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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Voting rights activists secured a big win in Nevada, where the legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that would automatically restore the voting rights of ex-felons. It is expected to be signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak and would go into effect on July 1. The bill, which is retroactive, is expected to restore the franchise for some 77,000 Nevadans.

Nevada legislators also passed a bill that would have the state join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, where states pledge to award their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, rather than the popular vote of the state itself. Sisolak has not signaled whether he will sign the bill, but if he does, Nevada will be the 15th state to join the compact and it will have 195 electoral votes total among members. Once the compact has 270 electoral votes, it kicks in, and will in effect end the Electoral College.

After undermining the Florida ballot initiative giving ex-felons the right to vote — by passing a bill requiring they pay back all fines, including administrative fees, first — the Florida legislature also passed legislation that will keep confidential voter records related to felon re-enfranchisement. Supporters say it will protect the ex-cons who register to vote from being singled out and harassed, but it will also make it harder to track the effect the ballot initiative has.

The fallout continues from the recent revelation that voter data networks of two Florida counties were successfully targeted by Russian hackers in 2016. Much is still not known about the cyberattack — as the FBI has barred Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and others from revealing which two counties were attacked. (One of them, Washington County in Florida’s pan handle, has been identified by the Washington Post.) But DeSantis on Wednesday initiated a state review of the cyber security of Florida’s election systems. DeSantis’ order comes after the Florida legislature repeatedly rebuffed state election officials’ request for funding to beef up their cyber security efforts.

The Washington Post on Friday published an investigation into how the new Tennessee law targeting voter registration drives came to be. What the report found was that local election officials did face a significant challenge in vetting thousands of voter applications submitted before the 2018 midterm. However, WaPo also reported that state legislators, who never formally investigated the level irregularities on the forms, exaggerated or made unsubstantiated statements about the threat of fraud from the voter registration drives. The law is now the target of two separate lawsuits.

As we wait for the Supreme Court’s decisions later this summer in two partisan gerrymandering cases from North Carolina and Maryland, the court on Friday temporarily paused lower court decisions in partisan gerrymandering cases in Ohio and Michigan, where the states were ordered to redraw the maps before the 2020 elections. The move, which had public dissents, was not a surprise, and if the court rules in the North Carolina and Maryland cases in a way that lets the Ohio and Michigan decisions to stand, there will be plenty of time to let the redrawing of the maps go forward.

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The Justice Department on Monday issued a legal opinion claiming that Congress could not compel former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

The opinion was released not long after reports that the White House was planning to instruct  McGahn to not comply with a House subpoena that he testify at a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.

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Missouri’s effort to gut the anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative voters recently approved flamed out, thanks to an unforced procedural error last week. That doesn’t mean that Missouri Republicans won’t try again next year. But this year’s legislative session ended without the GOP being able to get on the 2020 ballot a measure that would have reversed or undermined key redistricting provisions in the 2018 so-called Clean Missouri ballot initiative. They failed, in part, because not enough Republicans showed up to a committee vote to advance the House-passed measure to the Senate floor.

It is also looking unlikely that Texas GOP legislators will be able to pass their marquee anti-voting rights legislation, which critics said was designed to suppress voter turnout. The controversial bill would make certain election code violations — even if done unknowingly — crimes punishable with jail time and also put new paperwork requirements on those who assist voters with physical impairments that prevent them from entering polling places. While it looked ready to advance last week, on Sunday night a House committee opted against scheduling it for debate on the chamber floor this week, the last week the legislature is in session. There is a chance Republicans will attempt to tack on individual provisions to legislation already scheduled to be debated, but that will be an uphill battle

And the fallout continues from Texas’ attempt — now withdrawn — to encourage local counties to purge their voter rolls based on a methodologically flawed list of alleged noncitizen voters. It was revealed Wednesday that Texas used federal funding from the the Help America Vote Act to assemble the list — a move that was not technically illegal, but, in spirit, counter to the goals of HAVA, which is geared towards security upgrades for voting equipment. Texas was sued over the list, and in a settlement last month, agreed to significantly narrow its approach to IDing alleged noncitizen voters and to withdraw the original list, which claimed that there were nearly 100,000 alleged noncitizens on the rolls.

Texas is also continuing to resist the U.S. House Oversight Committee’s request for documents pertaining to how the list came to be. The Texas AG’s office sent Oversight Dems a troll-y letter — which included an overhyped claim that the AG’s office had prosecuted 33 defendants for voter fraud last year — declining to turn over most of the documents the committee requested.

The FBI has managed to unite Democrats and Republicans on a Russia-probe related issue by being extremely cagey about Russia’s intrusions into the voter data systems in two Florida counties. The FBI, in a classified briefing on Thursday, told Florida’s House delegation which two counties the Russians had successfully intruded upon, but barred the lawmakers from relaying that information to the public. The FBI also refused to identify for lawmakers the Florida counties whose networks were unsuccessfully targeted by Russian hackers in 2016. The lawmakers are now calling upon the FBI to change the internal policies that are preventing it from being more transparent, and are floating the possibility of using legislation to require the FBI to do so if it doesn’t overhaul the regulations in question on its own.

Lastly: Don’t miss the round-up I did last week on what are already shaping up to be the biggest obstacles between voters and the ballot box in 2020.

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