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The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State has set its sights on five secretaries of state offices it wants to flip in 2020 in an effort that explicitly cites GOP attacks on voting rights.
The organization unveiled the campaign on Thursday with a promotional video.
“Republican secretaries of state are helping Trump wage a Jim Crow-style assault on our voting rights targeting, students, seniors and people of color with what a federal court called surgical precision,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, chair of Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, said in the video.
According to the Washington Post, the group is specifically targeting races in Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia, where Republicans currently hold the secretary of state’s office, which typically overseas elections. The group will also work to keep Democrats in the secretary of state’s offices in North Carolina and Vermont, the Post said, and will lend its support to Democratic secretary of state candidates running in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, which hold their elections for the office this year.
This is great news because it’s a growing movement to protect the vote:
Jason Snead, a policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, dismissed the notion of voter suppression in an interview last week after former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams announced an initiative to help Democrats set up voter protection operations in 20 states next year.
“I simply do not see any evidence of voter suppression and do not subscribe to the notion that election integrity measures constitute voter suppression,” Snead said.
He said requiring people to show identification to vote and routinely purging from voter rolls the names of people who have not cast ballots in years are reasonable safeguards.
“I don’t think they’re designed in any way to disenfranchise voters, and I don’t think they have that effect,” he said.
Republicans and conservative activists have criticized Padilla for problems with last year’s launch of California’s “motor voter” program, including about 84,000 duplicate registrations, inaccurate party affiliations and about 1,500 ineligible people who were registered to vote. Some GOP lawmakers and conservative activists have blamed some midterm losses for the glitches, but news reports have not uncovered significant voter fraud.
Former U.S. attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., who heads the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, is also contributing to the effort to flip secretaries of state. Republicans, whose numbers are shrinking as a result of demographic changes, he said, are trying to hold on to power by making it more difficult for an increasingly diverse electorate to vote. “It’s un-American and unpatriotic,” he said.
“Our election system is the bedrock of the democratic process,” Holder said. “If their power is unchecked, Republican secretaries of state will undermine our elections and ultimately undermine our democracy.”
The debate over how states run elections ignited last year in Georgia when Republican Brian Kemp refused to step down as secretary of state while running for governor. During Kemp’s tenure, more than 1.4 million voters were purged from the rolls and tens of thousands of people had their registration put on hold for minor discrepancies or because application processing was arbitrarily cut off. Kemp was ordered by the courts multiple times to reverse or revise such policies.
Abrams, the Democratic nominee, called Kemp the “architect of voter suppression” and cited widespread voting irregularities for her narrow defeat. She formed the voter protection initiative Fair Fight and filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the state “grossly mismanaged” the 2018 election, calling for improvements to how the state runs its elections — from how it registers voters to how it counts ballots.
Abrams last week announced her Fair Fight 2020 campaign, a $5 million program that provides funding and technical assistance to help Democrats hire staff, set up hotlines and develop communications strategies to help voters obtain registration information.
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