Where We Are: GOP abandons all pretense of political virtue & republican values

 

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
 – Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858

 

Explore:

 

           Arizona (a State of arrested development)
           Florida (“Abandon all hope ye who enter”)
           Georgia (mocking  its State motto: “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation”?)
           Texas (Political Virtue ,Where Art Thou?)

———————

Voter suppression is not “campaign tactics.”

It is “the illegal and immoral deprivation of constitutional rights.”

– Marc Elias, election lawyer

Your State-by-State Analysis of the New Vote-Suppressing Laws

 

“Exclusive: RNC plans to recruit army of poll watchers for 2024”

Axios:

The Republican National Committee plans to recruit and train tens of thousands of poll workers and watchers in battleground states for the 2024 election, according to plans shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: It’s part of the RNC’s ongoing push to scrutinize suspected voter fraud and mobilize on-the-ground “election integrity directors” in crucial states ahead of the 2024 election.

  • Repeated audits and reviews, including from GOP-led groups, failed to find evidence of voter fraud despite former President Trump’s claims that it was widespread during the 2020 election.

Zoom in: The RNC is continuing its expansion from a “pop-up-shop style election operation” to a year-round election integrity department this year.

 

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

May 8, 2023

Election lawyer Marc Elias recently warned that “we cannot out-organize voter suppression” and that the myth that we can “minimizes the real world effects of repeated, targeted suppression laws. It shifts the burden from the suppressors to the voters. It suggests that victims of voter suppression simply need to be better ‘organized.’” 

He notes that Ohio, Arkansas, South Dakota, Idaho, and Florida have all passed voter suppression laws this year and that the new laws put in place after 2020 have worked. Minority and youth voting have dropped significantly. Since 2008, Black voting in states dominated by Democrats has increased by 1.8 points; in Republican-dominated states it has dropped by four points. In Georgia, Black participation rates dropped from 47.8% to 43.2% between 2018 and 2022. Hispanic participation dropped from 27.6% to 25.1%, and the youth vote dropped from 33% to 26%.

Voter suppression is not “campaign tactics,” Elias warns. It is “the illegal and immoral deprivation of constitutional rights.”

 

“Voting Laws Roundup: 2023 in Review”

Brennan Center:

This roundup looks back on voting laws enacted in 2023 and looks forward to the voting landscape in 2024 based on legislation already pending.

In 2023, we once again saw an unprecedented volume of state legislation changing the rules governing voting. There remains a stark divide: 14 states passed restrictive voting laws while others moved to implement changes to make voting more accessible.

All told, states enacted more restrictive laws and more expansive laws in 2023 than in any year in the last decade except for 2021, which was itself an unprecedented year. Early indicators for 2024 suggest more of the same….

 

Voting Rights Lab: The Markup

A Weekly Election Legislation Update

https://votingrightslab.org/

May 13, 2024

Today is Tuesday, May 28. We are tracking 1,758 bills so far this session across 44 states and D.C., with 307 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 879 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: The New Hampshire legislature passed a bill that, if signed by the governor, will impose strict new documentation requirements for voter registration and in-person voting. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed bills establishing safeguards against improper cancellations of voter registrations. The Louisiana legislature sent the governor a package of bills, including one that would eliminate the permanent mail voter list.

The Good News: The New Hampshire Senate passed a bill that would authorize online voter registration. A new Connecticut allows voters in nursing homes to designate a trusted individual to pick up a ballot for them. The California Assembly advanced bills that would cause the state to join ERIC, protect voters and election officials, and more. The Illinois Senate passed a bill improving their automatic voter registration process.

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The Walk of Shame:  Arizona, Georgia, Florida and Texas

 

Introduction

“In the United States in 2021, a significant part of the American right is living in a fantasy world in which Donald Trump won the November 2020 presidential election by a landslide, but has it stolen from him through massive fraud on the part of Democrats. This has led to real world consequences like the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 by a pro-Trump mob.”

“It has also led to Republican politicians in states like Georgia, Texas, Florida, and Arizona passing laws designed to correct a nonexistent problem by restricting voter access and awarding themselves the right to override election results in future polls if they fail to return Republicans as winners.”

Francis Fukuyama, Liberalism and its Discontents (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2022)

 

Letters from an American, Heather Scott Richardson

Oct. 7, 2022

The Republican Party’s shift toward authoritarianism is clear in the refusal of a majority of the party’s nominees for office this fall to agree that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

Amy Gardner of the Washington Post ran the numbers and found that 299 Republican candidates for the House, Senate, and important state offices are election deniers, and that 174 of them are running in districts that are safely Republican. 

The Republican narrative that Democrats can win only by cheating began back in 1994, after the Democrats made registering to vote easier with the 1993 so-called Motor Voter Act. In 1994, losing Republican candidates complained their opponents had cheated, and congressional Republicans kept that narrative alive with congressional investigations. Over time, “voter fraud” became the way Republicans explained away the unpopularity of their ideas.

Trump’s continuing insistence that he won the 2020 election, and the Republican Party’s embrace of that lie despite the fact that Biden won by more than 7 million votes in the popular vote and by 306 to 232 in the Electoral College, says that they will never again consider the election of a Democrat legitimate.

In Arizona, where the Republican nominee for governor, Kari Lake, has said that Biden is an illegitimate president and the Republican nominee for secretary of state, Mark Finchem, has said that he would not have certified the true 2020 election results in Arizona, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) last night at an event at Arizona State University urged Arizona voters to elect Democrats.

“If you care about democracy and you care about the survival of our republic, then you need to understand—we all have to understand—that we cannot give people power who have told us that they will not honor elections,” Cheney said.

 

How a Defunct Federal Provision Helped Pave the Way for New Voting Restrictions

Curbs on drop boxes, tougher ID requirements and purges of voter rolls would have been weakened, or never even passed, if a federal oversight system had been in place.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/26/us/politics/voting-restrictions.html?referringSource=articleShare


By Nick Corassaniti

Aug. 26, 2021

[Excerpts:]

In Georgia, a law that toughened ID requirements for absentee voting will have a disproportionate effect on Black voters, who make up about a third of the electorate. More than 272,000 registered voters lack the forms of identification that are newly required to cast absentee ballots, according to a study by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. More than half of them are Black.

“If you have a voter-ID law where a lot of people don’t have one of the IDs, that’s a red flag,” said Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and a former voting rights lawyer for the Justice Department under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

Mr. Perez, the head of the civil rights division from 2009 to 2013, recalled an Arizona bill that proposed barring third parties from dropping off absentee ballots on behalf of voters. The Navajo Nation protested that some of its communities were hours from the nearest mailbox, making the act of voting by mail an arduous one.

Read More

The Justice Department pushed back at Arizona lawmakers in preclearance. “We asked them a series of very pointed questions because we had real concerns that it was discriminatory, and they withdrew it,” he said. “As a result of the questions we asked, Section 5 worked in that case. But once Section 5 [of the Voting Rights ACT OF 1965] was emasculated in 2013, they had free rein to enact it.”

That bill, Mr. Perez noted, was similar to a new Arizona ban on ballot collection upheld in a recent Supreme Court decision.

The recent law in Arizona that removed voters from the permanent early voting list if they do not cast a ballot at least once every two years caught the eye of Deval Patrick, who led the civil rights division during the Clinton administration and later was governor of Massachusetts.

In 1994, Mr. Patrick objected to a Georgia proposal that would purge registered voters from the rolls if they failed to vote for three years unless they reaffirmed their registration status. He said the Arizona law struck him as another example of purging.

“I think purging is one of the more pernicious undertakings, and I say this as somebody who is preternaturally neat,” Mr. Patrick said. “It is easier in many states today to keep a driver’s license than it is to keep your voter registration.”

Mr. Patrick also said the preclearance process had helped prevent changes in voting rules aimed at engineering a victory.

He pointed to Georgia, where Mr. Biden won by fewer than 12,000 votes. Georgia’s new voting law prohibits the use of provisional ballots by voters who show up at the wrong precinct before 5 p.m. on Election Day. But “out of precinct” voters accounted for 44 percent of provisional ballots last year, by far the most common reason. Of 11,120 provisional ballots counted, Mr. Biden won 64 percent.

“When the margin of victory was as slim as it was, the notion that the provisional ballots might not be counted because of some very technical and frankly trivial issue, that’s a problem,” Mr. Patrick said.

Voting rights lawyers also liken new laws curbing the use of drop boxes to past attempts — blocked by the Justice Department under preclearance — to reduce the numbers of polling places or absentee-ballot locations.

In 1984 alone, for example, Reagan administration lawyers objected to the relocation of a Dallas polling place to a predominantly white community from a largely Black one, and challenged bills in Arizona that would have reduced access to polling places by rotating locations and cutting operating hours.

In Georgia, 56 percent of absentee voters in urban Fulton County and suburban Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties returned their ballots in drop boxes, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Under Georgia’s new law, those counties will now have just 23 drop boxes, compared with 94 during the 2020 election.

And in Texas last year, with roughly a month left before Election Day, Gov. Greg Abbott directed counties to offer only one location for voters to drop off mail-in ballots.

“So you had counties with four million people and it was one place essentially to drop off your ballot,” said Chad Dunn, a longtime voting-rights lawyer. “Those are provisions that would have been stopped immediately.”

 

Arizona

 

“Arizona defendant Christina Bobb plays key role on RNC election integrity team”

Amy Gardner and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez in the Washington Post:

“When conservative lawyer and media personality Christina Bobb became the latest member of Donald Trump’s inner circle to be charged for her alleged role in the effort to reverse the 2020 presidential election results, it became immediately clear she would not have to give up her day job: senior counsel to the Republican National Committee’s election integrity team.

“For some, there is a certain irony — if not outright conflict — that a leading purveyor of false claims that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud is a major player in the national GOP’s efforts to protect the integrity of the 2024 vote.

“But not for Bobb, and not for her closest allies — including Trump himself, who through a spokesman defended only Bobb by name among all the 18 individuals indicted Wednesday in Arizona. If anything, Bobb’s indictment solidifies her identity as a dedicated Trump loyalist who fiercely fought to reverse his loss in the politically competitive state and potentially elevates her role within the RNC to help him win in November.”

The article then details the role that Bobb played in the Arizona “fake electors” scheme, based on the allegations in the indictment and evidence from the House January 6 Committee.

The article then continues to discuss the potential role that Bobb might play in this fall’s election:

“Some who have left said they fear that the party’s new election-integrity operation, particularly with Bobb in its midst, will veer toward embracing unfounded conspiracy theories that alienate more moderate Republicans.

““That was a bad hire,” Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, said in a televised interview about Bobb’s new job. “Christina Bobb is part of the fringe element that I don’t think helps to build credibility, not only in our party but in the entire country.”

Stephen K. Bannon, the former senior Trump adviser, said in an interview Thursday that he recommended to the Trump team that people like Bobb and others who have strong connections to the election integrity movement be hired into the RNC because “we need that kind of will to fight — someone who is going to contest elections everywhere.”

“With direct access to Trump by phone, Bobb can also serve as a direct link between the RNC and the former president, taking his input and sharing internal strategy with him, Bannon said. But that can cut two ways if Bobb pushes the party’s election integrity operation toward activity that draws legal scrutiny, several GOP operatives said, speaking candidly on condition of anonymity.

“Until 2018, the RNC operated under a federal consent decree prohibiting the committee from participating in election-day operations — the result of a 1982lawsuit from Democrats charging the committee with trying to discourage Black voters from casting ballots through targeted mailings and positioning armed, off-duty officers at polls in minority neighborhoods.

““What we worry about is Christina Bobb going rogue and doing something dumb and us getting thrown back into the consent decree,” one GOP strategist said.

“If volunteers or campaign operatives misstep, “Marc Elias and his well-funded allies are going to try to get the consent decree reinstated, and that’s something we’re all concerned about,” said another GOP operative, referring to the Democratic elections lawyer.”

There’s more in the piece. The whole article is very much worth a read.

 

Meadows, Giuliani and other Trump allies charged in Arizona 2020 election probe

The indictments cap a year-long investigation by Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) into how the 2020 pro-Trump elector strategy played out in Arizona, which Biden won by 10,457 votes.

By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

April 25, 2024

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2024/04/24/arizona-2020-election-charges-meadows-giuliani-ellis/

 

Arizona’s Especially Worthwhile Electoral Reform Effort

A new Common Ground Democracy essay with this subtitle: “A local group is pursuing a proposal that deserves nationwide recognition as well as success at home.”

ELB readers should be especially interested in following the development of this important effort. Given Arizona’s status as one of the most hotly contested electoral battlegrounds–the only state with “toss-up” races in both its presidential and U.S. Senate elections, according to Cook Political Report (with Amy Walter)–the pursuit of this particular proposal, with its pragmatic flexibility, could serves as a model for how other states might tackle the increasing problem of partisan polarization.

 

“Ariz. Republican who stood up to Trump after 2020 won’t seek reelection”

WaPo:

After years of violent threats and harassment for accepting the results of the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county of Maricopa, the Republican who led the Board of Supervisors during the last presidential election said Thursday that he will not run for reelection.

Clint Hickman (R), 59, an egg farmer and former Trump supporter who twice refused to answer phone calls from the former president after his loss and has provided information to special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators about his experience, said his time will be better spent with his wife and kids.

Hickman, who has represented an area west of Phoenix for a decade, told The Washington Post that he will serve out his term through early 2025 and carry out his election-related duties that are part of his job through the 2024 election before stepping down.

 

A Trump ally is ready to come clean on Georgia’s fake electors. You listening, Kris Mayes?

Opinion: Prosecutors in Georgia and Michigan are putting the screws to their fake electors and election schemers. AG Kris Mayes should follow their lead.

Laurie Roberts

Arizona Republic
October 20, 2023
Well, well, well.

A key figure in the fake elector scheme took a plea deal in Georgia on Friday, agreeing to come clean about his part in the conspiracy to try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Are you seeing this, Attorney General Kris Mayes?

Trump-aligned lawyer Kenneth Chesebro wrote memos detailing how Republicans could send false slates of presidential electors to Congress in an attempt to give Donald Trump the win or at least delay the Jan. 6, 2021, certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

According to his Fulton County, Ga., indictment, one of his memos “provides detailed, state-specific instructions for how Trump presidential elector nominees in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin would meet and cast electoral votes” for Trump, even though he lost the election in those states.

Chesebro, who is pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit filing false documents, on Friday agreed to testify at any future trials of his fellow co-conspirators. He also agreed to turn over all emails and text messages to the district attorney’s office.

What does Chesebro know about Arizona?

[Boldface added]

Have got your plane ticket to Atlanta yet, AG Mayes?

It might be interesting to see what light Chesebro can shed on Arizona’s 11 fake electors.

Specifically, how they came to be meeting at state Republican Party headquarters on Dec. 14, 2020, signing documents falsely claiming to be “duly elected and qualified” to cast Arizona’s electoral votes for the guy who didn’t win.

How these “patriots” — including two who are now state senators (Jake Hoffman and Anthony Kern), the now-former chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party (Kelli Ward) and a top executive with Turning Point USA (Tyler Bowyer) — came up with the same wild idea that just coincidentally occurred to Republicans in six other swing states won by Biden.

Or how, even as those phonies were meeting in Phoenix to cast their non-existent votes for Trump, across town a group of Republican legislators were signing a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Congress urging them to accept those “alternate” electoral votes.

Or how then-Rep. Mark Finchem, one of the state’s loudest stop the stealers, hand carried the lawmakers’ request to Washington on Jan. 5, 2021, putting it into the hands of one of Trump’s strongest acolytes on Capitol Hill, Rep. Andy Biggs.

Or how Biggs, along with Reps. Paul Gosar and Debbie Lesko, then voted the next day to reject Arizona’s legitimate electoral votes.

[Boldface added]

Where does Mayes’ investigation’ stand?

This wasn’t just 11 local Arizona rubes who decided on a whim to protest Biden’s win by casting a symbolic electoral vote for Trump.

This was a carefully planned scheme, meticulously coordinated — from the seeds of doubt deeply planted to erode trust in our elections to the fake electors who were part of a plot to steal the vote in Arizona and other swing states to the storming of the nation’s Capitol to stop Joe Biden from becoming president.

And certain Arizonans appear to be in on it up to their eyeballs.

Fake electors:Had a cast of characters helping them

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear what Chesebro might know about that?

Mayes vowed during last year’s campaign to investigate Arizona’s fake electors. She reportedly assigned a team of prosecutors to the investigation in May. Dan Barr, Mayes’s chief deputy, in July told the Washington Post the investigation was in the “fact-gathering” phase.Since then, we’ve heard nothing.

Michigan is bringing charges. What about us?

Meanwhile, in Michigan, one of that state’s 16 fake electors this week agreed to testify against his fellow phonies in return for dismissal of eight felony counts, including forgery and conspiracy to publish a false statement.

The Michigan 16, just like the Arizona 11, met at their state GOP headquarters and signed documents stating they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified electors.”

“That was a lie … and each of the defendants knew it,” Michigan prosecutors said, in their charging documents.

The Michigan fake elector whose charges were dismissed has agreed to “cooperate fully” with the AG’s office, agreeing to testify at trial and key hearings and provide investigators with “any and all relevant documents.”

Michigan in July became the first state to bring charges against the fake electors.

It shouldn’t be the last.

Simply put, Arizona’s fake electors and their co-conspirators tried to steal our vote.

There should be a penalty for that.

AG Mayes, I hear Atlanta is nice this time of year.

Arizona GOP rejects single-day vote proposal, angering election deniers

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/09/01/arizona-republican-primary-election-2024/

[Excerpt:]

The battle — which is playing out within the largest voting jurisdiction in a state that will help decide the presidency and control of the U.S. Senate — follows years of vilification of voting norms by Trump and his supporters. It is a consequence of deepening dysfunction within the party on an issue that has accelerated Democratic gains in the newly competitive state.

In court, Trump supporter faces election official he violently threatened

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/08/30/arizona-2020-election-violent-threats/

PHOENIX — The election officials piled into the front row of a federal courtroom — a show of support for a local public official who has endured more than two years of attacks for his role in helping to certify Donald Trump’s loss in Arizona in 2020.

