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Harris County wins challenge on citizenship checks on new voters

A Texas court rejected a conservative group’s demand that Harris County automatically reject, or at least investigate, voter registration forms submitted by people who say they aren’t U.S. citizens, delivering a win to the county registrar Wednesday. The Public Interest Legal Foundation said it uncovered dozens of examples of people who had not only been…

Harris County wins challenge on citizenship checks on new voters

A Texas court rejected a conservative group’s demand that Harris County automatically reject, or at least investigate, voter registration forms submitted by people who say they aren’t U.S. citizens, delivering a win to the county registrar Wednesday.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation said it uncovered dozens of examples of people who had not only been added to the voter rolls but even cast ballots — only to later be stricken from the rolls because they had not actually been citizens at the time.

PILF had asked the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston to issue an order demanding the registrar do more to weed out those instances. The court dismissed the request.

“This was the correct outcome,” said Registrar Ann Harris Bennett.

She had downplayed the PILF investigation, with her office saying the instances found were “mistakenly accepted almost a decade ago” and were “promptly” caught and corrected.

Logan Churchwell, a PILF staffer who compiled the data for the lawsuit, said they are assessing their legal options, but said their investigation stands on its own.

“The facts are still clear: Harris County has proven to register foreign nationals to vote despite their admitting at the time to be foreign nationals,” he said. “We must not lose sight of the fact that Harris County, by all appearances, has set these immigrants up to fail despite their honesty about their lacking eligibility.”

PILF’s investigation looked at voters the county itself had once registered, then later kicked of its rolls because it realized they weren’t citizens.

In at about 50 cases, PILF found, the people had actually told officials they weren’t citizens, checking “NO” next to that question on the registration form. In five other cases PILF found, they left that field blank. They were registered anyway.

PILF said they were usually taken off the rolls after they responded to some subsequent government communication, such as a jury summons, by asserting they weren’t in fact citizens.

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Lorain County, Ohio, the little election bellwether that could

ANALYSIS/OPINION: Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley is biking the battleground states as part of an ongoing series, visiting 14 states in 14 days to hear what real Americans think of the 2020 election. All of her interviews may be found HERE. LORAIN COUNTY, OHIO — Lorain County, located in the northeastern part of the…

Lorain County, Ohio, the little election bellwether that could

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley is biking the battleground states as part of an ongoing series, visiting 14 states in 14 days to hear what real Americans think of the 2020 election. All of her interviews may be found HERE.

LORAIN COUNTY, OHIO — Lorain County, located in the northeastern part of the state, may be home to only around 300,000.

But it could be an election bellwether just the same.

The ballot numbers over the past years have swung in some interesting ways. In 2008, the county voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama; 85,276 to John McCain’s 59,068. In 2012, again, it was Barack Obama; 81,464 to Mitt Romney’s 59,405.

In 2016, voters shifted.

The county was far less enthusiastic with the Democratic candidate and far more excited with the Republican.

Hillary Clinton only scored 66,949 to Donald Trump’s 66,818 votes. She won by 131 ballots.

So this November: Which way will they go?

Lorain County Republican Party chairman David Arredondo said the loss of manufacturing, steel and union jobs, combined with the stellar economy that marked Trump’s first few years in office have combined to bring about a lucrative opportunity for Republicans.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for reelecting Trump,” he said, in a sit-down interview at Republican Party headquarters in the quiet county seat of Lorain.

And the thuggery in the streets ain’t helping Democrats any, he added.

“They’re scared,” he said of voters. “They’re scared of the chaos. They know the difference between protesting and violence.”

The law and order messaging of Team Trump is resonating, Arredondo said.

Meanwhile, polls show: Joe Biden, in the hours ahead of Cleveland hosting the first presidential debate, leads with 48% to Trump’s 47%. That’s FiveThirtyEight.com — but SurveyMonkey says Trump’s actually got the lead in the state, 51% to 47%.

It’s a toss-up, all right.

Here’s the best advice: Polls, schmolls.

Madame President, anyone? Oops to that.

And Biden’s campaign is being run almost exactly like Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run — meaning, the old “I’m Not Trump, Vote For Me” line of logic. Some platform. It didn’t work for Clinton 2016; it won’t work for Biden 2020.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s what little Lorain is saying as well.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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Harris County, Texas, approving noncitizens’ voter registrations, lawsuit claims

Texas’ largest county has been approving voter registrations even when people say they’re not citizens, according to a lawsuit announced Monday that found some of those people managed to cast ballots, too. The Public Interest Legal Foundation says it uncovered dozens of examples of people who registered in Harris County over the last two decades,…

Harris County, Texas, approving noncitizens’ voter registrations, lawsuit claims

Texas’ largest county has been approving voter registrations even when people say they’re not citizens, according to a lawsuit announced Monday that found some of those people managed to cast ballots, too.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation says it uncovered dozens of examples of people who registered in Harris County over the last two decades, either admitted they weren’t citizens or left the box blank, yet were registered anyway. They were removed from the rolls after they later stated, again, that they weren’t, in fact, citizens.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation says there are others it didn’t catch, including new applicants.

It asked a state appeals court in Houston to order Harris County to deny any applicants who don’t affirmatively check the “YES” box asserting citizenship, or at least to investigate each case before approval.

“Individuals claiming to be foreign nationals should not be registered in Harris County,” said PILF President J. Christian Adams. “These failures harm citizens, but they also put those immigrants into serious jeopardy with federal officials.”

