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UPDATE: Google says it is reevaluating its support for GOP group pushing voter suppression laws
On Monday, Popular Information and Documented reported that Google was funding and collaborating with a Republican organization pushing voter suppression. Specifically, according to internal documents, Google's State Policy Manager, Joe Dooley, was listed as a participant in an April 6 working group hosted by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). The private event on "election integrity" was led by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrell (R), who has embraced Trump's lies and conspiracies about election fraud. Merrell's presentation outlined a number of proposals to restrict voting.
The meeting came a week after Google's SVP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker, tweeted that the company is "concerned about efforts to restrict voting at a local level" and "strongly support[s] the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act."
Google did not respond to our inquiries about the company's relationship with the group, its participation in the April 6 meeting, and its plans for future financial support of the RSLC. But the story has garnered considerable attention online, and now the company has released a statement.
Google confirmed to Axios that it sent a representative to the April 6 working group. The company claimed that its representative attended the meeting "to understand whether our products would be discussed" and "[w]hen it became clear they weren't going to be, he left." It did not specify when Dooley left the meeting or why the company thought that Merrell would be discussing Google products in a presentation about "election integrity."
Google told Axios that it is "evaluating whether it will continue contributing to the [RSLC]." In light of Google's public statements on voting rights, it's unclear what Google needs to evaluate. As Axios notes, "Google appears to want to have its cake and eat it too by funding a group actively trying to enact legislation it says it opposes."
Other corporations listed in internal documents as attending the April 6 meeting, including Citi, Deloitte, Comcast, Dominion Energy, CVS, Walgreens, and AstraZeneca, still have not addressed their relationship with the RSLC.
UPDATE: Texas Senate appoints all-white conference committee to consider voter suppression legislation
In Texas, both the House and the Senate have passed versions of a bill called SB 7. While both bills aim to restrict voting, they differ significantly. The Senate version would ban voting methods used to make voting more convenient in Harris County, which has a large concentration of Black voters, including drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting. The House version includes "provisions greatly expanding the autonomy and authority of partisan poll watchers, included new penalties for election officials and workers who violate the rules, and barred officials from sending out absentee ballots to voters who have not requested them."
There is no evidence of election fraud in Harris County or elsewhere in the state. And Republicans have not even alleged there were any problems. "We don’t need to wait for bad things to happen to try to secure our elections," Representative Briscoe Cain (R), the chairman of the House Elections Committee, said. Cain and other proponents of the legislation have pushed Trump's false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Now the Texas House and Senate have created a conference committee to combine the two versions of the bill before a final vote in each chamber. While the bills target communities of color, all five senators appointed to the conference committee are white.
The Texas branches of the NAACP and LULAC sent a letter to Senate leaders about the homogeneity of the conferees.
We have just received word that the Conference Committee for SB7 has been announced and no African-American nor Latino members were appointed. Since SB7... will have a far greater and negative impact on the Black and Brown communities of the state, we are sorely disappointed at this decision. In 2010, the Census recorded the Texas adult population as 49.4 percent Latino and African-American combined… This means that one of the primary purposes of the Voting Rights Act, to give equitable voices to Latinos and African-Americans, is being trangressed again. Our organizations have come together to express our outrage at this seemingly intentional oversight.
The House is expected to appoint its members of the conference committee soon.
UPDATE: Republican-controlled county board says Arizona audit a "circus"
Earlier this month, Popular Information reported on the "audit" of 2.1 million votes in Maricopa County, Arizona. The audit, which was initiated by Republican members of the Arizona Senate, is being conducted by a firm run by a firm called Cyber Ninjas, which has no experience conducting election audits. The CEO of Cyber Ninjas is Doug Logan, "who has a history of posting unsubstantiated claims of election fraud online," including numerous conspiracy theories alleging the election was stolen from Trump.
Recently, Senate President Karen Fann ® and a Twitter account controlled by Cyber Ninjas accused the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors of "deleting a directory full of databases from the 2020 election cycle days before the election equipment was delivered to the audit."
The allegation was seized on by Trump, who now posts rants on his personal website:
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which is controlled by Republicans, fired back in a letter to Fann. First, they said the allegation that it had deleted a file was false and proof that the auditors are clueless:
We demand that you immediately rescind your false and malicious tweet asserting that Maricopa County “spoiled evidence” in the days before we provided the server to the Senate. Your tweet, which relies on the “modified date” shown in the screenshot as evidence of wrongdoing, is demonstrably false; the only thing it does demonstrate is your auditors’ incompetence. Their stunning lack of a basic understanding for how their software works is egregious and only made worse by the false tweet sent defaming the hardworking employees of Maricopa County.
Then they provided a detailed technical explanation as to why the allegation was false. Finally, they called on Fann to end the audit for the sake of Arizona and American democracy:
Finally, we express our united view that your “audit”, no matter what your intentions were in the beginning, has become a spectacle that is harming all of us. Our state has become a laughingstock. Worse, this “audit” is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic.
...We implore you to recognize the obvious truth: your “auditors” are in way over their heads. They do not have the experience necessary to conduct an audit of an election. They do not know the laws, nor the procedures, nor the best practices. It is inevitable that they will arrive at questionable conclusions.
It is time to end this.
After weeks of counting, the auditors have made it through just 500,000 ballots. The process is expected to last well into the summer.