Clint Hickman’s simple act — which was required by law and his oath as chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors — resulted in hundreds of mostly anonymous threats. Hickman, a 58-year-old Republican who has served as a supervisor for a decade, says he is so tired of election denialism and hostility toward rank-and-file staff that he has not yet decided if he will run for reelection next year.

 

“Rulebook for Arizona’s 2024 elections faces criticism from multiple sides”

Votebeat Arizona.

“As Secretary of State Adrian Fontes makes rules for how next year’s elections must be run in Arizona, Republican legislative leaders say he’s overstepping his authority. Voting rights advocates say he isn’t exerting enough authority.

“The groups publicized their qualms this week with Fontes’ new draft of the state’s Elections Procedures Manual — the giant rulebook that instructs Arizona counties how to conduct elections to comply with state law. …

“Fontes’ final version will go to Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes in October, who must approve it by December for it to take effect.”

The article also reports that Republicans are threatening a lawsuit over this. Given the importance of Arizona next year, keep an eye on this.

 

“Secure ballots or boondoggle? Arizona county tailors project to politically connected firm”

Votebeat:

As an Arizona county prepares to spend up to $1 million in state money to test anti-counterfeit features on ballots, it appears the project was tailored for one company in particular that has pushed the idea with the help of political allies in the state for more than two years.

The idea of adding unique features such as watermarks to ballots is gaining steam as a way to both protect against fraudulent ballots and improve voter confidence. But because the Cochise County pilot was crafted so specifically to describe Texas-based Authentix’s products, election technology experts say it unnecessarily limits the competition for the work while testing unnecessary and expensive products that might even make ballots unreadable to vote-counting machines.

Alex Gulotta, Arizona director of voter advocacy group All Voting is Local, called the venture a “boondoggle.” 

“It’s designed specifically to benefit this particular company, and it’s solving a problem that does not exist,” Gulotta said. While Arizona’s failed GOP candidates and leaders have claimed thousands of fake ballots were inserted into Arizona’s 2020 and 2022 elections, courts have found no evidence of any.

But Cochise County supervisors are set to vote on Tuesday to contract with Authentix, as well as  one other company that applied independently. The companies say they will test ballots with features such as watermarks, invisible ink and text, and unique dyes prior to the 2024 presidential election.

A reasonable concept from unreasonable people

Hank Stephenson

July 12, 2023

The Arizona Agenda

[Excerpts:]

Back in March 2021, then-lawmaker Mark Finchem invited a company called Authentix to showcase its proposed “counterfeit-proof” ballot paper to a crew of maskless lawmakers in the poorly-ventilated state House of Representatives basement.Cochise County Recorder David Stevens provided Authentix a blank Cochise County ballot to mock-up with watermarks, QR codes and other counterfeit-prevention tools. Lawmakers who showed up to bask in the glow of watermark-illuminating blacklights¹loved the idea, as reporterJulia Shumway detailed in the Yellow Sheet Report at the time.Yesterday, after more than two years of small, incremental steps, Stevens was poised to finally launch the Legislature’s test program for counterfeit-proof ballots, which Finchem has championed as a way to stop his imagined “injection” of fake ballots in Pima County that he erroneously believes swung the 2020 election in Arizona against Donald Trump

Stevens is an affable, low-key inside player for the Stop the Steal movement who has helped push the county further into election skepticism. He and Finchem are old friends and Stevens serves as the director of Finchem’s nebulous election integrity nonprofit. Since Finchem failed to win his race for secretary of state, the Cochise County crew — including Stevens, the county’s Republican supervisors and new election-conspiracy-spreading elections directorBob Bartelsmeyer — represent the Stop the Steal movement’s beachhead into election administration in Arizona. 

This is the same group of great minds who attempted to not certify the 2022 election, then attempted to conduct a full hand recount of the county’s election until a judge shot them down. The county is still appealing.

But the truth is, we don’t see anything wrong with adding additional security measures to ballots — except, of course, that the whole goal of the people pushing for it is to reinforce the erroneous belief that counterfeit ballots are a problem and then fundraise off of it. Other states require watermarks and other money-like anti-counterfeit features, and Arizona could too.

However, as far as we’re concerned, any project that involves Finchem, Stevens and their hand-picked vendor has zero credibility and deserves detailed financial scrutiny. The board of supervisors made the responsible decision, for once, in questioning and postponing the contract. They should continue their good-judgment streak and pull the plug on this project entirely.

 

Arizona’s GOP Went All In on Trump’s Big Lie—Now It’s Broke

Losing elections, registered voters, and all its money hasn’t scared the Grand Canyon State’s Republican Party into acting normal and sane.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/arizonas-gop-went-all-in-on-trumps-big-lienow-its-broke

 

“Trump pressured Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to overturn 2020 election”

WaPo:

In a phone call in late 2020,President Donald Trump tried to pressure Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to overturn the state’spresidential election results, saying that if enough fraudulent votes could be found it would overcome Trump’s narrow loss in Arizona, according to three people familiar with the call.

Trump also repeatedly asked Vice President Mike Pence to call Ducey and prod him to find the evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims of fraud, according to two of these people. Pence called Ducey several times to discuss the election, they said, though he did not follow Trump’s directions to pressure the governor.

The extent of Trump’s efforts to cajole Ducey into helping him stay in power have not before been reported, even as other efforts by Trump’s lawyer and allies to pressure Arizona officials have been made public. Ducey told reporters in December 2020 that he and Trump had spoken, but he declined to disclose the contents of the call then or in the more than two years since. Although he disagreed with Trump about the outcome of the election, Ducey has sought to avoid a public battle with Trump.

Ducey described the “pressure” he was under after Trump’s loss to a prominent Republican donor over a meal in Arizona earlier this year, according to the donor, who like others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. The account was confirmed by others aware of the call. Ducey told the donor he was surprised that special counsel Jack Smith’s team had not inquired about his phone calls with Trump and Pence as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the former president’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, the donor said.

Ducey did not record the call, people familiar with the matter said.

Now out of public office, the former governor declined through a spokesman to answer specific questions about his interactions with Trump and his administration.

“This is neither new nor is it news to anyone following this issue the last two years,” spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said in a statement. “Governor Ducey defended the results of Arizona’s 2020 election, he certified the election, and he made it clear that the certification provided a trigger for credible complaints backed by evidence to be brought forward. None were ever brought forward. The Governor stands by his action to certify the election and considers the issue to be in the rear view mirror.”

GOP fears Kari Lake bid could cost them Arizona Senate race

[Excerpt:]

Republicans are facing a dwindling number of alternatives to mount a challenge to Kari Lake in the Arizona Senate primary, raising concerns for the party over what should be a prime pickup opportunity next year.

Lake, who narrowly lost her gubernatorial election to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) last November, is weighing a potential Senate run for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I) seat. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) has already thrown his hat in the ring, while Sinema has not yet announced whether she’s running again.

 

“ARIZONA—Maricopa County Superior Court sanctions both Mark Finchem, R, personally, and his attorney, in legal case stemming from a 2022 election contest.”

More from Ivonne Wingett Sanchez here.

 

Breaking: Kari Lake Loses Election Contest in Arizona Governor’s Race (Link to opinion)

The trial judge in this opinion found no misconduct or illegal conduct in signature verification of absentee ballots. Kari Lake loses her election contest against Katie Hobbs for Arizona’s gubernatorial race on her final remaining issues.

She can appeal, but an appeal is unlikely to succeed given these factual findings.

H/t Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

 

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

May 8, 2023

Last week, on May 4 and 5, the Conservative Political Action Conference met in Budapest for the second time, and once again, Orbán delivered the keynote address. The theme was the uniting of the radical right across national boundaries. “Come back, Mr President,” Orbán said of Trump’s 2024 presidential bid. “Make America great again and bring us peace.” Orbán claimed his suppression of LGBTQ+ rights, academic freedom, and the media is a model for the world. 

Plenty of the people there from the U.S. seemed to agree. “Hungary,” Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said, “is a beacon.” 

In a recorded message, Trump said conservatives were “freedom-loving patriots” who are “fighting against barbarians.” “We believe in tradition, the rule of law, freedom of speech and a God-given dignity of every human life. These are ideas that bind together our movement,” he said. He called for the audience to “stand together to defend our borders, our Judeo-Christian values, our identity and our way of life.”

While conference organizers were celebrating Hungary as the only truly free country in Europe, they were taking advantage of Hungary’s suppression of the media to permit only hand-picked journalists to cover the event. Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said that “truth-tellers and peacemakers” were being destroyed by “fake news,” as they call every journalist who criticizes them.  

[Boldface added]

 

The Daily Agenda: The court’s big week

March 27, 2023

 

Hobbs scored another victory as the high court shut down nearly all of her Republican gubernatorial opponent’s election complaints in an ongoing appeal that Kari Lake insists will make her the rightful governor.The court tossed six of the seven claims Lake made in her election lawsuit, sending one back to the Maricopa County Superior Court for another review. That claim centers on signature verification procedures, with Lake claiming Maricopa County isn’t properly following rules to assess voters’ signatures on mailed ballots. Lake, predictably, cast the ruling as a victory, despite the fact that a review of those procedures wouldn’t be able to show she somehow won an election she lost. Any potential signature problems would need to be mathematically proven to have altered the election outcome in order to succeed in court, the Supreme Court said in its ruling. Abe Hamadeh, who narrowly lost the AG’s race, jumped on the ruling in a new filing, saying he should get a shot at attacking signature verification, too.
Barry Markson @BarryMarkson1
Sorry, but the Supreme Court’s ruling was not a win for Kari Lake. She lost ALL of her appellate issues but one. Chain of custody, insertion of 35k ballots, printer issues, Election Day delay, disenfranchisement, all gone. One issue remanded for a decision. It’s a huge loss.
Kari Lake War Room @KariLakeWarRoom

.@AbsoluteWithE: “@KariLake finally scored a win in her election challenge against Maricopa County, Arizona & @katiehobbs but it took getting all the way to the State Supreme Court.” https://t.co/4jsUkFqKxN

Mar 23, 2023

The court also opened up the potential for sanctions against Lake, letting defendants including Hobbs and the county make a case for why the GOP contender should be sanctioned over the lawsuit and its many unsupported claims. Arizona courts have shown a willingness to consider and, at times, grant sanctions in some farcical election lawsuits, most recently dinging Secretary of State loser Mark Finchem for his election-overturning claims. Adrian Fontes, who beat Finchem handily, is seeking $67,000 in sanctions against the former lawmaker. Neither the execution issue nor the election denialism cases are truly over. Hobbs will need to figure out how or if the state will resume executions, a process that’s likely to take months now that the courts have alleviated any immediate pressure on the Gunches case. And she, and the rest of the state, will continue to face loud, angry voices who believe she couldn’t have been rightfully elected. But last week, the strongly conservative Supreme Court helped the Democratic governor on both fronts.

 

No longer rural: Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen shows how Queen Creek exemplifies a rural-urban divide that has pushed Arizona from a red state to a swing state. The town on the edge of the Valley has exploded in recent years but remains a Republican area, though Olsen said the area’s tech explosion and rapid rise likely mean it will move away from the GOP.

>Arizona Supreme Court Turns Down Kari Lake’s Appeal in Her Election Lawsuit

The justices refused to hear Ms. Lake’s claims disputing her loss in the governor’s race, but sent one part of her lawsuit back to a trial court for review.

Arizona’s Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request from Kari Lake to hear her lawsuit disputing her loss last year in the governor’s race. The lawsuit was based on what the court said was a false claim by Ms. Lake, a Republican, that more than 35,000 unaccounted ballots were accepted.

In a five-page order written by Chief Justice Robert Brutinel, the court determined that a vast majority of Ms. Lake’s legal claims, which had earlier been dismissed by lower courts, lacked merit.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/23/us/politics/kari-lake-arizona-supreme-court

Arizona governor seeks ethics review of former attorney general

The complaint to the State Bar of Arizona follows new details about how Mark Brnovich withheld records debunking claims of election fraud

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/25/brnovich-state-bar-arizona-election/

 

“The bipartisan odd couple banding together to fight election deniers in Arizona”

Politico:

Ryan RandazzoRobert Anglen

Arizona Republic

and

PublishedJan. 26, 2023; Updated Jan. 26, 2023
Former President Donald Trump publicly kept his distance from the review of Maricopa County’s 2020 election. But inside Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, his influence loomed over critical aspects of the “audit,” according to messages sent and received by the man leading the ballot recount.
New records show Trump received direct updates from people at the coliseum, his allies pressured the lead contractor on when to report findings, and that contractor asked people close to the former president if he could help pay for it. This all happened as leaders of the state Senate publicly denied Trump had any involvement in their effort.
While messages from those working on the audit indicate they intentionally kept the president at arm’s length to avoid the appearance of his influence, behind the scenes they sought Trump’s approval — and money.
In April 2021, four days before the election review began, Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan used a private messaging system to discuss taking a donation from Trump and his team surreptitiously.
“I told them there was no way I could take funds directly,” he said in the chat.
Once the audit concluded and the now-defunct Cyber Ninjas was millions of dollars in debt, Logan would lament that Trump never did directly fund his work.
“It’s my understanding that our underfunded status is known all the way up to 45,” Logan wrote to a subcontractor in a conversation about how to pay everyone. “Never talked with him, but I’ve been told the message has been received.”
Logan has released tens of thousands of personal messages he sent to supporters and subcontractors involved in the audit in response to ongoing lawsuits from The Arizona Republic and a left-leaning watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., called American Oversight.
The messages reveal for the first time how Logan worked with Trump allies to help finance the work, shape media coverage and manage day-to-day operations as teams worked to hand count 2.1 million ballots cast by county voters.
Logan for months fought the release of his personal messages, which The Republic first sought through state Public Records Law. But after a $50,000-a-day sanction for noncompliance and exhausting all appeals, Logan’s lawyer has turned over many — but not all — text and Signal messages Logan sent and received while working on the audit.
Logan on Tuesday declined to comment on the pleas for money he made through extensive communication with Christina Bobb, a former Trump lawyer and conservative broadcaster who served as a go-between for the former president.
Arizona Senate Republicans hired Cyber Ninjas to recount and inspect ballots, and the so-called “audit” confirmed President Joe Biden’s win in the state and made no concrete findings of wrongdoing by election officials. But for months it served as a marketing tool for politicians who campaigned on unproven accusations that the election was compromised.
Senate Republicans said from the outset that Trump did not push for the audit and did not provide any assistance for it, financial or otherwise.
Former Senate President Karen Fann, a Prescott Republican who hired Cyber Ninjas, repeatedly said the effort was not done to put Trump back in the White House.
“This absolutely has nothing to do with Trump,” Fann wrote in an email to a constituent days after the audit began in 2021. “The election cannot be overturned. This audit is ONLY about election integrity, answering their questions, and hopefully proving there was nothing wrong with the election.”
She reacted with surprise Jan. 19 to the newly released messages when contacted about them by a reporter. When the audit began, she said, she did not know the extent to which Trump allies were involved.
“I did not know,” she said. “Since then I have now connected the dots. … Obviously, in the subsequent months, it was very apparent.”

Trump was watching, chatting with broadcaster

Several references in Logan’s messages indicate people in Trump’s circle were closely watching Maricopa County and reporting back to the former president, who they sometimes referred to as “45.” Trump was the nation’s 45th president.
Logan in the messages discussed Trump’s interest in the work with Bobb, who was given broad access to the election review while working as a personality for the right-wing OAN Network.
Bobb worked in the Trump administration as an appointee in the Department of Homeland Security. She left in early 2020 to join OAN. But after Trump lost the 2020 election, Bobb volunteered to help his legal team challenge the results and was with his team until the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to her testimony to the congressional committee that investigated the attack.
Shortly after Trump’s loss, she helped coordinate a meeting in Arizona at which Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested the election was compromised.
Bobb continued to work as a personality for OAN and began covering the Arizona audit, where she messaged frequently with Logan. She also helped raise money for the audit through her connections to Trump and his organization.
Other media were restricted to a small press box in Veterans Memorial Coliseum — when they could get into the building at all.
Bobb at one point told Logan she would ask the Trump organization for recommendations for a lawyer to help with the audit because Logan didn’t like the lawyer recommended to him at the time.
On June 19, 2021, Logan asked Bobb if Trump would pressure Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward to donate some of the money she was raising off the audit to the actual work, which he said she had not done. Bobb said Trump liked Ward because she was an “outspoken media personality” and was unlikely to push her to fund the audit.
In this series of messages, Doug Logan talks about audit funding with Christina Bobb. Logan, founder of Cyber Ninjas, turned over tens of thousands of personal messages in response to lawsuits.
In this series of messages, Doug Logan talks about audit funding with Christina Bobb. Logan, founder of Cyber Ninjas, turned over tens of thousands of personal messages in response to lawsuits. Text Messages Provided To Arizona Senate By Doug Logan
Logan followed up, asking if Trump could press people to donate to the nonprofits set up to fund the audit.
“I will ask him. He shies away from publicly supporting the audit. I will raise the money issue with him next time we talk,” Bobb responded.
Then on June 25, Bobb discussed funding with Logan, telling him that a wire would come from “Sidney” from Defending the Republic. Trump lawyer Sidney Powell raised money after his loss through a nonprofit by that name.
“I reached out to her and she didn’t take my call. I’ll try again. If she doesn’t answer, I’ll have Trump call,” Bobb wrote to Logan.
Months later, Logan would report that Powell’s group donated $550,000 to his work.
Bobb said in a recent interview with The Republic that she didn’t officially join the Trump team until April 2022. But she did communicate with Trump about the audit.
“I knew that he was very interested in the audit,” she said. “I was never officially communicating anything on behalf of anybody.”
Often, Trump just wanted more detail than what she had shared in her news stories, Bobb said.
She said she never received funding for the audit from Trump or any organization affiliated with him.
“He was not involved in funding. I did ask. It was a no,” she said.