The lawsuit includes registration forms showing the citizenship box checked “NO” and includes voter registration records showing that those people were still signed up. In each case, they were later expunged because officials decided they weren’t in fact citizens.

PILF says that usually occurs when an individual responds to a jury summons by saying he or she isn’t a citizen or file a subsequent voter application.

Neither the Harris County voter registrar nor the county attorney’s office responded to requests for comment.

PILF’s lawsuit is the latest by an ally of the president to challenge election behavior in the months leading up to the Nov. 3 elections.

On Saturday the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee and GOP officials in North Carolina sued that state over new lenient vote-by-mail rules written by the Board of Elections. The Trump team has now filed lawsuits against state or county officials in at least six states.

Trump lawyers accused the North Carolina board of reaching a “backroom deal” to allow voters who cast deficient ballots, such as lacking the right signatures, to “cure” them by signing an affidavit rather than casting a new ballot correctly. The rules also allow ballot harvesting, or collecting of absentee ballots by unrelated people.

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit says the state legislature considered and rejected all of those ideas when it wrote new election laws earlier this year, yet state officials have now embraced them.

“North Carolina law specifically prohibits the practices now promoted by the Board of Elections,” the Trump team said in its lawsuit.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers asked for a temporary restraining order.

North Carolina Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, in a response Monday, called the claims “factually and legally baseless.”

He also accused the Trump team of court-shopping by bringing the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. He said cases involving other challenges to the state’s election procedures are being heard in the Middle District, but those rulings haven’t been to the Trump team’s liking.

North Carolina marks at least the fifth state Mr. Trump and his team have sued over voting rules. The others are Montana, New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The Trump team also sued some Iowa counties.

Republicans won challenges in Iowa, but had their lawsuit in Nevada tossed by a federal judge who said the claims were too “speculative” at this point.

Most of the challenges are over procedures for mail-in ballots, which Mr. Trump says open the door to more fraud than in-person voting.

That’s particularly true for states rushing to adopt all-mail systems, where every registered voter will be mailed a ballot. Most states use an absentee system in which those planning to vote by mail must request a ballot — and in some cases, to have a valid reason not to vote in person.

The noncitizen registration marks another form of potential fraud.

The Washington Times reported this month on six people who admitted in court cases that they weren’t citizens and cast illegal ballots in 2016, yet whose names remain on voter rolls in North Carolina.

In Texas, the PILF records span 55 cases dating to 1996. Six of them showed votes cast by people later deemed noncitizens.

Some of them may later have earned citizenship.

One 2012 registration form showed the applicant checked the “NO” box for citizenship, then wrote in later that they were a legal resident but “not yet” a citizen. That person is listed as having voted in 2012, then being canceled two years later for not being a citizen.

In each case the situation came to light because Harris County officials registered someone and then later expunged them, citing citizenship reasons.

PILF had to sue Harris County to get the records, winning a settlement that requires county officials to provide seven years of documents. PILF says it still doesn’t have all the ones it’s entitled to.

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Los Angeles County seeks to punish church for indoor reopening with $20,000 in sanctions

Los Angeles County has asked a court to hold Grace Community Church in contempt for holding indoor services on Sunday, seeking more than $20,000 in damages for violating public health orders on the novel coronavirus. Pastor John MacArthur held Sunday worship indoors — the county said there were three services — defying a California Court…

Los Angeles County seeks to punish church for indoor reopening with $20,000 in sanctions

Los Angeles County has asked a court to hold Grace Community Church in contempt for holding indoor services on Sunday, seeking more than $20,000 in damages for violating public health orders on the novel coronavirus.

Pastor John MacArthur held Sunday worship indoors — the county said there were three services — defying a California Court of Appeal ruling the day before that blocked a judge’s order allowing churchgoers to worship in the sanctuary wearing masks and social distancing.

“Defendants refuse to comply, continuing to hold three indoor services even after the Court of Appeal instructed them not to,” said the county’s complaint filed Wednesday. “Defendants willfully disobeyed the Court Orders and are intent on continuing to do so. Grace Church cannot thumb its nose at the Court when decisions don’t go its way.”

The county asked for $1,000 per service per defendant — Grace Community Church and Mr. MacArthur — as well as penalties for violating court orders and refusing to allow the Department of Public Health on the premises, which with legal fees totaled more than $20,000.

The church has sued the county and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, arguing that they have held churches to an unconstitutional double-standard by allowing protesters to flout the emergency COVID-19 orders while taking a hard line on indoor worship.

Jenna Ellis, attorney for the Thomas More Society, which represents the church, slammed the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for its “unconstitutional attack.”

“Pastor MacArthur is standing firm that church is essential and has no plans to yield to this tyrannical board, which is clearly defying the constitution’s mandate to protect religious liberty,” Ms. Ellis said.

Let LA County’s Board of Supervisors know you support our biblical command and constitutionally protected right to meet together and worship our Lord! ⬇️ https://t.co/HdKwHJhIUr
— Grace Church (@GraceComChurch) August 19, 2020

The church, which also offers outdoor seating and online viewing of services, began offering indoor services July 26, prompting the county to issue a cease-and-desist letter warning of fines and up to 90 days’ imprisonment for each violation.

“They don’t want us to meet, that’s obvious,” Mr. MacArthur said Sunday from the pulpit. “They’re not willing to work with us. They just want to shut us down. But we’re here to bring honor to the Lord.”

The county described its contempt filing as a “last resort,” arguing that the indoor services at the Sun Valley megachurch, which seats 3,500, “dramatically increase the potential for COVID-19 transmission.”

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