The Cynicism of Georgia’s Stacey Abrams

Ms. Abrams has claimed that Mr. Kemp unlawfully purged 1.5 million voters from the rolls, put 53,000 new registrations on hold, created long polling lines on Election Day, and misplaced provisional ballots. She says her “accusations are based entirely on evidence.” Let’s take a look.

.. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President Clinton, requires states to keep voter lists “accurate and current” by identifying persons who died or moved, using “uniform, nondiscriminatory” procedures.
.. Georgia’s law to comply with the federal act is similar to Ohio’s, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this year. It works like this: If the U.S. Postal Service’s change-of-address list shows a Georgia voter has moved or is no longer at his address of record, the state sends him a postage-paid confirmation reply card. It there’s no response for 30 days, the voter is considered “inactive,” but can still vote if he wants.
.. Then there’s the charge of holding up registration applications. This involves the state’s “exact match” law, which requires the last name, first initial, date of birth and other simple information on voter-registration applications match the information in the Social Security database or the Georgia driver’s-license file. If they don’t match, the prospective voter is notified online and by mail, and given 26 months to correct any discrepancy.
.. Meanwhile, he can vote by presenting a valid ID that is “a substantial match” with his application. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a similar law in Florida.
.. Ms. Abrams herself may be responsible for many of the botched voter applications. Before running for governor, she led a $12.5 million registration drive that paid her $442,000 over three years for serving as its part-time leader. Despite ample resources, Ms. Abrams’s efforts relied on paper forms, not online registration or electronic forms. As a result, many applications contained mistakes or fraudulent signatures.
.. Ms. Abrams’s complaints about long lines at polling places and mishandled provisional ballots are also misplaced. County election boards, not the secretary of state, decide on poll closures, set the number of voting machines, and handle provisional ballots. These local officials are in many cases Democrats, and Ms. Abrams carried the three Atlanta-area counties—Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb—with the most closures, the largest numbers of machines withdrawn from service, and the bulk of provisional-ballot problems.
.. As a rising star on the Democratic left, Ms. Abrams drew millions in donations from the Soros family and billionaire hedge-funder Tom Steyer, as well as campaign appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama and many of the party’s 2020 presidential hopefuls. She lost anyway.
.. Ms. Abrams now cynically claims she’s a victim of election fraud motivated by bigotry. Even in this ugly period of American politics, trying to use defeat in a close election to create racial resentment stands out as dangerous and corrosive. Ms. Abrams’s suit, Fair Fight Action v. Crittenden, is unlikely to have a happy ending. And damaging the state’s reputation won’t help her win future races, no matter how much she says she loves Georgia and wants to serve it. Sometimes you should exit gracefully.

Trump Gets It All Wrong

Beware of busloads of voters with phony mustaches.

Midterm election update from the Department of Irony:

Republicans have been warning us about the danger of voter fraud for ages. And now it does appear that a major congressional race was impacted by that very type of evil-doing.

The fictional version of voter fraud involves sinister characters — possibly illegal immigrants! — showing up at the polls repeatedly, perhaps disguising their nefarious intent by wearing different hats or an occasional false mustache.

In many places, like California, the same person votes many times … Millions and millions of people,” said Donald Trump. He’s been running on this theme since he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. We will not even bother to envision what Election Day would look like if millions and millions of extra voters were standing in line.

There’s also Trump’s more recent argument that voters should have to have special IDs because “if you go out and you want to buy groceries you need a picture on a card. You need an ID.”

.. “We don’t see voter impersonation fraud anywhere in the country because it would be such a dumb way to steal an election,” said Richard Hasen, the author of “The Voting Wars.” When he was researching his book, Hasen said, he looked for a good example of multiple-voting and never found one.

.. Really, candidates of the future, if you want to steal an election just find ways to keep the other side from participating. You could try tweeting threats. (“Cheat at your own peril.”) Or simply using the whole voter fraud issue to make it more difficult for people to register, and more self-conscious about how they’ll be treated if they show up at the polls.

.. It involved a couple of counties with large African-American and rural populations, and the victim was the Democrat. Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate, is the party’s new dream red-district combo: Ivy League college graduate/Marine, who found faith while fighting in Iraq and was baptized in water from the Euphrates River. People thought he had a chance, and on election night things were close, very close. But the Republican candidate, Mark Harris, a conservative former pastor, seemed to be about 900 votes ahead. McCready conceded.
.. Then — whoops — it appeared those counties had been the site of some extensive “ballot harvesting.” This happens when supporters of one candidate go out and encourage people to request absentee ballots, which they then reap like so many rows of soybeans. Sometimes they help a voter fill out a ballot. Sometimes, if a voter doesn’t seem to be following the preferred line, they lose said ballot on the way to the mailbox.

.. free to notice that Trump has never bothered to mention any concern about absentee ballots. “It’s the absentee ballots that are most ripe for fraud,” said Roberts. “People have been saying that for years.”

Meanwhile in North Carolina, the Republican State Legislature is hard at work on a constitutional amendment to require voter IDs.

