News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

North Carolina was one of the states partially covered by the Voting Rights Act "preclearance" requirement that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Purges worst in places Justice Department no longer oversees, research shows

Voters in counties that were once under federal oversight because of past election discrimination are being purged from the registration rolls at much higher rates than other counties, according to new research.

The Brennan Center for Justice, in a report released this week, examined the culling of registered voters by state officials across the country in the previous three years. One aim was to see what had happened in the years since the Supreme Court struck down as antiquated the system for deciding which states and counties would require Justice Department approval before making any changes to election procedures – such as purging of voting lists.

This "preclearance" requirement, a central part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, applied to eight states in the South and parts of six other states where there was a history of racial discrimination in the political process.


The Brennan Center found that 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018. The purge rate for that period in jurisdictions previously covered by preclearance was 40 percent higher than in those areas not covered by that oversight requirement, researchers found.

The principal stated aim of such purges is to remove duplicates, the dead and people who've moved out of state – all in the name of preventing potential fraud. But the improper removal of properly registered and politically active people has historically been used as a technique to prevent blacks and other minorities from voting.

Heading into the 2020 election, the report calls on election administrators to be "diligent in their efforts to avoid erroneously purging voters."

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Open Government
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub

The struggle is real: FEC stalled on regulations for online political ads

The Federal Election Commission has once again punted on establishing rules for identifying who is sponsoring online political advertisements. Thursday marked the fourth consecutive meeting in which the topic fell to the wayside without a clear path forward.

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub revived debate on the topic in June when she introduced a proposal on how to regulate online political ads. In her proposal, she said the growing threat of misinformation meant that requiring transparency for political ads was "a small but necessary step."

Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioner Caroline Hunter put forth their own proposal soon after Weintraub, but the commissioners have failed to find any middle ground. At Thursday's meeting, a decision on the agenda item was pushed off to a later date.

Weintraub's proposal says the funding source should be clearly visible on the face of the ad, with some allowance for abbreviations. But Petersen and Hunter want to allow more flexibility for tiny ads that cannot accommodate these disclaimers due to space.

Keep reading... Show less
Open Government
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

California's Supreme Court is expediting President Trump's challenge to a new state law that would require him to release five years of tax returns in order to get on the state ballot for the 2020 election.

California court expedites Trump challenge to new tax returns requirement

The California Supreme Court is fast-tracking its review of a challenge to a new law that would require President Trump to make public his tax returns in order to get on the state's ballot for the 2020 election.

A lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the law was filed August 6 by the California Republican Party against Secretary of State Alex Padilla. It claims the law violates California's constitution.

Two other challenges, one filed by Trump's personal lawyers, are pending in federal court.

Keep reading... Show less