A federal judge has blocked implementation of a new voter identification law set to go into effect in North Carolina, claiming Republican state legislators who authored the bill were intending racial discrimination.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs noted in her ruling on Tuesday that North Carolina "has a sordid history of racial discrimination and voter suppression stretching back to the time of slavery, through the era of Jim Crow, and, crucially, continuing up to the present day."
Biggs blocked use of the voter ID requirement until there is a trial. That, in effect, means North Carolina voters won't have to present an ID when they vote in the state's March 3 primary elections.
Investigators with the Department of Homeland Security could not "conclusively identify" any attempt by outsiders to hack into North Carolina election equipment that malfunctioned in 2016.
Durham County and state election officials asked the DHS to investigate after some pollbooks (laptops running software used to maintain voter files) inaccurately listed voters as already having voted, identified registered voters as not registered, and prompted election workers to ask for identification, which is not required under state law.
Further concern was raised because VR Systems, the Florida company that made the electronic pollbooks, was the target of Russian hackers.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election said an unnamed company had its computer system hacked and the information obtained was used to send out fake emails to some of its Florida customers. The company has since been identified as VR Systems, but its leaders have denied VR computer systems were compromised.
One of the most prominent talking points in the entire democracy reform movement is that curbing money's sway over elections is a prerequisite to fixing every one of the nation's biggest problems. Now critics of partisan gerrymandering are trying to piggyback on that concept.
A new study concludes that aggressive legislative mapmaking by Republican majorities is responsible for the lack of any new gun control laws in five states during a decade marked by the accelerating pace of mass shootings.
In issuing the report Tuesday, the Center for American Progress, one of Washington's most influential liberal think tanks, joined the lengthening roster of groups advocating for states to take the drawing of political boundaries away from the politicians themselves in and turn the responsibility over to independent and nonpartisan panels.
Special-interest groups, many with donors the public never knows about, continued to play an outsized role in the financing of elections for state Supreme Courts across the country, a new analysis finds.
More than $39.7 million was spent on four dozen contests for seats on the top courts in 21 states last year, and 27 percent of the money was contributed by advocacy organizations allowed by state and federal laws to keep secret the identities of their benefactors. The calculation was unveiled Wednesday by the Brennan Center for Justice, which advocates for tougher campaign finance regulation and many other causes on the left side of the democracy reform debate.
By comparison, in no election during the past two decades have these so-called "dark money" organizations accounted for more than 19 percent of all spending in races for Congress.
The lack of donor transparency has the obvious potential to obscure all sorts of conflicts of interest for the justices on state Supreme Courts, who have the final say annually on litigation directing billions of dollars into corporate coffers and consumers' wallets. And, the Brennan Center wrote, it also undermines the public's confidence in state judicial systems maintaining their impartiality.