Messages sought updates on counting, funding

In May 2021, as the work passed the one-month mark, Logan messaged with a man named Patrick Weaver who worked on the audit. Weaver was affiliated with The America Project, one of the groups that funded Logan’s work beyond the $150,000 paid by the state.
“Any total count numbers you can give me for Abby to give to Trump?” Weaver wrote to Logan on May 25, 2021. The identity of “Abby” is unclear.
In this message, Patrick Weaver asks Doug Logan for an audit update to provide Donald Trump. Logan, founder of Cyber Ninjas, turned over tens of thousands of personal messages in response to lawsuits.
In this message, Patrick Weaver asks Doug Logan for an audit update to provide Donald Trump. Logan, founder of Cyber Ninjas, turned over tens of thousands of personal messages in response to lawsuits. Text Messages Provided To Arizona Senate By Doug Logan
Logan responded with an update on the counting.
In July, Logan messaged with Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who worked with President Trump’s chief of staff after his 2020 defeat to concoct ways Trump might stay in office.Waldron said Trump had planned to send $1 million to the audit, but Logan said he had not received it.“Payment – 1 mil – supposedly Kurt talked to trump and they got 1 mil for you,” Waldron wrote to Logan. The identity of “Kurt” is unclear.

Fann unaware of some connections to Trump

Fann acknowledged that Bobb and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani “called several times” before the audit began as part of an effort to call the election into question. But said she did not “know anything else that was going on in the background” of the ballot count.
Arizona needed the audit to assure voters there was no chicanery in the numbers, Fann said.
“My job was to make sure we had an honest election in Arizona,” she said.
She confirmed Trump called her “a couple of times” to discuss the audit as it unfolded. She said she didn’t recall him trying to exert influence over the process, but rather he asked about it.
“He told me, ‘Thank you for doing this,'” she said.
Even as Bobb reported on and raised funds for the election review — and her network was selected to livestream camera footage from the coliseum — Fann said she believed Bobb was acting only in her capacity as a news host, not a Trump surrogate.

‘Is God really going to come through?’

Logan’s lawyer has redacted several messages between him and Bobb sent during this time, despite clear orders from Arizona courts to turn over everything. Still, some of the unredacted messages show Bobb held out her connection to Trump as a way to influence Logan, who was desperate for money.
“Is God really going to come through in funding this thing?” Logan wrote to Bobb on June 26, 2021.
She replied: “I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I know in the end we win. I don’t know how we get there. But yes, in the end it will all workout.”
Logan told her that day he needed about $4.8 million more to complete the audit.
“I’ll raise with 45 again next time we talk,” Bobb replied.
The next day, Bobb messaged Logan asking if the Senate would issue a news release with his preliminary findings. Contractors had finished counting and inspecting ballots at the coliseum a few days before. It would be months before Logan made a final report.
“I’m getting a lot of concerned people calling me saying the audit will lose credibility if there isn’t some type of announcement tomorrow,” she wrote.
In this text message, Christina Bobb asks Doug Logan about a potential announcement about the audit.
In this text message, Christina Bobb asks Doug Logan about a potential announcement about the audit. Text Messages Provided To Arizona Senate By Doug Logan
Logan didn’t want to issue preliminary findings. He pushed back.
“That wouldn’t be the case if there wasn’t so much fake news that a number was expected tomorrow,” he told the reporter.
Bobb lashed out.
“I strongly suggest you don’t blame me for fake news,” Bobb wrote. “I STRONGLY suggest that.”
Bobb didn’t pretend to be an independent observer about the ballot review.
“Remember we’re on the same side,” she wrote to Logan. “If you want to fight me, we both will lose.”
Bobb said in an interview Jan. 19 she was pressuring Logan as a reporter, not on behalf of Trump.
“They needed to release the numbers. I remember that,” Bobb said. “I was holding him to the same standard that I was holding the election officials. Why don’t we have a result on election night? My personal opinion is when you are done counting, if you don’t release the numbers that looks sketchy. I’m not accusing anybody of doing anything wrong, but it raises a lot of questions.”
Asked whether she thought Logan did a good job on his final report, she said, “I don’t have a comment on that. I like Doug Logan. I think he’s great.”

 

Arizona Republicans exempt lawmakers from the state’s open-records law

After Ginni Thomas’s emails and the work of the Cyber Ninjas go public, GOP legislators retreat into secrecy

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/01/26/arizona-legislature-transparency-open-records-law/

 

“With newfound powers, statehouse Democrats race to expand voting rights”

CNN:

After strong electoral results in the midterm elections, Democrats in some key states are moving quickly this year on voting rights – pushing ambitious plans to expand access to the ballot ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

In the presidential swing state of Michigan – where Democrats have gained the governorship and both legislative chambers for the first time in roughly four decades – Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and a group of legislators recently announced a package of voting-related priorities. They range from criminalizing the harassment of election workers to carrying out a voter-approved expansion of early voting.

Newly empowered Democrats in Minnesota, meanwhile, are advancing a suite of election changes through the legislature that include instituting automatic voter registration and restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies.

And in Arizona – a battleground state where Democrats flipped key statewide offices – the new Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes recently announced plans to shift the focus of an “election integrity unit” established by her Republican predecessor from investigating voter fraud to “protecting voter access” and fighting voter suppression. [Boldface added]

 

Arizona’s new attorney general to use election fraud unit to boost voting rights

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/21/arizona-election-unit-voting-rights-attorney-general

Democrat Kris Mayes will repurpose unit created by Republican predecessor to focus on protecting voting access

A unit created under the former Republican attorney general of Arizona to investigate claims of election fraud will now focus on voting rights and ballot access under the newly elected Democratic attorney general.

The Democratic attorney general, Kris Mayes, told the Guardian that instead of prosecuting claims of voter fraud, she will “reprioritize the mission and resources” of the unit to focus on “protecting voting access and combating voter suppression”. Mayes won the attorney general’s race in November against election denier Abe Hamadah by just 280 votes, a race that went to a state-mandated recount.

“Under my predecessor’s administration, the election integrity unit searched widely for voter fraud and found scant evidence of it occurring in Arizona,” Mayes said in a statement. “That’s because instances of voter fraud are exceedingly rare.”

Mayes also plans for the unit to work on protecting election workers, who have faced threats of violence and intimidation. And she intends for the unit to defend Arizonans’ right to vote by mail, which has been attacked by Republican lawmakers and the state GOP in recent years despite being the most common way Arizonans of all political parties cast their ballots.

In 2019, the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature and then governor, Republican Doug Ducey, added about a half-million dollars in funding for an “election integrity unit” in the attorney general’s office. Since then, the unit has brought a number of legal cases, including charges against four Latina women in a rural part of the state for collecting other people’s ballots, which is illegal in Arizona.

It is not yet clear what will happen to cases currently under way, including the ballot collection charges in Yuma county, Mayes’s office said. A webpage on the attorney general’s website created to allow people to file election complaints for potential investigation is still live.

Until recently, the head of the unit under the previous Republican attorney general, Mark Brnovich, was Jennifer Wright, an attorney who had criticized Maricopa county elections and sent a letter to the county trying to investigate its elections. Wright left the office shortly before Mayes took control.

Since its inception, the unit has come under fire from Democrats who found its very existence unnecessary, called its attorneys into question, and said it played into false claims about elections. Republicans, too, criticized the unit for not going far enough on election fraud. In one notable instance, the unit investigated claims of hundreds of votes cast by people who were dead, finding just one voter among those claimed dead in whose name a ballot was actually cast.

When Brnovich sought funding for the unit, his office defended the move as a way to protect elections and debunk bogus claims of fraud.

Despite several full-time staff employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding annually, the unit has not uncovered any widespread or coordinated voter fraud. Most of the 20 cases it brought over three years target individual, isolated election law violations, like people using a dead relative’s ballot or casting a ballot despite not being eligible to vote.

In an investigation published last year, the Washington Post found that the unit’s work did not strengthen people’s trust in the voting system but instead “deepened suspicions among many of those who deny President Biden won and sapped government resources”.

Brnovich could not be reached for comment on the unit and its fate under Mayes.

Other states led by Republicans have created similar voter fraud units, some with much larger staffs than Arizona’s. A Virginia unit includes more than 20 staff who were shifted from other parts of the attorney general’s office to focus on election issues, and organizations such as the NAACP have struggled to get information on what that unit is doing. In Florida, a new office tasked with election crimes launched by Governor Ron DeSantis has led to the arrest of 20 people who had felony records who erroneously cast ballots while believing they were legally able to vote.

“Cartels” Control Arizona and Stole the Gubernatorial Election from Her, Kari Lake Claims without Evidence

Oh my:

So far, several Arizona judges have ruled against the former television news anchor turned right-wing thought leader’s case, stating she has thus far failed to prove her approximately half-point loss to Hobbs was the result of intentional manipulation of ballots.

However, Lake has remained adamant that her case—reportedly backed and funded by MyPillow CEO and prominent election denier Mike Lindell—will ultimately make its way through the appeals process to the Arizona Supreme Court.

“We don’t want to have this cartel operative, this cartel-owned goon, Katie Hobbs, sitting in the governor’s office,” Lake told former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon on his War Room podcast over the weekend.

“Our state government is controlled by the cartels right now. The Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is a cartel attorney. And the cartels completely control Arizona, and that’s not what the people voted for. We know they stole the election. We know they had intentionally sabotaged Election Day. And we’ve proved that in court, and we will continue to prove it,” she said.

 

“Appeals Court UPHOLDS Arizona’s Mail-In Voting Laws, Blasts AZGOP/Kelli Ward Arguments (READ Decision)”

AZ Law:

Arizona’s mail-in voting system is not unconstitutional, the Court of Appeals ruled today, blasting a lawsuit filed last year by the Arizona Republican Party and Chairwoman Kelli Ward. The unanimous decision upholds the previous dismissal of the case.

New legislator Alexander Kolodin had filed the case for the AZGOP, along with nationally-known law professor Alan Dershowitz. They were claiming that mail-in ballots violated the Arizona Constitution’s Secrecy Clause. Today’s decision notes that Kolodin tried to back off of their original position during both briefing and oral arguments, suggesting now that the Secrecy Clause requires a “secure restricted zone around a voter who fills in a mail-in ballot.”

The 11-page decision then blasts through three arguments made by Kolodin and Dershowitz*: (1) a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a Tennessee law allowing a 100-foot no electioneering zone outside polling places (“That holding does not suggest – let alone direct – how we interpret the Arizona Constitution’s Secrecy Clause…. (I)ts suggestions are dicta and unpersuasive in this case.”); (2) the AZ law prohibiting so-called ballot selfies taken at polling places but not in voters’ homes; and (3) a previous AZ Supreme Court observation that mail-in ballots cannot be possessed by anyone other than the intended voter.

 

“In Rejecting Voter ID Measure, Arizonans Bucked History and Surprised Advocates”

BoltsMag

“‘Furthering false narratives’: Lake, Finchem lawsuit draws sanction order from judge”

Arizona Republic:

In a blistering 30-page opinion, a federal judge ordered sanctions against the attorneys of Kari Lake and Mark Finchem in their lawsuit against voting machines, hoping to deter “similarly baseless suits in the future.”

Lake and Finchem, Trump-endorsed Republicans who failed in their bids for governor and secretary of state, filed suit in April in an attempt to block Maricopa and Pima counties from using any electronic device to cast or count votes. They asked the court to order the counties to require paper ballots and conduct a hand count of all the ballots cast.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi dismissed the suit in August, calling it full of “conjectural allegations of potential injuries.”

Before the dismissal, the five members of the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors — the defendants in the case — had asked for sanctions for the “numerous false allegations about Arizona elections” the candidates and their attorneys made in their federal complaint.

A decisive vote for democracy in Arizona

Arizonans, who pride themselves on a maverick spirit, unexpectedly delivered Democrats their best results in decades

 

Trump blasts Maricopa County after Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly defeats Blake Masters: ‘Do Election over again!’

Trump specifically mentioned Maricopa County, where votes were still being counted days after polls closed

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-blasts-maricopa-county-after-arizona-sen-mark-kelly-defeats-blake-masters-election-over-again

 

Failed Candidate Blake Masters Searches for a Scapegoat

The Peter Thiel acolyte seeks to blame his Arizona Senate miss on anything other than his own misguided campaign.

 

Democrat Katie Hobbs projected to defeat Kari Lake in Arizona governor’s race

Hobbs prevailed over a GOP star who campaigned on Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election

Election Denier Mark Finchem Projected to Lose AZ Secretary of State Race to Adrian Fontes

AZ Republic:

Adrian Fontes wasn’t popping the champagne corks just yet.

Minutes after being projected as the winner of Arizona’s secretary of state race on Friday night, he said he accepted the conclusion as ‘the media’s best estimation.”

But he was quick to add that the official determination will be made when all of the votes are properly and fully counted, a process that could take another week or so.

“I meant it when I said I respect the process,” a measured Fontes said minutes after being named the unofficial winner by The Associated Press, NBC News and CNN.

A Democrat and former Maricopa County recorder, Fontes built his campaign around a defense of the state’s electoral system, which he said has withstood the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. He oversaw the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county, which became the epicenter of conspiracy theories that the vote was rigged to hand Joe Biden the win.

His campaign was a sharp contrast to that of Republican Mark Finchem, a Trump-endorsed candidate who has denied the results of the 2020 election and suggested that he would not accept the results of the secretary of state race if he found the “slightest suggestion of impropriety.”

On Friday, Finchem wrote on social media that “the media does not decide elections, the voters do.”

Fontes said he will wait for the voters’ official decision, but expressed optimism in a positive outcome for his campaign.

“I hope this projection sticks and I plan to be a solid secretary of state for every Arizonan, not just for those who share my party affiliation,” Fontes said in a brief interview.

 

Voting Rights Lab: The Markup

A Weekly Election Legislation Update
October 31, 2022

Arizona voters seek protection from armed drop box surveillance. Responding to complaints of armed individuals surveilling voters at drop boxes in Arizona, groups filed two separate lawsuits seeking restraining orders to prevent voters from being intimidated. The defendants in one of the cases announced they would cease monitoring drop boxes, though the judge in that case has not yet ruled. The judge in the other case denied the request, citing the observers’ First Amendment rights. Plaintiffs have asked the 9th Circuit for an injunction while their appeal is pending.

 

The Daily Agenda: What is voter intimidation?

Because this sure looks like it … Dropping out before ballots are printed is better … And a juicy new legislative report.

Voter advocates scored a victory in their attempt to curtail the voter intimidation happening at ballot drop boxes in Arizona after a federal judge declined to stop the practice in a separate lawsuit last week.

This time, in the lawsuit brought by Protect Democracy on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, the plaintiffs sought a narrower injunction, saying things like carrying weapons and guns and taking videos of people and their license plates constitute illegal intimidation, rather than simply watching voters.

The narrower approach succeeded: Drop box watchers are now prohibited from going within 75 feet of a drop box, taking photos of voters who are within 75 feet, and within 250 feet, they’re not allowed to follow or engage with voters delivering ballots, or wear body armor or open carry guns. And Clean Elections USA, one of the groups behind the drop box watching, has to post statements online to indicate that depositing multiple ballots isn’t always illegal. The organization also can’t post photos or videos of people dropping off ballots to imply they’re committing crimes.

Nicole Grigg @NicoleSGrigg
BREAKING: Here is the full Written Order issued for a Temporary Restraining Order against the ballot box watchers with Clean Elections USA following voter intimidation complaints in Arizona.Watchers can’t go within 75 feet of drop boxes Armed watchers can’t go within 250 ft.
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1:52 AM ∙ Nov 2, 2022


Federal Judge Mike Liburdi, the judge for both cases, juggled First Amendment rights with voting rights. Outlawing the drop box watching entirely, he ruled in the first case, would violate constitutional rights. That case is now on appeal.

The U.S. Department of Justice weighed in on the issue in a filing in the Protect Democracy case as well, saying the groups like Clean Elections USA are likely violating federal voter protection laws.

“When private citizens form ‘ballot security forces’ and attempt to take over the State’s legitimate role of overseeing and policing elections, the risk of voter intimidation — and violating federal law — is significant,” the department wrote in the filing.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office has received more than a dozen complaints from voters so far related to the drop box watching, many of which have been forwarded to law enforcement. That’s the extent of the office’s role in the process, general counsel Amy Chan said, though the office’s perspective is that “if a voter feels intimidated, then that was voter intimidation.”

The kinds of behavior we’re seeing at these outdoor drop boxes stems far beyond what we could legally see at a polling place, where a 75-foot barrier protects voters from being photographed or filmed inside.

Election lawyers we talked to said the watchers have likely violated laws banning voter intimidation, but trying to come up with a remedy through the courts to address that intimidation can be tough. The narrower approach sought by the second lawsuit prevailed.

“The judge last week clearly addressed that issue and decided that there was just no way, or at least the parties hadn’t presented him a way, to use a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer,” election attorney Eric Spencer told us before yesterday’s ruling. “I think if the judge was presented with a scalpel, he’d be more inclined to enter an injunction.”

Rick Davis @rdavisfox10
Group calling itself Drop box initiative says they’re back out monitoring ballot drop boxes in Arizona after federal judge ruled in their favor ⁦@AZElections⁩ #fox10phoenix

11:20 PM ∙ Nov 1, 2022


In the future, though, counties may need to come up with plans for drop box locations that aren’t susceptible to such tactics, Spencer said, noting that Maricopa County already put up a fence and canvas around its tabulation center. It’s not the drop boxes themselves that are the crux of the controversy, though — it’s ballot harvesting. The Legislature could put in place stricter limits on how many ballots a person could drop off or add an enforcement mechanism in the future, Spencer said. 

The ruling comes after an intense few weeks for voters. Voter advocacy groups said they may need to start telling voters to avoid certain voting methods, like drop boxes, to limit their potential for voter intimidation. They worry that people simply won’t vote, if the convenient method they prefer is hindered by people harassing them. 

But the response to conspiracy theorists harassing people who are exercising their legal right to vote should never be to limit voting. 

And if showing up to a voting location wearing tactical gear and carrying guns — while gathering videos and photos of people in the act of voting, along with their license plates, then posting them online, implying a crime without any evidence — didn’t constitute voter intimidation, what would?

The reasonable limitations put in place by the courts will protect voters. Without such a reprimand, we feared, the drop box vigilantes would be emboldened to ratchet up their tactics.

The question is most urgent in Arizona, where two of the former president’s loyalists may well become governor and secretary of state.