Republican Efforts to End Democracy

This group will not willingly cede its power.

“After hours of mysterious closed-door meetings that went past midnight, the Wisconsin Senate convened at 4:30 on Wednesday morning and passed by one vote a package of bills devised to curb the powers of the incoming Democratic leaders.”

.. “In Michigan, where Democrats last month won the governor’s mansion as well as the races for attorney general and secretary of state, Republican lawmakers last week introduced measures that would water down the authority of those positions on campaign finance oversight and other legal matters.”

.. Altering the structure of power in a state to limit the influence of an incoming executive of an opposing party wasn’t something I thought I’d ever see in America, but unfortunately this isn’t even the first time we’ve seen it. This is not the first time Republicans have done it.

.. In 2016, Republicans in the North Carolina legislature also pushed through legislation designed to limit the power of an incoming Democratic governor. Kevin Drum wrote a fascinating column about this in Mother Jones titled “Republicans Are No Longer Committed to That Whole Peaceful Transfer of Power Thing.”

.. Republican anti-democratic tendencies aren’t limited to the transfer of power. They extend to areas like the widespread efforts to enact voter suppression, from voter ID laws to voter roll purges to shortening early-voting windows to gerrymandering.

..  a report this year by the Brennan Center for Justice found that voter purging was on the rise:

We found that between 2014 and 2016, states removed almost 16 million voters from the rolls, and every state in the country can and should do more to protect voters from improper purges. Almost 4 million more names were purged from the rolls between 2014 and 2016 than between 2006 and 2008. This growth in the number of removed voters represented an increase of 33 percent — far outstripping growth in both total registered voters (18 percent) and total population (6 percent).

In some cases it is clear that minority voters are disproportionately affected by the purges. One reason is the method used. The report found that 28 states now submit data to the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, the purpose of which “is to identify possible ‘double voters’ — an imprecise term that could be used to refer to people who have registrations in two states or who actually voted in an election in multiple states.”

.. But many people have the same name, which poses a problem for the database. That problem is heightened for minority voters because, as the report says, “African-American, Asian-American, and Latino voters are much more likely than Caucasians to have one of the most common 100 last names in the United States.”

As for gerrymandering, it is “the biggest obstacle to genuine democracy in the United States,” according to Brian Klaasa political scientist at University College London.

.. eight of the ten most gerrymandered districts in the United States were drawn by Republicans.”

..Even our current immigration debate is far more about future voters than about safety or criminals or the other canards Republicans typically use to oppose it.

.. “among all Latino immigrants who are eligible to vote (i.e. are U.S. citizens) many more identify as Democrats than as Republicans — 54 percent versus 11 percent.”

That is why immigration is such a burning issue on the right and why Donald Trump is able to exploit it: Immigration, both legal and illegal, represents a loss of political power for Republicans.

.. Republican power is increasingly synonymous with white power. The party’s nationalist tendencies are increasingly synonymous with white nationalism.

.. This group will not willingly cede its power just because demographics predict its downfall and current circumstances demonstrate its weaknesses.

If the Republican Party can’t maintain power in the democracy we have, it will destroy that democracy so that its power can be entrenched by limiting the impact of the vote.

Meet Jerry Nadler, the Next House Judiciary Chairman and Trump’s New Enemy No. 1

New York Democrat may not impeach president, but his rigorous oversight will be a thorn in his side

Jerrold Nadler remembers when he began to figure out that you’ve got to fight back when life seems unfair.

It was 1957. Nadler was 10. He was at home in Brooklyn watching Disney’s film production of the 1943 novel “Johnny Tremain,” a young apprentice of silversmith Paul Revere on the eve of the American Revolution.

In the movie’s climatic scene, colonial lawyer James Otis delivers a rallying speech to revolutionaries in a cramped wooden attic in Boston.

Otis was the colonial lawyer whose five-hour speech in 1761 decrying British “writs of assistance” would later become the foundation of the Fourth Amendment protecting Americans from unreasonable search and seizure.

At the end of his winding speech, the fictionalized Otis scans the room and leaves his comrades with a parting message: “We fight and die for a simple thing — only that a man can stand.”

“I still remember watching it,” said Nadler, whom aides and confidants claim has a photographic memory.

.. First elected to Congress in 1992, Nadler is poised to become the next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in January after the Democrat-controlled 116th Congress is sworn in.

Immigration, voting rights, and Justice Department oversight — read: Mueller investigation — are just three of the politically charged issues under the committee’s jurisdiction.

.. Nadler has likewise skirted around such questions, though he said he is eager to conduct oversight hearings on the Trump administration’s policies of

  1. separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border,
  2. increases in anti-Semitic incidents and hate crimes since the president took office, and
  3. voter suppression, not to mention
  4. Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

.. “The question of impeachment is down the road,” Nadler told Roll Call in a wide-ranging interview in which he cast doubts over whether Democrats would ever reach a point where they would seriously pursue impeaching Trump.

