Census Undercounting of Minority Populations
The Census Bureau released the results (March 10, 2022) of its post-enumeration survey and analysis following the 2020 census. While the results showed that the total population count was accurate, the census undercounted other populations such as the Black/African American population and the Hispanic/Latino population.
The Black or African American alone or in combination population had a statistically significant undercount of 3.30%, higher than the undercount (2.06%) of the 2010 census. The Hispanic or Latino population had a statistically significant undercount rate of 4.99%, significantly higher than the undercount (1.54%) in 2010. The Asian population actually had an overcount rate of 2.62%, up from 0.00% in 2010.
Under- or overcounts can affect not only the distribution of voting populations in the redistricting process of States, but it can affect the distribution of Federal resources. As articulated in an article in RollCall, about $1.5 trillion in Federal funds are distributed annually on the basis of population data.
Voting Rights Legislation
The House of Representatives passed (January 13, 2022) combined legislation that includes both the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Act (a good summary of the combined bill provisions can be found in an article by Business Insider). While the bills individually passed the House 2021, they were combined and passed again in the House (January 2022) to facilitate consideration by the Senate and a hoped-for breaking of a Republican-led filibuster on the legislation.
In a vote on January 19, 2022, however, the Senate could not break the filibuster. In addition, two of fifty Democratic Senators joined all fifty Republicans to prevent Senate rules changes that would permit voting rights legislation to be considered and approved by a simple majority vote (note: the U.S. Vice President can vote in the Senate which presently could give Democrats a majority vote).
Among other things, the combined legislation would have taken a number of significant actions on voting rules that would have facilitated greater voter participation; ensured safe elections; strengthened campaign finance and disclosure; and enabled Federal oversight of State elections law changes. With the failure of Senate action to overcome a filibuster, any further consideration of voting rights legislation is unlikely in the current (117th) Congress.
Advancing Democracy Overseas
The United States hosted the first of two planned "Summits for Democracy" on December 9-10, 2021, "to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action." No specific date has been set for the second summit, though it is expected to be one year from this first summit.
In tandem with this summit, the Biden Administration announced a supporting initiative that covers five priority areas with specific federal funding support; as well as regulatory, law enforcement, and policy-focused actions. The five areas include:
Supporting free and independent media, to include funding via USAID of $30 million for the International Fund for Public Interest Media; $5 million for a new Media Viability Accelerator; $9 million to support a Defamation Defense Fund for Journalists; and $3.5 million (via State) to establish a Journalism Protection Platform.
Fighting corruption by allocating $5 million towards a new Empowering Anti-Corruption Change Agents Program (via USAID); $6 million towards the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium (via State); $15.1 million to launch a Democracies Against Safe Havens Initiative (via State); allocating $15.7 million for a Combating Transnational Corruption Grand Challenge (via USAID); $11.5 million for a Global Accountability Program (via USAID); $17.6 million for a Anti-Corruption Response Fund (via USAID); and, $6.5 million to establish a Global Initiative to Galvanize the Private Sector as Partners in Combatting Corruption (via State).
Bolstering democratic reformers, with $33.5 million to launch an Advancing Women's and Girls' Civic and Political Leadership Initiative (via State and USAID); $5 million to launch a Global LGBTQI+ Inclusives Democracy and Empowerment (GLIDE) Fund (via State); $10 million for Lifeline: Embattled CSOs Assistance Fund (via State); $1 million to establish a Bridging Understanding, Integrity, and Legitimacy for Democracy (BUILD) Initiative (via State); $15 million for a Powered by the People Initiatives (via USAID) supporting nonviolent social movements; and $122 million for a Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment, and Rights (via Labor, State, and USAID).
Advancing technology for democracy, working in particular through the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC); providing $20.3 million to build on programming that supports open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems; providing $3.75 million for "a series of" International Grand Challenges on Democracy-Affirming Technologies; launching an Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative; and providing up to $4 million for a Multilateral Surge and Sustain Fund for Anti-Censorship Technology (via State).
Defending free and fair elections and political processes, providing $2.5 million to launch a Coalition for Security Electoral Integrity (via USAID); $17.5 million to establish a Defending Democratic Elections Fund; $55 million for a Partnerships for Democracy program (via USAID); and, $10 million for a Fund for Democratic Renewal (via State).
US Elections Interference - Iran
DOJ announced (November, 18, 2021) that it had charged two Iranian nationals for involvement in a "cyber-enabled campaign to intimidate and influence American voters, and otherwise undermine voter confidence and sow discord, in connection with the 2020 U.S. presidential election." Among other things, DOJ says the individuals obtained information of 100,000 voters in one US state; posed as members of the "Proud Boy" organization, sending threatening emails to Democratic voters in order to get them to vote for former President Trump; and, created and disseminated a video containing disinformation about purported election infrastructure vulnerabilities.
National Security Officials on Elections
A group of former high ranking national security officials posted a letter (November 9, 2021) to Congress summarizing risks to our nation's security because of coordinated elections disinformation, disruptions to the professional administration of elections, and harassment of elections officials. The letter calls on Congress to call out "destructive speech and practices" that undermine fair elections,"push back" on unwarranted elections reviews, and do more to protect elections officials through law enforcement actions.
No Results Found
Federal Campaign Law Contribution Limits
This website of the Federal Election Commission provides detail on current-law candidate campaign contribution limits.
Status: while elements of campaign reform legislation are under consideration in 2022, no legislation is likely to pass in the full (117th) Congress.
Senate Rules & the Fillibuster
This is an explantion of current Senate floor/debate rules by the Congressional Research Service with respect to the fillibuster.
Status: no changes are expected to current fillibuster rules.
Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act
This proposed legislation (HR 5746) combines the elements of the two primary voting rights bills in the 117th Congress -- the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The combined bill would address, among other things, a broad range of elections integrity, voter access and rights, judicial oversight, and elections process matters.
Status: this legislation passed the House on January 13, 2022. The Senate did not consider the bill given a Republican-led fillibuster and the opposition of 2 of 50 Democratic senators to permit a change to Senate rules to permit voting rights legislation to be considered, and pass within the Senate by a simple majority vote. No further action is anticipated in the current (117th) Congress.