Victoria Bassetti

  • July 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Dan Froomkin and Victoria Bassetti, Brennan Center Contributor

    Donald Trump's contempt for women assumes many forms. His selection of nominees to serve as U.S. attorneys around the country has proven to be one of them: Of the 29 people he has nominated for U.S. attorney positions, 28 are men.

    Fully 25 are white men. There's one Asian-American woman, one African-American man, one Asian-American man and one Native American man.

  • June 13, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on the Brennan Center for Justice’s Blog.

    by Victoria Bassetti, Brennan Center Contributor

    With five investigations underway into ties between Trump associates and the Russians, it is difficult to know what each committee is doing. The Brennan Center for Justice created a guide to help you understand what each of the Trump probes is looking for and how. 

    Rarely has the phrase “you can’t tell your players without a scorecard” rung more true than in the multiple investigations of ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

    There are now five investigations into the relationships between Trump associates and the Russians. Two committees in the Senate are conducting probes, as are two committees in the House, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller, whose power is like that of a U.S. Attorney, is likely to say little unless he indicts someone.

    The Congressional committees are a different story. Some or all of them will conduct public hearings, and there likely will be no shortage of committee members willing to opine about their investigation. Yet, the average person probably does not know which committee is doing what, which committee has issued which subpoenas for what reason, and which committee has held which hearings when.

    The Brennan Center for Justice has compiled five tables that lay out what each investigation is looking at, what they have done so far and critically in the case of the Congressional committees, each panel’s rules for issuing subpoenas.

  • May 16, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on The Brennan Center for Justice’s website.

    by Victoria Bassetti, Contributor, The Brennan Center for Justice

    To special counsel, independent prosecute, special commission, select committee or regular investigate, that is the question.

    As the constitutional crisis deepens in the wake of last Tuesday’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, the quest to assure the public that Russian interference in the 2016 elections is being investigated properly is heating up. Some form of inquiry is in order. But which kind?

    To hear Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the status quo is just fine. "Today we'll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done,” he said on the Senate floor the morning after Comey was sacked.

    Yet, virtually every government watchdog group, including the Brennan Center, has called for the appointment of a special counsel, concerned that Comey’s firing has compromised the FBI and that the involvement of the purportedly recused Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the dismissal suggests continual meddling.

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants a select committee. “I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” McCain said. “The president’s decision to remove the F.B.I. director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) wants a special commission.

  • December 10, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    During his early morning re-election speech, President Obama took note of the difficulties scores of voters faced in casting ballots this year, such as standing in lengthy, slow-moving lines for hours. Something we have to fix the president said. 

    Many of the problems for voters this election year, as noted often on this blog, were created by lawmakers in a string of states apparently bent on making voting a more difficult procedure, though they cloaked the intentions in language about protecting the integrity of the vote. But a closer examination of the actions taken by those lawmakers – limiting early voting hours, clamping down on voter registration drives and implementing onerous voter ID requirements – revealed political efforts to keep certain people away from the polls, namely minorities, college students, low-income people and the elderly. See the ACS Issue Brief by Loyola law school professor Justin Levitt on many of the restrictive vote measures, which he concluded made for poor and potentially unconstitutional policy.

    The Washington Post editorial board in “Repairing America’s elections,” highlighting voting difficulties in Northern Virginia, noted in part, “Poorly trained poll workers get confused by constantly changing laws and procedures. Voter registration and record-keeping are getting more high-tech, but there are still many kinks. Many states lack policies that could take some of the pressure off, such as early voting.”

    The editorial reports that some in Congress, such as Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) are pushing a measure similar to the Obama administration’s educational “Race to the Top,” initiative. That measure, in part, would “dangle the possibility of grants to states that put together election reform programs” that include expansion of early voting and “more flexible registration rules ….”

  • November 15, 2012

    by E. Sebastian Arduengo

    For all of the grandstanding some politicians do on the virtues of American democracy, one might think that voting here would be simple and easy. Instead, as shown repeatedly here on ACSblog, it is anything but. American voters, who are more mobile than ever, have to deal with the election bureaucracies of all 50 states, which include over 13,000 election districts and 110,000 polling places nationwide. Getting registered to vote in a new location after a move can be time consuming and cumbersome. The only notable exception to the bureaucratic nightmare that is getting registered and voting in the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions is North Dakota, where citizens to not need to be registered to vote. All they need to do is show up on Election Day.

    In her book, Electoral Dysfunction, Victoria Bassetti argues that America is one of the few democracies in the world that places the burden on voters to prove that they are eligible to vote. So let’s look over our lapping shores to other lands to see how they manage the democratic process, and if there’s anything the United States can learn from their experiences.

    Our neighbors to the north and south provide us with an immediate frame of reference. In Canada voter registration is largely done by the Canadian federal government as a means of protecting the constitutional rights of Canadian citizens. The government refers to other governmental records, like tax records to keep the voter rolls continuously updated. For people that aren’t registered Canada allows for same day voter registration. The government is legally obliged to keep its voter registration list private, and information from it can only be shared with parties and candidates at the time of an election, and then only for electoral purposes. Canada also imposes strict limits on election financing, curbing the amount of money political parties can spend. Major parties like the Liberal and Conservative parties were limited to about 20 million CAD total, and in 2006 the Canadian Parliament passed a bill allowing only individuals to contribute to parties and political candidates.