccurate entirely when a cop needs to find someone. A growing concern of law enforcement is the use of rented mailboxes claimed as residential addresses for licensing. For a bureaucrat data manager tasked with the responsibility of transferring data to another department or agency, a rented box may look no different than an apartment address (especially when handling thousands of records at a time).
If you ever need an example of how activists who oppose the core values of the election integrity movement willfully enshrine vulnerabilities in our voting systems, look no further.
Taking the Election Integrity Fight to Academia
True the Vote attorney J. Christian Adams is right – academic forums may not the best method of getting the word out on the issues, but we must engage all the same. This week, Adams’ piece “Transformation: Turning Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act into Something It Is Not” was published in the Touro Law Review. The article discusses how recent voter ID and other election integrity reform lawsuits are working to twist portions of the VRA into offensive weapons against politically-opposed policies. “If the plaintiffs are ultimately successful, the constitutional balance between states and the federal government that the Supreme Court sought to restore in Shelby County will be undone, and every state will risk violating the Voting Rights Act if any change to an election law has any statistical impact on a racial minority group. Instead, courts reviewing Section 2 cases should utilize longstanding jurisprudence requiring much more than statistical disparities in analyzing election laws for compliance with the Voting Rights Act and ask whether an equal opportunity to participate and comply with the law exists.” Read the full article here.