The Times On Politics newsletter, a guide to the political news in Washington and across the nation

It’s a nightmare scenario for American democracy: The officials in charge of certifying an election refuse to do so, setting off a blizzard of litigation and possibly a constitutional crisis.

And there are worrying signs that the fears of independent scholars, Democrats and a few anti-Trump Republicans could become a reality. We could soon be in legal terra incognita, they said — like the days when medieval cartographers would write “Here Be Dragons” along the unexplored edges of world maps.

“It would be completely unprecedented,” said Nathaniel Persily, an elections expert at Stanford University. “I hate to be apocalyptic,” he added, but the United States could be headed for the kind of electoral chaos that “our system is incapable of handling.”

In Arizona, Kari Lake, a charismatic former television anchor, and Mark Finchem, a state lawmaker, have a very good chance of becoming governor and secretary of state. Both are ardent supporters of Donald Trump and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

On Friday, a group sponsored by Representative Liz Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the House committee investigating the Capitol assault, put $500,000 behind a television and digital ad that underscores the alarm some anti-Trump Republicans share about Lake and Finchem.

“If you care about the survival of our republic, we cannot give people power who will not honor elections,” Cheney says in the ad. “We must have elected officials who honor that responsibility.”

Another reason for the worries about Arizona in particular: Unlike in other states where Trump has promoted election-denying candidates, several of the politicians who pushed back on his calls to overturn the 2020 results will be gone.

Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who resisted Trump’s efforts in 2020, is leaving office after his term is up, as is Attorney General Mark Brnovich, an ally in that opposition. Rusty Bowers, who as the Republican speaker of the State House stood with Ducey and Brnovich, lost his primary this year for a State Senate seat. And even Brnovich, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against another election denier, Blake Masters, has shifted his tone about the 2020 election.

“Ducey was a little bit of a moderating factor,” said Marc Elias, the Democratic Party’s leading election lawyer. But Ducey was also “willing to tolerate a lot of crazy,” Elias added.

The governor is backing Lake, as is the Republican Governors Association, actions that Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist whose group is spending at least $3 million in Arizona opposing Lake and Finchem, called “despicable.” Longwell said that Lake was especially dangerous because of her ability to “talk normal to the normies and crazy to the crazies.”

What could happen if Lake and Finchem win?

The most worrisome scenario, several nonpartisan experts said, is that Finchem and Lake might refuse to fulfill the traditionally ceremonial act of “canvassing” the results of a presidential election under Arizona law, or that the governor could refuse to sign the required “certificate of ascertainment” that is then sent to Washington.

Elias’s firm, which has grown to nearly 80 lawyers, would then have to decide whether to sue in state or federal court, or perhaps both, depending on which path was more relevant. But he acknowledged some uncertainty about how that litigation might play out.

One new factor in 2024 may be an overhauled Electoral Count Act, which is expected to pass Congress after the midterms. It would create a new panel of three federal judges who would rule on election-related lawsuits, with appeals going directly to the Supreme Court. Proponents say the new panel would allow disputes to be adjudicated more quickly.

“It’s not actually all that easy to anoint the loser of an election the winner,” cautioned David Becker, the director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a nonpartisan group.

“The one exception to that is the presidential election,” Becker said, in which there’s an opportunity for a “corrupt individual” to send a slate of electors to Washington that does not reflect the will of voters. If the national Electoral College results were close, a protracted dispute in Arizona could hamper Congress from rapidly determining the overall winner.

But Becker said he was more worried about the prospect for political violence fueled by uncertainty than he was about the integrity of the legal system.

Neither Lake nor Finchem responded to questions. Finchem has said he would certify the next election “as long as all lawful votes are counted and all votes cast are under the law,” while failing to specify what he means by “lawful.” Finchem has also said that he couldn’t imagine President Biden winning.

Secretaries of state also have enormous power over elections, though it’s county officials that actually run them.

To take just one recent example: Finchem and Lake both support a return to hand-counting ballots, which election experts say would introduce more errors and uncertainty into the process.

One rural Arizona county controlled by Republicans, Cochise County, initially planned to count every vote in the midterms by hand — only to back down when Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state who is running for governor against Lake, threatened to sue.

In neighboring Nevada, another G.O.P.-controlled county’s plan to count ballots by hand is on hold after the State Supreme Court ruled the process illegal. The Republican secretary of state, Barbara Cegavske, then ordered the hand-counting process to “cease immediately.” Her possible successor, the Trump-backed Jim Marchant, might have acted differently.

One of the Arizona secretary of state’s chief tasks is assembling the elections procedures manual that, once approved by the governor and the attorney general, is distributed to county and local officials. Brnovich refused to accept the 2021 manual proposed by Hobbs, so the state has been using the 2019 edition.

The manual is limited to the confines of Arizona election law. But Finchem could tinker with the rules regarding the approval of voter registration, or ballot drop boxes, in ways that subtly favor Republicans, said Jim Barton, an election lawyer in Arizona. He could also adjust the certification procedure for presidential elections.

“You can imagine a lot of mischief with all the nitty-gritty stuff that nobody pays attention to,” said Richard Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Looming over all this is a Supreme Court case on elections that is heading to oral arguments this fall.

The justices are expected to rule on a previously obscure legal theory called the independent state legislature doctrine. Conservatives argue that the Constitution granted state legislatures, rather than secretaries of state or courts, the full authority to determine how federal elections are carried out; liberals and many legal scholars say that’s nonsense.

If the court adopts the most aggressive version of the legal theory, Persily noted, it could raise questions about the constitutionality of the Electoral Count Act, adding a new wrinkle of uncertainty.

“My hair is on fire” to an even greater degree than it was in 2020, said Hasen, who published a prescient book that year called “Election Meltdown.”

 

Arizona’s Bulwark Against Trumpism Was Just a Mirage

Arizona resisted election denialism in 2020. What will happen in 2022?

 

“YOU’LL LOSE IF YOU GO SOFT”: DONALD TRUMP WANTED BLAKE MASTERS TO LIE MORE ABOUT THE 2020 ELECTION

“I’m not going soft,” the Arizona Republican assured the former president, who told Masters to be more like Kari Lake, per footage from a newly released Fox News documentary.
Oct. 26. 2022

 

The justice’s “administrative stay” of a subpoena for an Arizona Republican’s phone records was not an indication of how the Supreme Court would rule.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/26/us/politics/kagan-jan-6-subpoena-supreme-court.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare

WASHINGTON — Justice Elena Kagan on Wednesday temporarily blocked a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol for phone records of Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party.

Justice Kagan, who oversees the appeals court that refused to block the subpoena, issued an “administrative stay” meant to preserve the status quo while the Supreme Court considers the matter. As is the court’s practice, she gave no reasons.

Justice Kagan ordered the committee to respond to Ms. Ward’s emergency application by Friday. That was an indication that the full court would rule on the matter.

Inquiries into efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election have given rise to all sorts of litigation, but relatively little of it has reached the Supreme Court. That may be changing. The justices are also considering whether Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, must answer questions from a special grand jury in Georgia investigating efforts to overturn former President Donald J. Trump’s election loss in the state.

In Ms. Ward’s case, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, rejected a request from her and her husband to block a subpoena seeking metadata information about calls placed between November 2020 and January 2021. The subpoena did not seek information about the content or location of the calls.

Ms. Ward argued that the subpoena infringed on her First Amendment right to freedom of association.

The members of the majority — Judge Barry G. Silverman, appointed by President Bill Clinton, and Judge Eric D. Miller, appointed by President Donald J. Trump — wrote that Ms. Ward had not met her burden.

“Ward participated in a scheme to send spurious electoral votes to Congress, a scheme that the committee describes as ‘a key part’ of the ‘effort to overturn the election’ that culminated on Jan. 6,” the two judges wrote.

They added that Ms. Ward had invoked her Fifth Amendment rights when the committee sought to question her. “Having attempted the less intrusive method of asking Ward directly,” the two judges wrote, “the committee has a strong interest in pursuing its investigation by other means.”

The majority said the subpoena did not appear to affect political activities.

“There is little to suggest that disclosing Ward’s phone records to the committee will affect protected associational activity,” the two judges wrote, adding: “This subpoena does not target any organization or association. The investigation, after all, is not about Ward’s politics; it is about her involvement in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, and it seeks to uncover those with whom she communicated in connection with those events.”

In dissent, Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, appointed by President George W. Bush, said the majority had given insufficient weight to the couple’s constitutional rights. “The communications at issue here between members of a political party about an election implicate a core associational right protected by the First Amendment,” Judge Ikuta wrote.

[Boldface added]

Blake Masters Is the Most Dangerous Candidate in America

What makes Arizona’s GOP Senate hopeful such a threat is that unlike a lot of other far-right politicians, he really believes what he’s saying.

As more states create election integrity units, Arizona is a cautionary tale

Over three years, a high-profile investigation team found little fraud, sapped government resources and deepened suspicions

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2022/09/26/arizona-election-integrity-unit/

 

An Arizona knife-maker says critics who call him racist are ‘dumb f****ing c***s.’ GOP politicians have lined up to do his podcast.

Greg Medford’s podcast has been a campaign stop for many Republicans to rail against liberals, the poor, people of color and culture war issues

BY: 

SEPTEMBER 27, 2022 

An Arizona knife-maker says critics who call him racist are ‘dumb f****ing c***s.’ GOP politicians have lined up to do his podcast.

 

As more states create election integrity units, Arizona is a cautionary tale

Over three years, a high-profile investigation team found little fraud, sapped government resources and deepened suspicions

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2022/09/26/arizona-election-integrity-unit/

 

The battle over ‘the big lie’

This November, voters will decide the future of American elections. Arizona is ground zero

https://www.deseret.com/magazine/2022/9/21/23355227/big-lie-arizona-election-stop-the-steal-future-voting

[Excerpts:]

Rusty Bowers is a worried man.

Bowers is a lifelong Republican and a staunch conservative who regularly votes along party lines on issues like taxes and abortion. He holds a 92 percent rating from the NRA, a 20 percent rating from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and abysmal reviews from environmental organizations like the Sierra Club. Unlike some prominent members of the GOP, he supported former President Donald Trump throughout his term in office, though it ended on a sour note. “He did some good for this country, for which I’m grateful,” Bowers says, “but he’s unfit to serve as our president.”

Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona — one of several swing states that sealed his loss — forced Bowers to choose between loyalty to his party and fundamental principles like honesty and respect for the rule of law. Appearing before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol in June, Bowers testified that Trump’s legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, pressured him to allow a committee to hear unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud with the goal of persuading legislators to replace Biden’s electors with Trump loyalists. When they offered no evidence to support the maneuver, Bowers refused, even after Giuliani cajoled him, asking, “Aren’t we all Republicans here?”

Bowers stood on principle and paid for it, becoming a target for Trump backers on every level. Protesters harassed him for two years, gathering outside his home, making vile and unfounded accusations. Trump campaigned against him in the race for state senate, calling him a “Republican in Name Only.” About a month after his testimony, Bowers lost the primary to David Farnsworth. Both men are members of the same party and religion. But one publicly supported Trump’s election claims and the other did not. Bowers wasn’t alone. Most of the state’s mainstream GOP fell to a slate of like-minded individuals — including a former TV news anchor who became the party’s gubernatorial candidate in her first-ever run for office — in a stunning rebuke to those who chose country over party, which could well end Bowers’ political career.

Still, his worries aren’t personal. Bowers’ defeat was part of a nationwide battle for the soul of the Republican party, widely seen as a proxy contest between Trump and his former Vice President Mike Pence. The Trump wing leveraged the unfounded claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen to argue that democracy can only be saved if their faction takes over the machinery of elections themselves — especially in swing states. The mainstream continues to trust the nation’s electoral infrastructure and wants to get back to winning elections the old-fashioned way. Now, the general ballot in November could reshape the future of American elections.

Some call it “the steal,” others “the big lie.” Facing unfavorable polls in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, Trump started to claim the voting was already rigged. He kept it up on Election Day and throughout the aftermath as votes were being counted, revealing that he had lost. But the willingness to back or even expand on his increasingly wild claims — that dead people and non-citizens voted against him; that poll workers stashed crates full of ballots; that hardware manufactured in China was hacked to turn voting machines against him — soon became a loyalty test for Republicans to stay on his side and hold onto his potent endorsement. 

Arizona was one of several swing states that tilted the election in favor of Joe Biden, who took the state by just over 10,000 votes. It subsequently became one of the states where Trump and his legal team took their allegations of fraud to court — where they consistently lost — and leaned on different levers of power within the state trying to manufacture a more favorable outcome. That effort failed in the short term but spawned a new strategy to put allies in charge of those levers. This November, Arizona is one of five states with election deniers running for all three statewide posts that oversee or influence elections. 

It can be difficult to discern whether candidates are sincere in their belief that elections have become corrupt or are cynically leveraging a position that can help them to win office — as some still hope. Either way, the idea of taking over the process itself is not entirely original. 

Political machines of the past have dominated elections in certain American cities for periods of time, doling out patronage and making local deals to hold onto the levers of power; think Tammany Hall in 19th century New York or the Chicago Democratic machine for most of the 1900s. But today’s movement to seize control of national elections is unprecedented in scope, and perhaps more reminiscent of the maneuvers used by democratically elected strongmen in countries like Hungary, whose authoritarian president, Viktor Orban, headlined the recent CPAC conference.

“We haven’t had to worry before, at least in modern American history, that election administrators might not run elections fairly, and might try to subvert the results to benefit one side or another,” says Rick Hasen, director of UCLA’s Safeguarding Democracy Project and one of the country’s foremost experts on election law. “But that’s now a real threat that’s on the table. And we’re gonna have to figure out how to address it.” 

The strategy is reshaping state and local campaigns in curious ways. Beyond prominent offices like governors and legislators — whose influence is a little more obvious — certain down-ballot races are drawing a higher profile than ever, precisely because they play a role in election integrity. And because the emphasis is on loyalty to the former president, some candidates have resumes that might seem surprising. 

campaign ad for the Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state offers an interesting case study. On screen, he slides on a white cowboy hat — posturing as a man of action — over wire-framed glasses and a bushy mustache. Ads are rare this far down the ballot, but this man is lucky enough to let a former president speak for him. “He is tough as hell,” Trump says. “Mark Finchem had the courage to hold the hearings that led to the Arizona audit,” a voiceover artist adds. “Mark Finchem is the election integrity fighter we need, now.” 

A member of the Arizona House since 2015, Finchem is also a member of Oath Keepers, a nationwide militia. As of this writing, that group’s leader and seven other members were awaiting trial in federal court on seditious conspiracy charges, among others, for their alleged role in the insurrection of January 6, 2021. At least three more had already pleaded guilty. Prosecutors say the group kept a “death list” of officials who oversaw the Georgia elections in 2020, which Trump lost, and brought explosives to Washington, D.C., for potential use during the uprising. Finchem was there, too, photographed among the mob at the Capitol steps and tweeting a photo of his own. That same month, he posted a “treason watch list” on his Pinterest account featuring Barack Obama, Janet Napolitano and other prominent Democrats. On his website, a banner declares: “Sign the petition to decertify and set aside AZ electors.” 

Four Ballot Measures Threaten to Undercut Direct Democracy in Arizona and Arkansas

The ballot initiative process has come under assault nationwide by Republican lawmakers.

Quinn Yeargain

 September 21, 2022

Four Ballot Measures Threaten to Undercut Direct Democracy in Arizona and Arkansas

[Excerpts:]

Just weeks ago, voting rights activists felt good about strengthening democracy in Arizona. They had gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures for a ballot measure to implement same-day voter registration and protect mail-in ballots. And a dispute over whether organizers submitted enough signatures was initially resolved in their favor by a county judge—only to be reversed by the state’s conservative supreme court, which kicked the initiative off the ballot.

Instead Arizona’s ballot will feature a trio of measures that would significantly undercut direct democracy and future initiatives. All were referred to voters by the GOP-run legislature.

The coalition behind the voting rights initiative, Arizona for Fair Elections, cried foul over the elimination of its measure while the three others got to proceed. “Certain politicians have been intentionally trying to attack the ballot measure process for over a decade to prevent voters from being able to make decisions about Arizona’s future at the ballot box,” it said in a statement.

Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, a national organization that supported the successful initiatives to increase the minimum wage in both Arizona in 2016 and Arkansas in 2018, is now fighting the latest ballot measures in each state. “If passed, these restrictions would further entrench minority rule in our political system and likely block popular policies from passing,” she told Bolts. “It’s absolutely essential that we protect the ballot measure tool so that people can continue to make progress when their elected officials will not.”

Ballot measures have come under assault nationwide, as Republican leaders have made parallel moves in many states to trip up voter-initiated referendums. The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center has tracked the introduction of dozens of bills in recent years, many of which have become law. Some of the more onerous restrictions imposed new geographic distribution requirements for petition-gathering, which tends to reduce the power of cities, or they made petition gathering far more impractical.

Arizona’s state constitution contains strong protections that prevent some of this gamesmanship. Most significantly, it severely constrains the state legislature’s power to repeal or amend statutes initiated and approved by voters. Lawmakers are prohibited from modifying any voter-initiated statute unless their change “furthers the purpose” of the statute itself; this shield was included in the Voter Protection Act, a voter-initiated constitutional amendment that passed in 1998. In addition, and unlike many states, Arizona has no requirement that initiatives be limited to a “single subject,” which opens the door for ballot measures that propose sweeping changes.

But the three constitutional amendments that state Republicans are proposing would upend this system. The first, Proposition 128, would amend Arizona’s constitution to widen the circumstances under which lawmakers may repeal or amend a ballot measure—even after it has already gained the electorate’s support.

The proposition would enable the legislature to change a ballot measure when courts strike down any part over it. Proponents say lawmakers’ hands are currently tied when it comes to fixing an initiative when that happens. Opponents answer that the proposition would give politicians wide latitude to intervene as they could amend any section of a text if one part is struck down. Athena Salman, a Democratic state Representative, called it that the change is “a very sneaky way to undermine the Voter Protection Act without actually having to repeal the Voter Protection Act.”