“As far as impeachment is concerned, we have to see what Mueller comes up with,” Nadler said. “I certainly wouldn’t predict it.”

.. Though he hails from one of the most liberal districts in the country, New York’s 10th, Nadler’s political demeanor more closely resembles the calculated coolness of party leaders than the pot-stirring of liberal firebrands such as California Rep. Maxine Waters, the presumed next House Financial Services chairwoman

.. Multiple former aides could not identify a single hobby of his that didn’t include reading or debating public policy with his friends.

.. “Hobbies? He doesn’t have any,” said Brett Heimov, Nadler’s former Washington chief of staff. “Reading books — that’s his hobby.”

.. the only yeshiva-educated member of Congress. He does not drink. The most alcohol Nadler will consume is on Jewish holidays: a sip or two of Manischewitz for the Kiddush ritual.

.. He has retained senior staff in Washington and field directors in his district at an astonishingly high rate. Nadler’s Washington director, John Doty, has been with him since the congressman’s first full term. Same with his scheduler, Janice Siegel.

“Twelve years, 20 years, they’ve stuck with him,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a longtime friend. “He’s always had good staff around him.”

.. Just about the only thing that has changed about Nadler since the 1990s is his weight.

In the early 2000s, the congressman peaked at a gargantuan 338 pounds. The butt of countless bodyweight jokes, even among his peers, during the Clinton impeachment trial, Nadler used to take the elevator up to the second floor of the Capitol for votes because he just couldn’t make it up a lone flight of stairs. He underwent a stomach-reduction surgery during Congress’ August recess in 2002 and eventually cut his weight roughly in half.

.. Since arriving in Washington in 1992 after a 15-year stint in the New York state Assembly in Albany representing liberal Manhattan, Nadler has lived out of a suitcase in a series of hotels whenever he’s in town for work. For the first few years, he stayed at the Howard Johnson’s near the George Washington University campus.

.. From the start, Nadler opposed the sweeping 1994 crime bill that originated in the Judiciary Committee over the “three strikes” statute for previously convicted felons.

After the GOP picked up 54 seats and a majority in the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Revolution in the 1994 midterm elections, Nadler confronted Democratic leadership in a head-on clash to chip away at senior members’ monopoly of power at the committee and subcommittee level.

.. After the midterm trouncing, they agitated for a vote on a party rule that would bar Democratic chairs and ranking members from leading subcommittees, too. When Democratic leader Richard A. Gephardt refused, Nadler collected the requisite 50 petition signatures to force a vote.

The caucus voted to adopt the new rule, infuriating some members, including former Energy and Commerce Chairman John D. Dingell of Michigan, who was forced to give up one of his subcommittee posts.

“There were a number of committee chairmen who wouldn’t talk to me for years after that,” Nadler recalled. The clash over the rule, still the party standard, is largely forgotten these days.

Nadler didn’t make waves on the national scene until four years later, though, in 1998 when he emerged as one of Clinton’s most outspoken defenders during the impeachment proceedings.

Nadler relished being a nettle for Republicans as they pursued allegations that Clinton had perjured himself when he told independent counsel Ken Starr in a deposition that he never had a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The New York congressman was a frequent guest on CNN and other TV networks, on which he argued that Clinton may well have perjured himself — but that alone was not grounds for impeachment.

.. “An impeachable offense is an abuse of presidential power designed to or with the effect of undermining the structure or function of government, or undermining constitutional liberties,” he told the crowd of several hundred.

.. “The fact is, impeachment is not a criminal punishment,” Nadler told Roll Call. “There are crimes that you could commit that are not impeachable offenses and there are impeachable offenses that are not crimes. They’re different tests.”

.. During the Clinton impeachment proceedings, Nadler believed a crucial function of the Judiciary Committee was to educate Americans about that distinction between crimes and impeachable offenses.

He pushed for, and secured, a Judiciary hearing in 1998 to answer what constitutes an impeachable offense, even though Democrats were in the minority.

.. “The purpose of the whole impeachment process is to protect the integrity of liberty and of the rule of law and of government, to protect against a person with aggrandized power or who destroys the separation of powers or something like that,” Nadler said.

.. “If you’re serious about removing a president from office, what you’re really doing is overturning the result of the last election,” Nadler said. “You don’t want to have a situation where you tear this country apart and for the next 30 years half the country’s saying ‘We won the election, you stole it.’”

.. And by bipartisan support for impeachment, Nadler does not mean winning over Republican lawmakers.

“I’m talking about the voters, people who voted for Trump,” he said. “Do you think that the case is so stark, that the offenses are so terrible and the proof so clear, that once you’ve laid it all out you will have convinced an appreciable fraction of the people who voted for Trump, who like him, that you had no choice?

.. He has already promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding Sessions’ firing.

.. Part of that probe will focus on “cooperation” between Russians and Americans, including, potentially, some members of Trump’s inner circle

.. Legislatively, one of his top priorities will be to strike a deal with the Republican president and Senate on immigration, an elusive feat for recent administrations.