Rare charges of election fraud brought against GOP congressman
Time after time, serious attempts to uncover voting fraud have come up essentially empty — though no effort has been more dogged than by the Republicans in charge in Kansas. Now, an allegation has landed at their feet. The accused is a freshman GOP congressman from Topeka.
Rep. Steve Watkins was charged Tuesday with three felonies connected to the city's municipal election last year, apparently the first allegations of election cheating against a sitting member of Congress in more than two decades. He allegedly repeatedly signed documents listing a UPS store as his home address, allowing him to vote in a city council race decided by just 13 votes.
The case poses a nettlesome challenge for President Trump, who has spent the past four years wrongly asserting that voter fraud is rampant and GOP candidates are the principal victims — his rationale for opposing the liberalized use of mail ballots as he stands for re-election during the coronavirus pandemic.
Email is once again an acceptable way for voters in Atlanta to request an absentee ballot.
It wasn't for two days. On Monday and through most of Tuesday, election officials in Fulton County, which takes in much of the city, rejected emailed applications to vote by mail in next month's primary runoffs — telling people they needed to apply by letter, fax or in person. The state's most populous county reversed itself by the end of the day, after the state warned it was flatly violating Georgia law.
The flare-up, although limited and short lived, was still a fresh reminder of the long and multifaceted history of voter suppression in the Deep South's biggest state — which is under especially vigilant watch this year, when it's become both a presidential and two-seat Senate battleground.
Democrats have, as promised, taken their courthouse crusade for easier mail-in voting into bellwether Iowa — alleging a new state law makes it unfairly complicated to vote absentee.
Among those filing the state court lawsuit in Iowa City on Tuesday was Marc Elias, the attorney who has now filed three dozen cases on behalf of the party's campaign committees challenging a variety of election laws.
Their effort, which Republicans are fighting vigorously, aims to get courts to make voting easier this fall as a way to promote turnout during the coronavirus pandemic, which they're confident will benefit Democratic candidates. Iowa saw record turnout for its June primaries, with almost 80 percent of votes cast by mail — triple the usual share in the state.
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Daniella Ballou-Aares and Jessie Petrow-Cohen of the Leadership Now Project break down its recent analysis that looks at voter participation, electoral systems, and the concentration of campaign funding as factors preventing a truly representative democracy.
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