The second, Proposition 129, would impose a “single subject” requirement for all voter-initiated measures; it would impose no such requirement on amendments proposed by the legislature. Many state courts have applied similar requirements harshly—the South Dakota supreme court last year struck down an initiative that legalized marijuana on this basis—which may provide Arizona’s high court, which the GOP has packed in recent years, with another tool to invalidate voter initiatives. The third, Proposition 132, would raise the approval threshold from 50 percent to a supermajority of 60 percent for voter-initiated measures that would raise taxes.

 

“Arizona’s Supreme Court blocks an election reform ballot measure, voiding over 238,000 petition signatures.”

NYT:

Arizona’s ballot in November will exclude a sweeping election reform proposition after the state Supreme Court upheld a decision to throw out the majority of the nearly half-million petition signatures collected.

The measure would have checked the power of the state Legislature to overturn the results of a federal election, as Republican allies of former President Donald J. Trump attempted to do after he lost to Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020 in the battleground state.

It also would have established same-day voter registration in Arizona, restored a permanent early voting list that Republicans repealed last year and prohibited partisan audits like those initiated by state lawmakers.

In a two-page order signed on Friday by Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed a lower court judge’s earlier decision to reject more than 238,000 signatures from the petition to place the measure on the ballot.

To qualify for ballot access, the signatures of 237,645 Arizona voters were needed to support the measure — and more than 475,000 signatures were collected by a coalition of groups aligned with Democrats. But an onslaught of challenges followed from conservatives, including those with ties to Mr. Trump, with the petition drive falling short by 1,458 signatures and supporters of the measure decrying the ruling.

“What we’re seeing here is the result of 20 years of Republican efforts to chip away at democracy in Arizona,” Stacy Pearson, a spokeswoman for the coalition supporting the ballot measure, said in an interview on Tuesday.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a conservative group that challenged the signatures and whether petition circulators enlisted as part of the effort had complied with the state’s rules, called the measure a “radical” election initiative.

Kory Langhofer, a lawyer for the group, said in an email on Tuesday that the invalidated signatures included 20,000 duplicates.

“These cases are extraordinarily difficult for the courts and litigants alike,” Mr. Langhofer said. “They involve hundreds of thousands of signatures and must be resolved in a few weeks, before ballots print. Given those hurdles, only sophisticated clients can bring or defend cases like this.”

The measure’s opponents included a Republican-backed election law group called Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, which is led by Derek Lyons, a former White House counsel for Mr. Trump.

The group, whose board members include William P. Barr, an attorney general under Mr. Trump, described the election reform package as a “liberal wish list of election integrity-destroying measures.”

Democrats who backed the initiative accused the Arizona Supreme Court of defying the wishes of voters and noted that five of its seven members were appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who opposed the measure and earlier expanded the court.

 

The Big Lie Messengers Who Carry a Badge and Gun

Arizona’s Mark Lamb and a network of far-right sheriffs around the country are partnering with leading purveyors of election fraud conspiracies, part of an escalating campaign to police the vote.

Jessica Pishko    |    August 24, 2022

boltsmag.org/true-the-vote-sheriffs

 

Democratic senator says that Arizona GOP has ‘dangerous ideas’

[Excerpt:]

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) said on Sunday that members of his state’s Republican Party have “dangerous ideas.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” anchor Jake Tapper asked Kelly about his thoughts on the state’s GOP with regard to candidates running for office who have denied that President Biden was legitimately elected or suggested that their political opponents be jailed.

“Well, unfortunately, I think right now that the folks you mentioned have some really dangerous ideas, and they’re not consistent with most Arizonans, even most Republicans in Arizona,” Kelly told Tapper. 

“So I’m hoping we can move away from that. My Republican colleagues that I talk to in the United States Senate, I mean, these are good, good people, by and large, who are working really hard,” Kelly added. “And they don’t need those dangerous ideas in the United States Senate.”

Kelly’s remarks come after a new Fox News poll showed that the lawmaker has an 8-point lead over his Trump-backed challenger in his state’s Senate race. Fifty percent of respondents said they support Kelly, while 42 percent said they back Masters. 

“Rightwing sheriffs’ groups ramp up drives to monitor US midterm elections”

The Guardian:

Two groups of rightwing sheriffs that echo some of Donald Trump’s false claims about widespread voting fraud in 2020 are ramping up drives to monitor this year’s elections for potential voting and election fraud.

The two Arizona-led groups together boast over 350 sheriffs as members nationwide, and have forged various ties with Texas-based True the Vote, which has a history of making unverified claims of voting fraud, spurring watchdogs and law enforcement veterans to voice alarms of looming threats to voting rights and election workers.

The burgeoning sheriffs’ drive to investigate so-called voting fraud was evident at a secretive Arizona meeting on 13 August that drew a crowd of some 200 allies, including former sheriff Richard Mack and current sheriff Mark Lamb, who each lead sheriffs’ groups. The True the Vote chief, Catherine Engelbrecht, arranged the event, Mack told the Guardian.

The gathering lasted about seven and a half hours and featured talks by Engelbrecht and Lamb, the sheriff of Pinal county, Arizona, who teamed up in June to create ProtectAmerica.Vote. to promote a larger role for sheriffs in election monitoring, said Mack.

“I totally support what they’re doing,” said Mack, who leads the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which has thousands of members around the country, including hundreds of sheriffs.

The event, to which Mack invited several of his staff and two former law enforcement officials, provided “more evidence of quite extensive election fraud”, said Mack. “There’s no way anyone in this country should be trusting computers to tabulate votes.” The meeting, which was covered live by the conservative Right Side Broadcasting Network, was held at a venue “ that was very surreptitious”, added Mack, former sheriff of Graham county, Arizona.

 

The Arizona Republican Party’s Anti-Democratic Experience

First, it turned against the establishment. Now it has set its sights on democracy – the principles, the process and even the word itself.

By Robert Draper

August 15, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/15/magazine/arizona-republicans-democracy

 

New State Laws Hit Voters of Color Hardest

August 17, 2022

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/new-state-laws-hit-voters-color-hardest<

Since the January 6 insurrection, dozens of states have enacted restrictive voting laws. Race played a big role in where these measures were introduced and passed, and their effects will fall especially hard on voters of color.
Two laws — one in Arizona and one in Georgia — demonstrate how the legislation will disproportionately impact communities of color, making it more difficult for them to vote.
Before Arizona legislators passed Senate Bill 1485 last year, registered voters could sign up to automatically receive a mail ballot for every election. Whether or not the voter actually participated, they could still count on getting a ballot for the next contest, which made voting easier.
Though the new law won’t be in effect for the midterms, in the future, voters will be booted off the mail voting list if they go four years without casting a mail ballot — even if the state has no reason to think they’ve moved or are otherwise ineligible.
Our analysis shows that this change will have major, racially disparate effects. Latino and Black voters on the mail voting list are more than twice as likely to be at risk of removal as white voters. The changes spell problems for the state’s large Native American community too: Arizonans who reside on tribal lands are twice as likely to be at risk of being dropped from the mail voting list as those living elsewhere. While it’s important to note that these voters wouldn’t be “purged” — they could still vote in person or renew their request for a mail ballot — low-frequency voters might not realize they didn’t receive a mail ballot until it’s too late to get to a polling place.
The situation is another reminder of how the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which would likely have prevented many of these laws from taking effect, has hurt the most vulnerable voters. Only Congress can fix this mess, and the time until the midterms is ticking away.

 

DOJ Challenges AZ Voter Registration Law

From the press release:

The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona challenging voting restrictions imposed by House Bill 2492 (2022), a recently-enacted law set to take effect in January 2023. The United States’ complaint challenges provisions of House Bill 2492 under Section 6 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) and Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964….

The United States’ complaint contends that House Bill 2492 violates the NVRA by requiring that applicants produce documentary proof of citizenship before they can vote in presidential elections or vote by mail in any federal election when they register to vote using the uniform federal registration form created by the NVRA. This requirement flouts the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Ariz., Inc., 570 U.S. 1 (2013), which rejected an earlier attempt by Arizona to impose a similar documentary proof of citizenship mandate on applicants seeking to vote in federal elections. The United States’ complaint also contends that House Bill 2492 violates Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act by requiring election officials to reject voter registration forms based on errors or omissions that are not material to establishing a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot.

Tuscon.com has this story, and the Hill this one.

 

Indicted Election Denier Tina Peters Loses Her Own Election—and Denies She Lost

“It’s not over,” Tina Peters said, as she was down by 15 percentage points.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/mesa-county-clerk-tina-peter-loses-race-for-colorado-secretary-of-state?

https://www.brennancenter.org/about/staff/will-wilder

 

The Daily Agenda: Time to vote on voting

May 18, 2022

There’s bad policy, and then there’s bad policy … Complaints beget complaints … And Gila monsters are mostly chill.

Early this year, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers drew a line in the sand between sanity and election denialism, declaring that the latter had no place in the Arizona House.Yesterday, he allowed a half-dozen of Republican-backed election bills to reach the House floor for a vote, but not the ones that election deniers want.The six bills represent the spectrum of what should be considered up for debate at the Capitol: Some are sound policies that will help instill confidence in elections (for those willing to listen), while others are based on the election fraud narrative but are relatively reasonable public policy nonetheless.But none of the ideas seek to overturn past or future elections, eliminate early and mail-in voting or promote absurd ideas like one-day, in-person voting.And in that respect, the Arizona House deserves some praise. Debating policy — even what we’d consider “bad” policy — is fair game. Trying to take away peoples’ ability to choose their own leaders is not.Some of the bills received support from Democrats. Others failed, though only because not enough Republicans were present to vote for them. We expect to see those bills return and pass.

Mary Jo Pitzl @maryjpitzl

Hiatus in the House: Adjournment was delayed as leadership sent @Arizona_DPS in search of Reps. Jake Hoffman and @electjacqparker . The two Republicans had left early and their absence meant there weren’t enough votes to pass three election-related bills

May 17th 2022

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Here’s a brief synopsis of the bills:

  • Senate Bill 1008 would increase the margin of victory needed to avoid a recount. Right now, Arizona’s margin is so low, we can only recall two (legitimate) recounts in recent memory. This bill would increase the workload for Arizona’s already-overtaxed elections officials, as VoteBeat’s Jen Fifield notes, but it sure beats a neverending audit.
  • SB1170 would require the Arizona Department of Game and Fish to offer to register someone as a voter when they receive a hunting license. Lawmakers actually approved the policy last year as part of the budget package that was struck down in “the battle of the BRBs.” It’s a partisan move that Republicans expect to benefit their side, but hey, it’s registering more voters. Even Democratic secretary of state candidate Adrian Fontes likes it.
  • SB1362 would allow voters to scan their mail-in ballots directly into tabulation machines if they show up on Election Day and show ID. Right now, elections officials face a huge backlog of early mail-in ballots that are dropped off on Election Day and tabulated after the fact. These “late early ballots” are a pain in the ass for elections officials.
  • SB1477 would require the clerk of the Superior Court in each county to send monthly updates about who has been convicted of a felony and require county recorders to cancel those voter registrations.
  • SB1013 would require Arizona officials to ask the federal government to change the requirements on the federal voter registration form to include proof of citizenship, as the Arizona form does, unlike the likely unconstitutional tactic to achieve the same goal that lawmakers already approved this year.
  • And SB1329 would require county elections officials, when possible, to count the remaining ballots awaiting tabulation before they stop tabulating ballots on election night.

But the alt-reality right’s vindictiveness was on full display in the House yesterday as a group of election-deniers attempted to kill SB1329 because it was sponsored by Republican Sen. Paul Boyer, the most vocal Republican senator who stood to his party’s lies about the 2020 election. Republican Rep. John Fillmore and his fellow election deniers voted against the bill, trashing Boyer for failing to pledge fealty to the Big Lie and claiming his bill wouldn’t help solve the problem of election fraud.

Nathan Brown @NateBrownNews

A handful of Republicans are voting against SB1329. Fillmore says the bill’s sponsor, Boyer, is responsible for killing 13 of the 14 elections bills that have died in the Senate this year. #AZLeg

May 17th 2022

And therein lies the rub. As every single court case, partisan audit and independent review has shown, Arizona doesn’t have a widespread problem with election fraud. We have a widespread problem about the perception of election fraud.Unfortunately, all the recounts and other confidence-boosting mechanisms that lawmakers put in place will never be enough to convince those like Fillmore who simply want to overturn results of elections they don’t like.

 

Colorado: “Judge bars indicted official Tina Peters from overseeing 2022 elections”

WaPo:

 

“‘Audit’ records show Cyber Ninjas went deep into debt, despite pro-Trump donations”

AZ Mirror:

 

The Democratic National Committee and the Arizona Democratic Party are planning a lawsuit over a law in Arizona that demands further proof of citizenship to register to vote, creating a bifurcated system in the state for voters casting a ballot in federal elections.

April 29, 2022

https://www.politico.com/minutes/congress/04-29-2022/happening-today/

 

“Arizona AG Mark Brnovich’s letter offers no proof of 2020 election fraud”

[Excerpt:]

AP:

Arizona’s Republican attorney general issued an interim report Wednesday on his review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County that outlined his concerns with some election procedures but did not provide proof of any major issues despite six months of investigation.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is in a tough GOP primary for U.S. Senate, largely reiterated concerns raised by a widely panned election review conducted last year by supporters of former President Donald Trump on behalf of state Senate Republicans.

Brnovich is courting Trump’s endorsement for his Senate run, which would give him a significant boost in a field with no clear Republican frontrunner to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

From: Arizona Agenda <arizonaagenda@substack.com>
Date: April 7, 2022
Subject: The Daily Agenda: If you wanna make laws, join the Legislature
[Excerpts:]

Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Brnovich tweeted out a 12-page “interim report” on his investigation into the Cyber Ninjas’ claims yesterday that went hard at the top, saying he has “uncovered instances of election fraud” and discovered “serious vulnerabilities” in our elections system that “raise questions about the 2020 election in Arizona.”

But the 11 remaining pages quickly fizzle into what liberals and MAGAs both mocked as a press release seeking to bolster his slipping position in the U.S. Senate GOP primary.

Twitter avatar for @jim_lamonJim Lamon @jim_lamon

.@brnoforaz’s Election Integrity report is a “Nothing Burger” despite having the Maricopa Ct audit findings on his desk for 6 mos. Arizona voters want a “Get Stuff Done” US Senator – they are with Jim Lamon. Brno’s own polling shows Lamon surging & now leading by 6 points.

Image

Mark Brnovich @brnoforaz

“The 2020 election in Maricopa County revealed serious vulnerabilities that must be addressed and raises questions about the 2020 election in Arizona.” https://t.co/Ao5AJyYW0S

April 6th 2022

3 Retweets9 Likes

To be clear, those instances of “election fraud” he mentioned are the routine attempts at fraudulent voting by individual voters — mostly snowbirds voting in two states or people voting for a deceased family member — that happen, and are prosecuted, in every election. They’ve already been reported, and they have nothing to do with the investigation at hand.

But after you read past the splashy first page, his report is most telling for what it doesn’t say. Brovich’s report does not cite a single other criminal act. And it doesn’t claim there was any widespread fraud.

And as Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer pointed out in a Twitter thread, it doesn’t say anything about the many hours his team spent debunking countless conspiracies about data deletion, internet connectivity and Splunk logs spread by the Cyber Ninjas’ report, which formed the basis for Brnovich’s investigation.

In fact, Brnovich’s report doesn’t use the words “Cyber Ninjas” once. 

Here’s what the document does say, in each of the four material sections, which Brnovich proposes new laws to address because nothing he cites is illegal:

  • The county isn’t turning over documents to him fast enough. 

While noting that this kind of large-scale investigation could take “many months if not years” Brnovich condemned Maricopa County for striking a “combative and/or litigious approach” to turning over public records, saying they’re slowing him down. (We still have an outstanding public records request with Brnovich’s office from before we launched this publication. Glass houses.)

His solution: Pass a bill to give him civil subpoena power.

  • Early voting signatures are verified too fast and not enough were rejected.

Without explaining how he came to the figure, Brnovich declares that on one day, elections officials in Maricopa County verified early ballot signatures in just 4.6 seconds on average. (The county, in its response, said Brnovich grossly miscalculated.) He also copied and pasted a section of his brief in the failed AZGOP lawsuit to kill off early voting that argued that former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes rejected fewer ballots than his Republican predecessor. County officials were quick to note that Brnovich didn’t identify a single instance where a ballot signature was erroneously accepted.

His solution: Convince voters in 2022 to approve a legislative referendum requiring voters to print their date of birth and voting ID number on early ballots. Also, beef up the law requiring elections officials to verify signatures and create a new law allowing more partisan observer access to the signature checking process.

  • There are no chain of custody logs from some ballot drop boxes.

This is perhaps the most interesting section, yet Brnovich reserves a mere page for his finding that “it is possible that between 100,000 to 200,000 ballots were transported without a proper chain of custody” because elections officials didn’t sign forms or properly document transportation of ballots. Still, he doesn’t allege a law was broken, but rather there were “violations of ballot transportation procedures.”

His solution: The Legislature should pass laws prohibiting drop boxes altogether or governing ballot transportation procedures.

  • Elections officials received outside grants to fund elections duties.

The Auditor General’s Office just spent months on a report about this that concluded that everything elections officials did was completely legal, but Brnovich seems to disagree, saying his initial research “raises serious concerns.”

His solution: Brnovich notes that after 2020, lawmakers banned election officials from accepting outside grants.

Additionally, Brnovich proposes a handful of other election reforms without exactly stating the problem that they’re trying to solve. He urged lawmakers to pass a law requiring the Auditor General’s Office to audit elections, despite disagreeing with their audit of third-party grants to elections offices.

But here’s the kicker: Brnovich told lawmakers they should increase the penalty for election-related crimes like ballot harvesting and tampering with ballot drop boxes —despite not having identified or even alleged there was any ballot harvesting or drop box tampering¹.

While election dead-enders like Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers saw right through Brnovich’s posturing, election-denying opportunists like AZGOP chair Kelli Ward quickly pumped out the fundraising pitches. That — and a boost for Brnovich from Trump — is what this is all about.

