Author

Kira Lerner

Kira Lerner

Kira Lerner is the democracy reporter for States Newsroom in Washington, D.C. She has previously covered voting, criminal justice, and civil rights issues for publications including Votebeat and The Appeal.

Report says hundreds of state legislators have joined far-right Facebook groups

By: - May 18, 2022

More than 1 in 5 state lawmakers across the country have joined at least one far-right Facebook group, according to a new report.  Together the lawmakers sponsored 963 bills during the most recent legislative sessions, said the group that wrote the report, which describes the far-right efforts as anti-human rights. The Institute for Research and […]

Early Voting signs on a building in downtown Minnesota

Election officials make their voices heard as battleground states debate voting laws

By: - May 12, 2022

When Georgia legislators pushed through a restrictive voting bill during the 2021 session, Bartow County election supervisor Joseph Kirk said he felt frustrated and sidelined.  Lawmakers largely didn’t take election officials’ views into account, he said, and what resulted was a law that included a number of provisions that he said election officials believe are […]

Decline in federal grant funding for local elections criticized by advocates

By: - March 18, 2022

WASHINGTON — The $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last week includes $75 million in Help America Vote Act grants — a major reduction compared to years past. Experts say the $75 million is insufficient to fund local elections and leaves local election offices without resources to improve election infrastructure and protect the […]

Illinois legislation would allow people to vote while serving felony sentences

By: - March 14, 2022

When Avalon Betts-Gaston was incarcerated for roughly four years, she left behind two sons — one in high school and one in elementary school.  Betts-Gaston had always been involved in their education, and she said she was angry that she couldn’t vote and choose her local school board representatives.  “I came from a very politically […]

In Houston, people in jail can still go to the polls

By: - March 10, 2022

HOUSTON — Damien Lewis had been detained in the Harris County Jail for a week. Other than the one hour a day he was allowed to walk around indoors and trips to court, he had been under quarantine and hadn’t left his cell.  But on the day of the Texas primary earlier this month, a […]

Voting snafus in Texas primary show what may be on the way for other states

By: - March 2, 2022

HOUSTON — Standing outside a polling location in the historically Black neighborhood of Kashmere Gardens on Election Day, lieutenant governor candidate Carla Brailey predicted that Texas’ performance in 2022’s first primary would gain national attention — no matter the outcome. Texas is already a model for other Republican-controlled states for its new law that makes […]

State judges across the U.S. face growing GOP pushback against rulings in election cases

By: - February 17, 2022

In mid-December, Texas’ highest criminal court revoked the state attorney general’s ability to use his office to prosecute election-related cases without the request of a district or county attorney. In an 8-1 opinion, the all-Republican court weakened Attorney General Ken Paxton’s power to independently go after perpetrators of voter fraud, a problem he says is […]

Conservative groups target state, local voter registration rolls with multiple lawsuits

By: - January 10, 2022

North Carolina’s voter rolls are like a refrigerator that needs to be cleared periodically of rotting milk and other items past their expiration date, according to Jason Snead, director of the pro-Trump Honest Elections Project. Snead is an elections advocate supporting Republican plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to force the state to more regularly maintain […]

Candidates fighting 2020 misinformation run to administer local elections

By: - December 31, 2021

As a chemist and immigrant from Vietnam, Linh Nguyen never thought she could have a role in U.S. politics. But then Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 and he “unknowingly inspired minority leaders, women of color like me, to be more actively engaged in politics,” she said. She joined the nonpartisan League of Women […]

How an election denier’s fan club got its start in the states

By: - December 16, 2021

WASHINGTON — The suddenly famous election denier behind the circulation of a PowerPoint filled with plans to overturn the 2020 election has a long history of election subversion attempts in multiple states. Retired Army Col. Phil Waldron also has close ties to former President Donald Trump’s legal team and served as one of its key […]

Activists target corporate campaign cash in battle against voting restrictions

By: - December 14, 2021

Members of the Defend Black Voters Coalition chose Detroit’s Huntington Center as their backdrop earlier this month when they issued a warning about the dangers of “voter suppression legislation” backed by Republican state lawmakers.  The building behind them, formerly known as the TCF Center, was a powerful symbol of what could happen if elections indeed […]