Local and State Politics Grow Increasingly Nationalized – Public News Service

Political candidates running for federal office have grown increasingly reliant on out-of-state donations, according to a new report.

Government transparency group Open Secrets found Senate candidates from less populated states, like Maine, receive more than half their donations from out of state, with only a little more than for House contenders.

Sarah Bryner, director of research for Open Secrets, said social media is boosting candidates’ profiles, allowing them to raise funds from people who will likely never vote for them.

“You would just assume that people who are giving to candidates in Maine would be from Maine,” Bryner pointed out. “That, over time, has become less and less the case.”

Bryner noted Democrats are more reliant on out-state money than Republicans, although the gap has narrowed in recent years.

The report showed ideological donors have increased as a portion of out-of-state contributors. Bryner emphasized political polarization is leading Americans to become more aware of candidates outside their state and how they’d potentially vote on such important matters as climate change or reproductive rights.

“You want people representing us as a nation who are in line with your beliefs, whether or not they’re representing your interests specifically, or your district specifically,” Bryner observed.

For example, Bryner noted, in the election after Sen. Susan Collins of Maine voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, out-of-state donors flooded her opponent’s campaign with donations unprecedented in previous Maine elections.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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A Colorado lawsuit getting lots of national attention aims to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is looking to remove the former president, citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This post-Civil War language says anyone who took an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and then engages in rebellion or insurrection should be disqualified from holding office.

Donald Sherman, CREW’s chief counsel and executive vice president, described how the former president’s other trials could impact this case in particular.

“The former president’s conviction in any one of the many criminal trials that he is facing – but especially the Georgia case and the Jack Smith case, they’re related to Jan. 6 – could bolster the already overwhelming public case against the former president,” he said.

A criminal conviction isn’t required for a person to be disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, Sherman said Trump has said there is no basis for this legal theory to be used. But in August, a paper written by members of the conservative Federalist Society said the former president could be disqualified through the 14th Amendment.

Based on this, Sherman noted that other elected officials who took part in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection could also be removed from office in this manner. A CREW lawsuit led a judge to remove Couy Griffin, a former Otero County, New Mexico commissioner, from office for participating in Jan. 6. Sherman noted that it could be a precedent.

“The case certainly should be considered persuasive in any future disqualification cases against the former president,” he said. “It is the first court case where a judge determined, as a matter of law, that Jan. 6 was an insurrection.”

Sherman said he hopes the lawsuit ultimately leads to accountability for all elected officials who were part of the insurrection. He added that it isn’t about partisanship or ideological differences – but is based on how numerous legal scholars have interpreted the 14th Amendment and found that Section 3 could be used to disqualify the former president.

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Introduced federal legislation aims to counter the growing threat of election disinformation as social media platforms scale back efforts to control it.

Backers of the “Freedom to Vote Act” say it would prohibit false statements about federal elections designed to prevent people from voting, including from the candidates themselves.

Emma Steiner, information accountability project manager with the non-partisan group Common Cause, said disinformation can often be hard to spot.

“A lot of times people fall for disinformation,” said Steiner, “because it seems to confirm something they already believe and that’s where people get tripped up.”

Steiner recommended that people always refer to official sources for voting information – including Secretary of States’ offices or local election boards.

She said disinformation often increases after an election… before the final votes are even tallied.

Recent employee layoffs at tech companies have drastically reduced efforts to stop the spread of election disinformation while social media platforms have stopped labeling or removing posts making false claims about the 2020 election.

Steiner said that leaves too many social media users vulnerable.

“Disinformation spreaders and disinformation campaigns tend to target marginalized populations and people who live in information voids,” said Steiner, “meaning they don’t have the resources or capacity to find reliable information.”

Steiner said while Facebook – for example – has made some effort to fight disinformation by launching its Voting and Election Center, tech companies still have a responsibility to ensure information being shared on their platforms is accurate.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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As youth voter turnout increases, so do the barriers these voters face to participate in elections.

Republican-led legislatures – including in New Hampshire – have introduced bills to prevent out-of-state college students from voting on campus, or ban the use of student ID’s to register.

President of NextGen America Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez said the bills are an effort to suppress young voters, who increasingly vote for more liberal-leaning candidates.

“You know,” said Ramirez, “what you don’t get to do in a democracy is say, ‘I don’t like the way this group is voting, so I’m going to make sure they don’t get to vote.’”

Proponents of these bills say they’re needed to protect against voter fraud despite a lack of evidence.

Ramirez said both political parties recognize the power of the youth vote – now the largest and most diverse generational voting bloc in the country.

Reintroduced federal legislation, the “Youth Voting Rights Act,” would increase voter registration opportunities at colleges and universities, and require every state to allow pre-registration to vote beginning at age 16.

Ramirez said the bill will gain traction the more young people vote.

“What we’ve seen is,” said Ramirez, “when we invest the time and energy to register, pledge young people to vote, tell them how and when to vote, they will show up.”

Ramirez said the Youth Voting Rights Act would also create a grant program to support youth-led voter outreach programs to ensure the number of young people exercising their right to cast a ballot keeps growing.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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