 

This election expert is very worried about the 2024 election

By Fredreka Schouten and Kelly Mena, CNN

Updated 12:06 PM ET, Tue April 5, 2022

https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/05/politics/election-expert-2024-ctzn/index.html

[Excerpt:]

Spate of new laws

State lawmakers around the country have passed a spate of new election laws in recent days, as legislative sessions draw closer to an end. Here’s a look at recent action in two battleground states:

In Arizona, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed a controversial new law that expands proof-of-citizenship requirements for voter registration. [Boldface added]

Voting rights advocates say the measure could result in the purging of thousands of Arizonans from the voting rolls — primarily affecting mostly older, longtime residents who registered to vote before the state’s first proof-of-citizenship requirement took effect in 2005.

Currently, Arizona allows people without the needed documents to vote only in federal elections, but the new law will extend that requirement to so-called federal-only voters once it takes effect later this year.

Groups representing Latino residents and young voters already have filed a lawsuit that seeks to block the new law.

 

 

The Arizona Republican Caught in a Vise by Trump’s Big Lie

Mark Brnovich is his party’s best chance to win John McCain’s Senate seat back for the GOP. Just one problem: He’s the state’s attorney general, and Trump wants him to keep re-fighting the 2020 election.

By HANK STEPHENSON

03/10/2022 

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/03/10/arizona-republican-mark-brnovich-senate-no-trump-00015346

 

From: Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American <heathercoxrichardson@substack.com>
Date: March 9, 2022

Other people involved in the attempt to overturn the election are in more immediate trouble. Tina Peters, the Republican clerk of Mesa County, Colorado, along with her deputy, Belinda Knisley, has been indicted by a Colorado grand jury on a number of charges stemming from the release of confidential information from the county’s election systems. That information apparently got turned over to those “investigating” the election numbers. Peters says she is simply exposing the criminality of voting machine manufacturers and politicians. She is currently running for the office of secretary of state in Colorado.

 

Arizona lawmaker speaks to white nationalists, calls for violence — and sets fundraising recordsWendy Rogers, who recently drew a rare official rebuke from fellow Republicans, has raised millions from out-of-state donorsBy Beth Reinhard and Rosalind S. Helderman
March 8, 2022
https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2022/03/08/wendy-rogers-arizona-nick-fuentes-censure/

Arizona Republicans keep churning out new election legislation targeting voting access”

Fernanda Santos WaPo column:

The election-related bills kept coming, most of them aimed squarely at restricting voting access. The files clogged the desk of Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly — 141 by early last week, she said, or almost 10 percent of all bills filed in the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature so far this year.

A big part of Cázares-Kelly’s job is to administer elections. That means she has to be on top of every proposed change and, when warranted, articulate her position to lawmakers, whose job, in theory, is to represent the interests of the people of the state.

Until 2018, the number of legislative proposals about elections and voting hovered around 50 per year, Cázares-Kelly, a Democrat, told me. By 2021, Arizona ranked third in the country for the number of restrictive bills introduced, an increase no doubt fueled by former president Donald Trump’s dishonest diatribes about a stolen election and his resounding loss in a state no Democratic presidential nominee had won since Bill Clinton in 1996.

 

The Arizona Voter Identification Requirements for Mail-In Ballots and In-Person Voting Measure is on the ballot in Arizona as a legislatively referred state statute on November 8, 2022.[1]

https://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Voter_Identification_Requirements_for_Mail-In_Ballots_and_In-Person_Voting_Measure_(2022)

 

She Defended Democracy. Do Voters Care?

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs might wind up the only person standing between Arizona and the triumph of the Big Lie.

By Elaine Godfrey

FEBRUARY 28, 2022

[Excerpt]

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2022/02/katie-hobbs-arizona-governor-candidate/622057/

At this particular moment, the people who are most likely to become Arizona’s next governor are two 52-year-old women who have planted their flags on opposite sides of the battlefield for American democracy. If Lake or another Big Lie–endorsing candidate wins, a 2024 election-subversion scenario is not difficult to conjure: In two years, Donald Trump runs again for president. He is defeated again, and again, instead of conceding, he accuses Democrats of fraud. This time, though, the system works in his favor. Trump calls on his allies, newly installed in key election-administration positions in states and cities across the country, to contest the results. In Arizona, the new Republican secretary of state, Mark Finchem, chooses not to certify the election, and Governor Lake refuses to sign a certificate of ascertainment appointing the winning candidate’s electors. Instead, she suggests a different slate of electors who will vote for Trump, and they do, sending a certificate of that vote to Congress. In spite of a wave of legal challenges brought by Democrats, Republican political leaders in other swing states follow suit, setting off a chain of events in which Trump, despite losing, is declared the next president. Distrust in America’s institutions reaches new heights. Some question whether America remains a democracy. Others cheer.

These are the stakes of Katie Hobbs’s campaign for governor. She’d better hope that Arizona voters understand them.

 

Hoffman to Pence in letter: Don’t count Arizona’s electoral votes

Richard Ruelas

Arizona Republic USA TODAY NETWORK

February 18, 2022

https://arizonarepublic-az-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=303c80b08_134835e

The day before rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, an Arizona lawmaker, who had signed a document falsely asserting he was one of the state’s presidential electors, sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking him to not accept the state’s official electoral votes.

The two-page letter sent by Rep. Jake Hoffman on Jan. 5, 2021, had the same aim as the rioters would the next day: delaying the official certification of Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election and the victory of President Joe Biden.

Hoffman’s letter asked Pence to order that Arizona’s electors not be decided by the popular vote of the citizens, but instead by the members of the state Legislature.

Hoffman, in the letter, asked Pence to “seek clarification from the Arizona legislature as to which slate of electors were proper and accurate.”

Arizona was one of seven states in which groups of Trump supporters sent documents to the U.S. Senate falsely claiming to represent a slate of electors that should be counted, thereby providing a reason to turn the normally-routine counting of electoral votes into chaos.

Read More

In his letter to Pence, Hoffman did not mention that he was one of the 11 Republicans who falsely called themselves Arizona’s “duly elected and qualified electors.”

The letter was released to The Republic on Wednesday in response to a public records request. The letter was first obtained by MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Tuesday.

Hoffman declined to address the letter Wednesday when asked about it during a recess of a committee hearing. “I’ve got no comment for you,“ Hoffman said.

Hoffman, in the letter, told Pence that he understood “the magnitude and historic nature of the actions I am requesting.” He said that what he saw as rampant election fraud meant the most just outcome would be to “return the power to the level of government that is both constitutionally empowered and closest to ‘We The People’ – the state legislature.”

Letter praised Pence

Hoffman heaped praise on Pence, mentioning his high integrity, “judiciousness, discernment and steadfast resolve.”

Hoffman said Pence was akin to the Biblical figure Esther, who saved the Jewish people from slaughter. “Just like the Scriptures teach through the life story of Esther, I believe that God has placed you, and you alone, in this precise moment in history, and in this precise role to protect this bastion of freedom for all mankind.”

The letter was sent on letterhead with the official state seal of Arizona. It had a return address of the State Capitol. Hoffman had been elected to the Arizona Legislature in the 2020 election, but had not been sworn in yet. He used the title of representative-elect in the letter.

The month before his election, Hoffman’s Twitter account was suspended and his business, Rally Forge, was banned from Facebook.

Rally Forge, according to a statement from Facebook’s parent company, Meta, employed a tactic of creating accounts with fake names to post what Facebook called “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” The Washington Post reported that much of this activity was done by teenagers in Arizona.

Hoffman could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Pence was under intense pressure to not certify the election results as he presided over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump, on Twitter, wrote on Jan. 5, 2021, that “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”

Pence issued a statement ahead of the joint session of Congress saying he would follow the accepted procedure and count the certified electoral votes. News of that reached the crowd that was walking from a Trump speech at the D.C. park, the Ellipse, to the U.S. Capitol. As people breached the nation’s legislative buildings, some started chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”

Gov. Doug Ducey had certified Arizona’s election for Biden on Nov. 30, 2020. The electors for Biden met on Dec. 14, 2020, for the ceremonial casting of the electoral college ballots. Those were sent off to the U.S. Senate and the National Archives, under a procedure outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

But, that same day, the 11 Republican electors who would have cast their ballots for Trump had he won, met anyway. They held a ceremony at the state Republican Party headquarters to cast what they asserted were Arizona’s official electoral college votes. They also sent the documents to the U.S. Senate and the National Archives.

That action, which was mirrored in six other states, has drawn the attention of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

Arizona Republicans under investigation

The committee on Tuesday subpoenaed Kelli Ward, the head of the Republican Party of Arizona, asking her to provide documents and testimony.

The committee also sent a subpoena to Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem. He was not among the electors who signed, but he became a national figure while falsely promoting the idea that Arizona’s elections were riddled with systemic errors.

Reached on the House floor before a session, Finchem declined comment on the subpoena.

“I’ve got nothing to say,” Finchem said.

The committee has also issued subpoenas to two other Arizona electors: Nancy Cottle, who signed the document as “Chairperson, Electoral College of Arizona;” and Loraine Pellegrino, who signed as secretary.

The committee also sought cell phone records from Ward’s provider, T-Mobile. Ward and her husband, Michael Ward, who also signed on as a fake elector, have filed suit in federal court in Arizona to block that subpoena.

Hoffman, in a brief January interview, refused to discuss the origin of the plan to convene the false slate of electors. Video of him refusing to answer a Republic reporter’s questions about how he came to know where to be that day received airtime on national news networks.

Hoffman, in January, did say he felt he was empowered to declare himself an elector because, at the time, the election results in Arizona were the subject of court cases. “Which is why we felt it appropriate to provide Congress and the vice president with dueling options,” Hoffman said at the time.

None of those court cases, when resolved, found any fraud in the state’s election.

Hoffman, in his interview, acknowledged that his action was unusual, but defended it.

“In unprecedented times, unprecedented actions occur,” he said.

Hoffman sent the letter by email to Paul Teller, who carried the dual roles of deputy assistant to President Trump and director of Strategic Initiatives for Pence. Hoffman asked that a copy of the letter be sent to Trump. He copied the email to Tim Pataki, who was an assistant to Trump. Pataki, according to an email, responded, “Copy. Thank you, Jake.”

State Rep. Jake Hoffman, in the letter, told Pence that he understood “the magnitude and historic nature of the actions I am requesting.” He said that what he saw as rampant election fraud meant the most just outcome would be to “return the power to the level of government that is both constitutionally empowered and closest to ‘We The People’ – the state legislature.”

\

 

Voting Rights Lab: The Markup

A Weekly Election Legislation Update
February 7, 2022

Today is Monday, February 7. We are tracking 1,953 bills so far this session, with 458 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 926 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral or mixed or unclear in their impact.

The Good News: Some good news out of Arizona this week, where legislation passed out of a House committee with bipartisan support that would give voters another option for returning mail ballots. Meanwhile, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers is effectively killing a radical proposal that would allow the legislature to reject valid election results by assigning it to all 12 committees. In a unanimous bipartisan vote, New Hampshire’s House Election Law Committee recommended against the passage of H.B. 1484, which would require a standardless audit of the 2020 election results. In Alaska, legislators introduced S.B. 178, which would allow all eligible voters to opt in to a permanent mail ballot list.

 

Voting Rights Lab: The Markup

A Weekly Election Legislation Update

January 31, 2022

https://votingrightslab.org

The Bad News: Arizona’s House Rules Committee passed H.B. 2238, which prohibits unstaffed drop boxes. The Arizona House also introduced H.B. 2617, a bill that would purge voters from the registration list without proper checks to ensure eligible voters are not erroneously removed. In Texas, after reports of as many as half of all absentee ballots applications being rejected in several jurisdictions, officials only just released guidance to implement last year’s S.B. 1.

Arizona moves on legislation that restricts drop boxes and interferes with election administration. Arizona’s House Rules Committee passed H.B. 2238, which would prohibit counties from offering drop boxes unless they are monitored. This would have a disproportionate impact on indigenous voters because tribal lands often rely on drop boxes due to less reliable mail service. The Arizona House also introduced H.B. 2617, a bill that would require removal of voters from the registration list, with a focus on non-citizens and non-residents. The bill has no rules or guidelines for confirming the correct person is removed from the list. The bill would also require a voter whose registration was canceled for non-citizenship to be referred to the county attorney and state attorney general for criminal investigation. The Senate Committee on Government has a hearing on elections bills today, and the House Government and Elections Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday.

 

FBI raids home of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters in election data breach investigation

[Excerpts:]

Federal, state and local authorities searched the homes of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and three of her associates on Tuesday as part of an investigation into accusations the elected official was involved in voting machine security breaches, according to an official who helped conduct the searches.

The FBI carried out a court-ordered search of Peters’ home in Mesa County early Tuesday morning, leaving her “terrified,” Peters said Tuesday night in an appearance on Lindell TV, an online channel run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a Trump supporter and proponent of discredited claims the 2020 election was stolen.

“We executed four federally court-authorized operations today to gather evidence in connection with the investigation into the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office,” District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told Colorado Politics. “We did so with assistance from the DA’s office from the 21st Judicial District, the Attorney General’s Office and the FBI.”

Peters has maintained that she is on a mission to uncover proof that the 2020 election was rigged, despite failing to produce any evidence that happened. An audit ordered by the Arizona Senate into allegations of election fraud in that state’s biggest county found that Democrat Joe Biden, who carried the state, received more votes than had been reported in the official tally. 

Peters appeared at a symposium in South Dakota in August sponsored by Lindell, who later claimed he was helping keep Peters safe in various locations, including a Texas hotel, until Peters returned to Mesa County in late September.

Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission on Tuesday moved ahead on an investigation into a complaint believed to be against Peters. The complaint alleges Peters violated a state constitutional gift ban by accepting flights on a private plane and other travel expenses from Lindell.

 

Republicans have reacted to the state’s leftward drift by stocking the 2022 ballot with conspiracy theorists and extremists.

BY DAVID SIDERS

10/20/2021

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/10/20/arizona-gop-fringe-516322

Just when it seemed Arizona Republicans couldn’t make more of a spectacle, they found another way. 

As the party hardens around its fealty to former President Donald Trump, the GOP is filling up its midterm ballot with a roster of conspiracy theorists and extremists that could threaten the party’s prospects in a state that’s drifted leftward in recent elections.

The latest of those candidates is Ron Watkins, a celebrity in the QAnon conspiracy world suspected of being Q, who announced his plans to run for Congress last week. 

It isn’t just that Watkins embraces the baseless claim that the November election was stolen. It’s that an entire ticket is running on that falsehood now. The state’s congressional delegation features Rep. Paul Gosar, who spoke earlier this year at a conference organized by a white nationalist, and Rep. Andy Biggs, who falsely maintains “we don’t know” who won the presidential election in Arizona. 

Read More

State Rep. Mark Finchem, one of the chief proponents of the discredited post-election ballot review in Arizona, has been endorsed by Trump in his bid for secretary of state. And Kari Lake, the former TV anchor who has become a frontrunner for governor, still insists Trump carried the state and said recently that she would not have certified the 2020 election.

With Watkins’ entry into a competitive House race, the rush to the fringe has become so fulsome that one of his more prominent competitors in the GOP primary — a state lawmaker who has publicly praised the Proud Boys extremist group — now looks, in comparison, like a moderate.

All of this comes after state party officials had already censured the state’s sitting governor and other prominent Arizona Republicans deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump. 

“The goalposts keep moving,” said Bill Gates, a Republican Maricopa County supervisor. “It used to be that we got into genuine debates about whether you’re more of a conservative or a moderate. We used to debate over ideology. And now it is how far you can go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. And if you’re unwilling to do it, it doesn’t matter if you’re pro-life, if you’ve never voted for a tax increase. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about going deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, unfortunately.”

Arizona, in fact, is now fast becoming a full-blown exporter of conspiracies. The recently concluded election “audit” there served as a template for similar partisan ballot reviews in other states. No fewer than five Arizonans, including Watkins and four state lawmakers, are among speakers scheduled to appear at a QAnon-tinged conference in Las Vegas this weekend.

Back home in Arizona, Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign strategist who has used his “War Room” podcast to amplify Trump’s claims that the election was stolen, will be among the featured speakers at the Pima County GOP’s sold-out Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday, officials said.

“When I’m out speaking with people, I’m seeing frustration and maybe even some anger,” said Shelley Kais, chairwoman of the Republican Party in Pima County. “I won’t say that the first thing out of people’s mouths is election integrity, but they will say that it’s the No. 1 issue.”

For Republicans, the reason is obvious. Kais said, “If we don’t get elections right, we’ll never be able to do anything else. If we can’t get elections right, it won’t matter about the economy, it won’t matter about national security, it won’t matter about the coronavirus, because we’ll never be able to put anyone in office to change that … I think that’s what people are coming to.”

The wholesale transformation of the state GOP over the course of the year would not be so remarkable if it was happening in an impenetrably red state. But in Arizona, Republican voters only slightly outnumber Democrats and independents. The state went for Joe Biden in November, flipping the state Democratic for the first time in a presidential election since 1996. 

While this was once the state of the late, moderate Republican Sen. John McCain, the GOP saw fit to censure his widow, Cindy McCain — who endorsed Biden — earlier this year. 

It’s possible Watkins will flame out. Stan Barnes, a former state lawmaker and longtime Republican consultant, said, “I don’t think anyone considers him a serious candidate,” casting Watkins as “just part of the circus that is the 2022 election.”

But the idea that the election was stolen is not Watkins’ alone — or anywhere near outside of the mainstream in Republican thinking in Arizona.

“The center is not holding in the political spectrum,” Barnes said. “You need to understand that among Republican primary voters, the concept that President Trump was done wrong in the Arizona election scores very high. It is a very popular opinion, majority opinion, among Republican voters who will turn out in the Republican primary.”

Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, there were some indications that Arizona Republicans might pull back. Several thousand GOP voters in the state abandoned the party, re-registering as independents. In the Phoenix area, a group of CEOs took out a full-page ad in The Arizona Republic, writing that “we find the weeks of disinformation and outright lies to reverse a fair and free election from the head of the Arizona Republican Party and some elected officials to be reprehensible.”

But the resistance was short-lived. Kelli Ward, theMAGA-proud chair of the Arizona Republican Party who still calls the November election “uncertifiable,” was reelected to her post. Lake has secured Trump’s powerful endorsement, with the former president promising that she “will fight to restore Election Integrity (both past and future!).”

It isn’t as though Republicans in Arizona don’t have other, more established choices. They do. But Matt Salmon, a former House member who was the Republican Party’s nominee for governor in 2002, was running in single digits in the gubernatorial primary field, at 9 percent, according to a poll by Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights last month. The poll had Lake far ahead, with 25 percent support.

In the race to unseat Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran, Watkins, a former online message board 8chan administrator, has sought to distance himself from QAnon, denying that he is the author of Q writings. Still, he insisted in a Telegram post that Trump remains “the de facto leader of the United States” and that the election was “stolen” from him. He also posted a photograph taken with Lake, saying he had “just had dinner” with her and that “she inspires me with her tenacity and willingness to lead the fight to take back Arizona from do-nothing RINOs.”

In an email, Lake said she does not know Watkins and did not eat dinner with him. She said the homeowner who hosted an event they both attended in the Scottsdale area didn’t know him, either, “as he showed up with another guest.”

“I showed up, took photos with about half of the 75-100 supporters in attendance. Then I spoke and took questions and left. I had nothing to eat and spoke to the man you are referring to for about one minute total time,” Lake wrote.

She added, “I am all for anyone who feels they can contribute to preserving our freedoms and make our communities/state a better place to run for office. Our founders envisioned a country where everyday Americans stepped forward to lead and run for office. That being said, I don’t know anything about his platform or about him.”

The state party did not respond to a request for comment. 

Watkins, in a brief interview Wednesday, maintained he is not Q and has “never posted as Q.” Of his House race, he said his biggest issue is protecting freedom of religion, followed by concerns about elections. He maintains Biden’s victory should be decertified.

He said he is also concerned about coronavirus vaccine mandates.

For some Republicans in Arizona, the party’s ongoing focus on the 2020 election remains a source of concern, after Trump’s rhetoric about “rigged” elections appeared to depress Republican turnout in the Senate runoff elections in Georgia in January, allowing Democrats to win two seats and take control of the Senate.

“I think people are getting tired of hearing it,” said Delos Bond, chair of the Republican Party in Apache County.

In the midterms, he said, “I really think we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot if we just expound on 2020.”

But Bond, whose county went for Biden by more than 30 percentage points in 2020, said he knows that in the broader Republican universe in Arizona, his view is in the extreme minority. Candidates and their strategists know that, too.

“The Republican primary voter base has become tired of being betrayed by campaign-only conservatives — people who run for office saying, ‘I’m going to do all these great, conservative things,’ then get into office and haggle with Democrats over how much more to spend and how much more to give up the principles of the party,” said Rory McShane, a Republican strategist working on House and state races in Arizona. “In the late ‘90s, early 2000s, if you had the faith coalition on board, you had the Republican primary. Now it’s moved further into the coalition built by President Trump.”

 

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

October 14, 2021

For all the other legal news in the media today, the former president seemed to focus his wrath on news from Arizona. His spokesperson hammered on the idea—now thoroughly debunked—that the vote in that county was suspicious. 

But on that front, too, judges had something to say. The Arizona Senate had argued that they had the right to withhold records with information about their “audit” of the votes in that county because those records involved deliberations about the process, but today the Superior Court of Maricopa County ruled that the public’s interest in transparency trumped any argument for secrecy and that they must produce the records.

 

“New Arizona audit review shows Cyber Ninjas’ ballot count off by 312K”

Arizona Republic:

The hand count of ballots in Maricopa County was off by more than 312,000, according to a review of newly released Arizona audit records.

Election analysts also say Cyber Ninjas, the contractor for the hand count, didn’t tally as many as 167,524 Maricopa County ballots in its monthslong review of 2020 election results.

A 695-page report, produced by former Arizona GOP chair and audit spokesperson Randy Pullen, was supposed to provide a snapshot of all the counts of the 2.1 million ballots cast in the county’s general election. The Arizona Senate released the report late Friday after The Arizona Republic filed a request under the state’s Public Records Law.

The hand-countnumbers in the report reflect a 15% error rate when compared with a separate machine count of ballots authorized by the Arizona Senate, according to analysts who reviewed the report for The Republic.

“This is proof that the Cyber Ninjas’ vote count wasn’t real,” said Larry Moore, co-founder of the Boston-based Clear Ballot Group. “You can’t even talk about their vote counts anymore.”

Moore is part of a three-person team known as the Audit Guys. It also includes Benny White, a prominent Pima County Republican data analyst, and Tim Halvorsen, Clear Ballot’s retired chief technology officer.

Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan did not respond to requests for comment Monday. But in an Oct. 6 statement, he refuted claims that the hand count was inaccurate. He said the hand count wasn’t finished when the 695-page report on the counts was compiled

 

Trump Supporters Have Already Turned on the Cyber Ninjas

By David Gilbert

October 8, 2021

The CEO of the company responsible for the sham audit in Arizona says he won’t do another one because of the abuse he’s received from MAGA world.

 

Cheney urges Ariz. voters to reject GOP candidates for governor, secretary of state

 

The Franchise from TPM

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021 || ISSUE NO. 20

mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com

Sept. 27, 2021

The “audit” of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election results has produced its final report: Joe Biden won. But more important for former President Trump and the GOP, the report spent most of its time on just-asking-questions “anomalies” in the election — shifting the goalposts yet again and providing the foundation for the next round of attacks on democracy.

The results underscored what we all knew about this audit, which was run by people with no experience in elections who’d shown a clear Trump bias: It was never about boosting confidence in elections.

 

Arizona audit debunks Trump’s false claims, but the poison of misinformation still threatens the electoral process

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/dan-balz-take-arizona-review

 

Arizona: “Senate hires conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist for further review of ballots”

September 23, 2021

Arizona Republic:

The Arizona Senate has hired an election conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist to conduct its review of voter signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes in Maricopa County.

Cyber Ninjas, the Senate’s lead audit contractor, hired the same man to review images of all 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2020 election.

Shiva Ayyadurai, or “Dr. Shiva” as he is known to far-right adherents, was tapped for both reviews in the waning weeks of the audit process, records show. However, he had participated in discussions with Arizona Republicans about challenging the state’s election results as far back as November.  

The Arizona Republic found one of Ayyadurai’s contracts among thousands of records the Senate released this week in response to a court order

Senate President Karen Fann acknowledged the envelope review on Tuesday but would not name who the Senate hired to conduct it. She said nothing about the review of ballot images even though Cyber Ninjas gave a copy of the contract to the Senate on Aug. 6.

 

“Arizona ‘bracing for impact’ of Trump-driven election report”

August 20, 2021

Zach Montellaro for Politico:

The controversial Arizona 2020 election review is almost over, but top officials in the state’s largest county and secretary of state’s office aren’t waiting for the conclusions, launching a pair of preemptive strikes against a report that could land as soon as next week.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, released a prebuttal laying out all of her office’s criticisms of the so-called election “audit.” She detailed the pre- and post-election testing election equipment underwent in Maricopa County and called the state Senate-led effort “secretive and disorganized” that routinely discarded best practices of an actual audit.

“All credible audits are characterized by controls, access, and transparency that allow for the processes and procedures to be replicated, if necessary,” Hobbs’ office wrote. “As this report has described, the review conducted by the Senate’s contractors has consistently lacked all three of these factors.”

And Stephen Richer, the Republican county recorder in Maricopa County, on Thursday issued a lengthy report of his own, in the form of an open letter to state Republicans, challenging the credentials of the reviewers and defending his own Republican bona fides.

“I will keep fighting for conservatism, and there are many things I would do for the Republican candidate for President, but I won’t lie about the election, and I will not unjustifiably turn my back on the employees of the Board of Supervisors, Recorder’s Office, and Elections Department — my colleagues and friends,” he wrote.

The process was initially supposed to take 60 days, but has stretched on well past that. Julie Fischer, a “deputy Senate liaison” for the effort, told POLITICO that the contractors’ report — the firm leading the effort is called Cyber Ninjas — is expected to be submitted to the state Senate on Monday, and a hearing will be scheduled after that.

 

The Big Money behind the Big Lie

By Jane Meyer

August 2, 2021

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/08/09/the-big-money-behind-the-big-lie

Excerpt:

Ralph Neas has been involved in voting-rights battles since the nineteen-eighties, when, as a Republican, he served as the executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. He has overseen a study of the Arizona audit for the nonpartisan Century Foundation, and he told me that, though the audit is a “farce,” it may nonetheless have “extraordinary consequences.” He said, “The Maricopa County audit exposes exactly what the Big Lie is all about. If they come up with an analysis that discredits the 2020 election results in Arizona, it will be replicated in other states, furthering more chaos. That will enable new legislation. Millions of Americans could be disenfranchised, helping Donald Trump to be elected again in 2024. That’s the bottom line. Maricopa County is the prism through which to view everything. It’s not so much about 2020—it’s about 2022 and 2024. This is a coördinated national effort to distort not just what happened in 2020 but to regain the House of Representatives and the Presidency.”

 

By Will Sommer

“Trump Is Said to Have Called Arizona Official After Election Loss”

 

June 2, 2021

“In January [2021], a top Trump enabler, “the Republican National Committee poured $268,000 into the Arizona party’s coffers.”  These funds enable Arizona Republicans to demand a recount of the previously certified Arizona 2020 vote, led by Republican Party Chair KWard to get the “audit” party rolling and to support re-election of another Trump enabler, to the U.S. Senator ______.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/arizona-legislature-passes-law-purge-infrequent-mail-voters-n1267025

As to the ongoing “audit” of previously certified 2020 Arizona presidential election results:

the ongoing audit orchestrated by Senate Republicans had not yet been completed and she sought additional legislation.

The audit is well behind schedule and could take another six weeks to complete as auditors look for proof of various conspiracy theories

https://eu.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/elections/2021/06/01/professional-auditors-take-a-look-at-arizona-senate-audit-of-maricopa-county-2020-election/5212065001/  June 1, 2021

What to call the activity at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum this month?

It’s not an “audit,” according to many of those watching. It doesn’t meet the formal criteria, they say.

A better description would be a review or investigation — or, from some perspectives, “grift” or “clown show.” Some have taken to calling it a “fraudit.”  

Sierra Vista resident Ben Eaddy is one of many Arizonans who say calling this exercise an audit “lends it an appearance of legitimacy it simply does not deserve.”

Professional auditors are impartial and objective, for example, they try to maintain a healthy working relationship with the entity they are auditing, and they do not release results early, said Laura Long, a former auditor for the Arizona Office of the Auditor General. None of this has been the case for the Senate contractors, she said.

“I’ve been calling it a partisan recount,” she said.

County GOP leaders have been clear about what they think of the Senate GOP leaders’ endeavor. County Supervisor Chairman Sellers called it “grift disguised as an audit,” while Supervisor Clint Hickman said he knows audits from helping run his family business, and this “is not the way to do an audit.”

Maricopa County officials are using the hashtag “#realauditorsdont” to try to make clear that they do not believe the Senate contractors’ activities qualify as an audit. 

The county created the campaign to differentiate the Senate’s activities from the county’s election audits, said Fields Moseley, county communications director. Those audits included a ballot hand count conducted by representatives from political parties, a logic and accuracy test of voting machines and an in-depth examination of the county’s voting machines by two outside firms.

Meantime the Republican-led Arizona state legislature has enacted new laws restricting the vote of ordinary citizens.

 

May 12, 2021

https://ktar.com/story/4403520/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-in-maricopa-county-over-arizona-gop-election/

Despite Trump’s endorsement, Ward narrowly won her re-election on January 23, 2021. Having refused to subject her own election to an audit, her election was immediately challenged in court by other Arizona Republican Party members.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the dispute involved internal party politics and cannot be decided in a court of law, and directed the plaintiffs to pursue other remedies (including gathering support to force a special meeting, which party activists first attempted in March before party officials canceled the meeting, saying they hadn’t collected enough valid signatures).

Recall that Arizona Republican governor, Doug Ducey, duly certified Biden’s 2020 victory along with Democratic secretary of state, Katie Hobbs.

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/arizona-legislature-passes-law-purge-infrequent-mail-voters-n1267025

May 12, 2021

Biden’s narrow victory prompted many Arizona Republicans to embrace Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud. Some called for the state’s Legislature to overrule Biden’s win and seat electors who would deliver the state to Trump instead. State GOP leaders said the Legislature did not have that power, and Biden’s Electoral College victory was certified.

 

https://eu.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2021/06/02/arizona-election-audit-money-windfall-state-republican-party/7461003002/

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/arizona-legislature-passes-law-purge-infrequent-mail-voters-n1267025

May 12, 2021

Arizona will periodically remove infrequent mail voters from the state’s ballot list after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation passed on Tuesday despite protests from Democrats and advocates who say the law is discriminatory and will make voting harder.

“This bill is simple, it’s all about election integrity,” Ducey said in a video posted to Twitter.

Senate Bill 1485 passed its final Senate vote 16-14, along party lines on Tuesday afternoon. It was signed almost immediately. The bill remove infrequent voters from the state’s Permanent Early Voting List, turning it into an “active” early voting list.

Under the bill, counties will be required to remove voters from the early voting list in odd-numbered years if they do not cast a ballot by mail for two consecutive election cycles and do not respond to a notice from election officials within 90 days.

The bill purges voters from the mail voting list even if they choose to cast a ballot in person on the same voter registration, according to Eliza Sweren-Becker, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice tracking voting legislation around the country.

Democrats say the bill would remove nearly 150,000 voters from the rolls, and argue it would disenfranchise people of color, seniors, and independent voters, who do not automatically receive primary ballots. Republicans say the measure is about shoring up trust in Arizona’s elections, and updating the rules due to increased usage of mail voting.

Business leaders, Democrats, and advocates protested this bill fiercely, with dozens of business leaders coming out against it and Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James tweeting about the bill in April to his nearly 50 million Twitter followers.

Republicans condemned opposition to the bill, arguing that people need to vote more regularly by mail if they want to stay on the early voting list.

Arizona is the latest state to pass a restrictive voting law in the wake of the 2020 election. Last week, Ducey also signed a bill limiting when voters can fix a missing signature on a ballot. Florida and Georgia recently enacted new sets of election rules while Texas lawmakers advanced their own package in one chamber.

Former President Donald Trump’s stolen election lie has inspired hundreds of restrictive voting bills in at least 47 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, a nonpartisan group tracking election legislation.

Many of the bills target mail voting, which was championed by Democrats as a safe way to vote in a pandemic while Trump falsely claimed it was rife with fraud.

The mail voting bill failed an earlier vote last month, when one Republican lawmaker, state Sen. Kelly Townsend, joined Democrats in voting no because the ongoing audit orchestrated by Senate Republicans had not yet been completed and she sought additional legislation.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has excoriated the bill.

“Arizona’s vote-by-mail system has been used by voters for decades, and the changes proposed in this bill are unnecessary and detrimental to the voters who depend on it to ensure that their voice is heard.

“When our democracy was challenged, Arizona’s election officials and the people of our state courageously protected it. We should be able to expect the same level of courage from their Governor. I am disappointed that he signed this bill into law.”

“The default for most Arizona voters is voting by mail. It’s become ingrained into how we vote in Arizona. We’ve had it for 25 years, 75 percent of Arizonans are on the Permanent Early Vote List,” she said in a call with reporters last month ahead of the first vote. “It will create chaos in voting — making those kind of changes.”

 

Arizona Republicans are conducting a baffling and completely secretive recount of the 2020 election

April 26, 2021

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/26/politics/arizona-recount-2020-election/index.html

Trump later issued a statement attacking Gov. Ducey as “one of the worst Governors in America, and the second worst Republican Governor in America.” (Presumably Trump believes Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who he has repeatedly savaged for not being willing to overturn the election results, is the worst governor in the country.)”].

One can imagine that “[f]ormer President Donald Trump has only one thing on his mind of late: The ongoing recount of 2020 presidential ballots in Arizona’s Maricopa County.

Trump: “Incredible organization and integrity taking place in Arizona with respect to the Fraudulent 2020 Presidential Election,” said Trump in a statement Monday afternoon. “These are Great American Patriots, but watch, the Radical Left Democrats ‘demean and destroy campaign’ will start very soon.” 

 

Arizona Republican Party, chair Kelli Ward sued over refusal to audit her election

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

Arizona Republic
April 12, 2021

https://eu.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/elections/2021/03/12/arizona-gop-chair-kelli-ward-sued-over-refusal-audit-her-election/4667094001/

 

Arizona Lawmakers Declare Their Opposition to Democracy

April 9, 2021

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/arizona-lawmakers-declare-their-opposition-democracy

After officially objecting to the federal reforms in the For the People Act, the state legislature is considering a raft of voter suppression bills.

 

 

Florida

 

Is Voting Rights Act on trial in Florida? Redistricting case could have broad impact BY ANDREW PANTAZI AND MARY ELLEN KLAS UPDATED AUGUST 22, 2023The state of Florida will square off with voting-rights plaintiffs in Tallahassee this week in a high-stakes redistricting battle that could have national implications as both sides argue over the constitutionality of protections for Black voters. The one-day hearing on Thursday follows the state’s stark admission: Gov. Ron DeSantis’ congressional map violated the state’s safeguards against diminishing the electoral influence of racial minorities. DeSantis’ lawyers will argue those protections infringe upon the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and should be thrown out.Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article278463634.html#storylink=cpy

These 5 States Are Doing the Most to Target LGBTQ People

Anti-LGBTQ legislation is at a record high — and these states are responsible for the worst of it

BY NICO LANG

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/worst-anti-lgbtq-states-america-trans-legislation

[Excerpt:]

The recent wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation feels alien to civil rights advocates who have been working in Florida for decades. Joe Saunders, who served for two years in the state legislature before joining Equality Florida as its senior political director, says Florida was once “often thought of as the hope of the South.” In 2017, a record 15 Republican lawmakers signed onto a bill that would enshrine into law protections for LGBTQ Floridians in areas like housing, employment, and areas of public accommodation, such as the right to be served at a restaurant. “It feels like a rubber band has been released, and we are slingshotting into a different version of Florida than we’ve ever been,” Saunders tells Rolling Stone. “It is jarring to come out of this last session where there were 22 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation that were filed. That is the most we’ve ever had on record. People are shocked. They’re afraid, and they’re very, very angry.”

As DeSantis gears up for a 2024 presidential campaign, LGBTQ Floridians worry that attacks on equality may continue proliferating next legislative session. The governor has hinted at further actions to punish Disney for its criticism of the “Don’t Say Gay” law as the company sues DeSantis’ administration in court for retaliation. The governor installed an oversight board to monitor Disney World’s special district after stripping its self-governing status and has floated the possibility of building a prison near the Orlando theme park to scare off potential visitors. Meanwhile, Florida’s regulations on trans youth health care have also made it extremely difficult for adults to transition: The new law bans gender-affirming treatments from being prescribed through telehealth — for trans people of all ages — and prohibits nurse practitioners from administering transition care. What’s more, it requires trans patients to sign an informed consent form before they can be prescribed treatment, a form that has yet to be created by state medical authorities.

 

Letters from an American, Heather Scott Richardson

July 13, 2023

The upcoming election is in the news not only because of the role of disinformation in our elections, but also because of voting challenges. Today, Sam Levine and Andrew Witherspoon of The Guardian reported that Florida Republicans are cracking down on voter registration groups that focus on people of color, levying more than $100,000 in fines since September 2022 on 26 groups for errors like submitting an application to the wrong county. Voter registrations have dropped compared to 2019, the most recent year preceding a presidential election.

A study by Doug Bock Clark today in ProPublica showed that about 89,000 of close to 100,000 challenges to voter registrations in Georgia were filed by just six right-wing activists. Most of the rest of the challenges came from just twelve more people. Those making the challenges were helped by right-wing organizations, and they appeared to target those believed to vote for Democrats.

House Republicans traveled to Georgia on Monday to reveal what they call the “most conservative election integrity bill to be seriously considered in the House in over 20 years.” Four of the five Republicans on the House Administration Committee pushing the bill voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Committee markup on the bill began today.

 

“Florida elections officials quietly made it easier for Ron DeSantis to fund his 2024 bid”

NBC News:

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has quietly changed state guidelines, essentially giving its blessing for a state-level political committee he previously ran to move millions of dollars to a super PAC helping his presidential campaign.

For years, elections officials said such a transfer to federal super PACs would not be allowed. But in March — just months before DeSantis formally launched his bid for president — officials at the Florida State Department, the DeSantis administration entity that regulates state elections, changed its handbook to assert that such moves are allowed.

The timing is notable because a state-level political committee DeSantis led for the past five years, known as Friends of Ron DeSantis, is widely expected to transfer $80 million to a federal super PAC called Never Back Down that is supporting his just-launched bid for president.

 

Florida and Texas Go After Voters for Honest Mistakes

The hunt for nonexistent voter fraud is a pretext for efforts to intimidate eligible voters.

 

May 16, 2023

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/florida-and-texas-go-after-voters-honest-mistakes

 

“Federal lawsuit challenges Florida’s voter registration forms”

Tampa Bay Times:

The League of Women Voters of Florida and the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday contending that a state voter registration application does not properly inform voters about eligibility requirements.

The lawsuit centers on felons who, under a 2018 state constitutional amendment, can have voting rights restored after they fulfill sentences.

It contends that the voter registration application violates a federal law known as the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

“Due to the state’s NVRA violation and maze of voter-eligibility rules, returning citizens (felons) struggle to accurately complete the application, and voter-registration organizations struggle to assist returning citizens in answering the application,” said the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tallahassee.

You can find the complaint at this link.

“Florida Changes Law to Boost Unjust ‘Voter Fraud’ Prosecutions”

Brennan Center analysis:

Florida’s prosecution of ineligible voters with past convictions was politically motivated from the beginning. The individuals accused didn’t knowingly commit voter fraud — they simply weren’t aware that their past criminal convictions barred them from voting. Some local prosecutors have, rightfully, declined to bring charges under similar circumstances.

In response, rather than calling an end to the needless criminal cases and addressing the root cause of the confusion that led to them, the state government has doubled down, changing state law to tighten Gov. Ron DeSantis’s control over the prosecution of alleged “voter fraud” identified by the state’s new and unnecessary election crimes office. It’s the latest chapter in an episode that illustrates why politics and law enforcement should be kept separate, especially in the realm of voting and elections. 

DeSantis initially proposed the Office of Election Crimes and Security — which, as first conceived, would have had prosecutorial power — because “people weren’t getting prosecuted” by local prosecutors. In its first round of arrests conducted just five days before Florida’s primary election last August, the office partnered with state and local police in the Democratic-leaning counties of Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach. Flanked by over a dozen uniformed police officers, DeSantis announced the arrest of 20 people with past convictions, hailing these as his election crimes office’s “opening salvo.”

Of the 19 people the Brennan Center has been able to identify, all appear to have been confused or misled about their eligibility when they allegedly voted in 2020. Recognizing that this misunderstanding is hardly a crime, some local prosecutors declined to bring charges, likely prompting statewide prosecutors to seize control of the cases.

lorida courts, however, put a roadblock in DeSantis’s path. State law only allowed the office of statewide prosecution to prosecute certain crimes that affected or occurred in 2 or more of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits. To account for this, statewide prosecutors argued they had the authority to prosecute the arrested individuals because they registered and voted in one circuit, while state authorities in a different circuit approved their registrations and allowed them to vote. Not convinced by this tortured logic, which would effectively treat Florida’s Division of Elections as a coconspirator, four of the office’s cases were dismissed by judges in BrowardMiami-Dade, and Orange counties as violating state law.

To salvage the prosecutions, the legislature passed, and DeSantis signed on February 15, S.B. 4-B, which expands the authority of statewide prosecutors so they can prosecute alleged voter fraud identified by the state’s election police. Troublingly, this change boosts the executive branch’s ability to use law enforcement for political ends. Unlike local prosecutors, who are elected by the public, statewide prosecutors are supervised by the state’s attorney general — an ally of DeSantis — and are thus more subject to partisan agendas….

 

New Voting Restrictions Could Make It Harder for 1 in 5 Americans to Vote

Across the country, from California to Georgia, people like Olivia Coley-Pearson and Faye Combs are working through stigma and increased restrictions as they help people who struggle to read exercise their right to vote.

For all the recent focus on voting rights, little attention has been paid to one of the most sustained and brazen suppression campaigns in America: the effort to block help at the voting booth for people who struggle to read — a group that now amounts to about 48 million Americans, or more than a fifth of the adult population.

While new voting restrictions in states like Florida, Texas and Georgia do not all target voters who struggle to read, they make it especially challenging for these voters to get help casting ballots. 

ProPublica analyzed the voter turnout in 3,000 counties and found that places with lower estimated literacy rates tended to also have lower turnout.

The Briefing: Florida’s election police come up empty
The Brennan Center
September 7, 2022
In 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis bragged that Florida’s elections were the “gold standard.” That was an exaggeration, but he was right in one sense: the elections there, as in the rest of the country, were secure and not marred by fraud.
That left DeSantis with a dilemma in his shadow race against Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination. How to prove that he, too, could recklessly undermine democracy? His answer was an election crimes police squad, announced last year to great fanfare.
Did it discover Italian spy satellites switching votes? Dominion machines using ballots made in China? Bushels of ballots?
No — it discovered voters caught in the act of voting.
Rather than identifying some shadowy network of deep state operatives, state election police have found a tiny handful of people, many of whom were themselves victims of government incompetence.
Who could ever have imagined such a thing? Well, lots of people — including the Brennan Center and other voting rights advocates.
Florida’s felony disenfranchisement system was a notorious remnant of Jim Crow. It barred people who had a felony conviction for voting throughout their entire lifetimes, keeping 1.7 million otherwise eligible people from exercising their citizenship rights. In 2018, a sizable majority of Florida voters enacted Amendment 4 to end that system. The Brennan Center proudly helped draft the amendment and participated in the campaign to pass it.
Then the Florida Legislature stepped in. It undermined the law, requiring citizens who had just had their rights restored to pay off fines and fees before voting. We took the state to court, warning that the new requirement would lead to chaos. There was no way for people to know if they were eligible to vote. We lost that case, and now Florida is living with that chaos.
Consider the story of Kelvin Bolton, as documented in ProPublica and covered here at the Brennan Center. In 2018, after Floridians overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to most people with past convictions, the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections sent officials to county jail to help inmates register for the next election. Kelvin Bolton proudly signed up along with other people in exactly the same situation. According to Bolton, the officials failed to tell him about the requirement that he pay outstanding fines and fees.
Even if Bolton had known, there was very little he could have done. There is no centralized database you can use, no number you can call, to find out whether there are outstanding fees. Here’s an indication of how maddening the process is: When the Brennan Center was developing a resource for people attempting to restore their voting rights, we quickly determined that it had to be aimed at lawyers. No layperson could reliably navigate this Kafkaesque labyrinth. And yet, DeSantis and his election police apparently take the position that formerly incarcerated Floridians vote at their own risk.
And, despite its obligation to do so, the state of Florida will not lift a finger to help. The government simply allows (and sometimes encourages) people with felony convictions to register to vote, then prosecutes them when it realizes they have outstanding court debts.
That’s what happened to Kelvin Bolton. Now he faces years in prison and — you guessed it — thousands of dollars in fines. He is determined to fight the charges, but many others pleaded guilty and accepted losing their voting rights yet again.
Election police squads were pointless from the beginning. Voter fraud is extremely rare, and there is no reason whatsoever to believe that that minuscule number of cases have any partisan lean. Voter fraud didn’t decide the 2020 election, and it won’t decide the 2024 election.
But prosecuting people like Kelvin Bolton shows that Florida’s focus on election crimes is worse than pointless — it’s dangerous. It persecutes people who were only attempting to participate in our democracy as full citizens. It also intimidates and deters eligible voters who fear that the election police will come for them, too. All in the name of proving that there is in fact fraud happening, to give credibility to those who have staked their political careers on its existence.

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“Ron DeSantis’ voter fraud hunt backfires”

Axios:

Elections officials across Florida are poking holes in the DeSantis administration’s claims that they’re to blame after 20 people were arrested for voting illegally.

Driving the news: Supervisors of elections in Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties say it’s the state’s responsibility to notify local election offices about people ineligible to vote because of certain prior felony convictions, Politico reports.

Pete Antonacci, who DeSantis appointed as head of his elections investigation office, contradicted the governor’s claims by telling local election supervisors in a letter earlier this month that they were not at fault in allowing the felons to vote in 2020.

Why it matters: If the charges don’t stick, DeSantis will have egg on his face after making a show of the arrests to tout ​​his new election security task force.

Some of the people arrested have said they thought they were allowed to vote.

In 2018, Florida voters approved a ballot measure to restore the voting rights of people with prior felony convictions. Alas, it excepted people who had convictions for murder or a felony sex offense.

A lawyer for one of the Miami-Dade defendants told reporter Politico’s Matt Dixon that police dragged his client out of his home in his underwear for the arrest.

 

A change to Florida’s ballot signature review creates headaches for local officials

A change to Florida’s election laws has created a new headache for some local election officials.

A little-known provision in Senate Bill 90, a sweeping voting measure passed by Florida Republicans last year, increased how much input the public can have when it comes to approving signatures on mail ballots.

This change comes at a time when local election officials across the country are still dealing with the fallout of misinformation following the 2020 election.

Wendy Sartory Link has been the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County for about three years. She says the job has been fulfilling and more involved than she ever expected. But Link says she’s also been surprised by how often she’s heard from people who believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Read More

“We get a lot of demands — including, ironically, today — that they want there to be a recount, or actually they want a new election for 2020 because they believe — and these are their words — that the election was stolen,” Link said a few weeks ago.

This is a statewide issue, says Mark Earley, who heads elections in Tallahassee’s Leon County and is president of the state association of supervisors of elections. He says small groups of people have been coordinating and requesting public records, meetings with officials and “demanding opportunities to challenge ballots” as well as voters.

“And that is getting incorporated into some statutes that we are now having to apply,” Earley said, referring in part to the new signature review in SB 90.

Most mail ballot signatures clearly match what local officials have on file. But when signatures aren’t deemed to be a close-enough match, election staff try to get in touch with the voter to cure their ballot. And if that doesn’t happen, Earley says, those signatures go before a canvassing board.

“These are just the signatures that are debatable, from our perspective, as to whether they are valid or not,” he said.

And historically, this is the point at which the public has been able to weigh in on whether a signature should be approved.

Leslie Scott Jean-Bart, an attorney in Jacksonville, has for years been watching over canvassing boards with her legal partner in Duval County.

“We will object if they discard a ballot that we think matches,” she told NPR. “And that just gives us a record. And we will write down the number for what that was and we will write down the reason for the objection.”

Very rarely does this affect what signatures get approved by the board. But records are useful, Jean-Bart says, when elections are really close.

Under the new rules, thought, Earley says supervisors of elections need to give the public the ability to weigh in earlier — basically at the beginning of the signature inspection process.

“Now the requirement is for reasonable access to potentially look at a vast number of signatures that our staff has found absolutely no trouble with,” he said, “and for outsiders to be able to lodge objections to even these really good quality signatures.”

Under Section 101.572 in SB 90, candidates and political parties can appoint anyone they want to inspect voter signatures. There’s no training requirement and it’s up to supervisors of elections in each of Florida’s 67 counties to set parameters on how that’s going to work.

And that takes time and money. Link says a local group in Palm Beach County told her they were sending more than a hundred people to inspect ballot signatures this month. So, she bought a big tent and equipment.

“We ramped up to accommodate that,” she said. “And now as it turns out we’ve had many fewer than that.” As of last week, only eight people signed up to look at signatures in Palm Beach County, Link’s office says.

Earley says in the time this provision has been in effect, he’s heard about other issues, too. For example, he’s heard of people coming in and demanding broader access than what their county official offers, as well as issuing challenges to signatures that are clearly a match to what’s on file.

He says this is all part of a larger issue with growing distrust in elections.

“I absolutely believe this intent is being driven by the misperception out there that you can’t trust anything anymore, even your eyes,” he said. “That gets to be extremely disruptive four our ability to get our jobs done.”

Earley views Florida’s primaries — which conclude Tuesday — as a trial run for this new process. He says he’s worried the general election in November could be a bigger test.

 

“DeSantis announces arrests in Florida for voting fraud”

Miami Herald:

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the arrests of 20 people across Florida — spanning five counties, including Miami-Dade and Broward — on charges of voting illegally, the conclusion of a two-month investigation spearheaded by the governor’s newly-created state agency tasked with investigating election crimes.

DeSantis, in making the announcement Thursday afternoon in a courtroom at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, said there would be other arrests for people who cast ballots but were not eligible to vote in Florida for other reasons, including voters he said were non-citizens.

“If there are certain rules and regulations in place, if people don’t think that those are going to be enforced, you’re going to have more violations,’‘ he said. “That’s just the way it goes.”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Acting Commissioner Mark Glass said that officers from FDLE made arrests Thursday in the Tampa, Orlando and Miami areas. FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told the Herald that 17 people have been arrested so far: two in Miami-Dade, three in Broward, three in Palm Beach, four in Orange and five in Hillsborough. The suspects span ages 43 to 72. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy between the number of arrests DeSantis cited and the number of arrests provided by FDLE.

Plessinger did not provide the arrest affidavits for each person but said they were each being charged with one count of false affirmation in relation to voting or elections and one count of voting as an unqualified elector. She said they all voted in the 2020 election but did not provide the dates the alleged crimes were committed. DeSantis said the people arrested were disqualified from voting because they had been convicted of either murder or sexual assault and they do not have the right to vote. He said their rights were not automatically restored under Amendment 4, which excluded people that have been convicted of sexual assault and homicide from having their rights automatically restored.

The Guardian:

The governor released few other details about the charges, and indictments and warrants weren’t immediately available. That lack of detail is significant. The rules around voting with a felony are incredibly complex around the country, Florida included, and many people with felonies can be confused about their eligibility. There have been several examples, including in Florida, of illegal voting cases involving people who had been convicted of felonies that turn out to be people who were confused. People with felonies can make easy targets for prosecutors looking to make a voter fraud case since they are already being monitored.

 

Appeals court reinstates Florida’s disputed voting law

A federal appeals court panel has blocked a recent ruling by a federal judge in Tallahassee, temporarily reinstating contested parts of Florida’s voting law. The law will likely be in force for the November election.

Published May 6|Updated May 6

TALLAHASSEE — A federal appeals court panel has temporarily reinstated a Florida voting law that a federal judge recently declared unconstitutional for its limits on drop boxes, “line warming” activities at polling sites and third-party voter registration efforts.

In March, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee struck down large parts of Senate Bill 90, passed by Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year.

Pointing to the state’s “grotesque history of racial discrimination,” Walker ruled that lawmakers intended to discriminate against Black voters. In a drastic move, he also prohibited the Legislature from passing similar voting restrictions for the next 10 years without court approval.

The state appealed, and on Friday, Walker’s decision was temporarily blocked pending the outcome of that appeal by a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.

RELATED: Federal judge says parts of 2021 Florida voting law are unconstitutional

The judges wrote that Walker’s decision was too close to the November election. They also wrote that his decision had some flaws.

The U.S. Supreme Court has instructed that when a court is assessing whether a statute is tainted with discriminatory intent, “the good faith of the state legislature must be presumed,” the judges wrote.

“For starters, in its 288-page opinion, the district court never once mentioned the presumption,” they wrote. “And while we do not require courts to incant magic words, it does not appear to us that the district court here meaningfully accounted for the presumption at all.”

Walker was appointed to the federal bench in Tallahassee by former President Barack Obama. The three 11th Circuit judges are Kevin Newsom, Barbara Lagoa and Andrew Brasher, all appointed by former President Donald Trump. Lagoa was previously named to the Florida Supreme Court by DeSantis.

Their decision means that Senate Bill 90′s provisions will likely be in effect during the November election, when DeSantis is up for reelection along with all legislative and congressional candidates.

DeSantis and lawmakers had advocated for the legislation in the wake of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud cost him his reelection in 2020. Claiming they were combatting voter fraud, they passed numerous changes to the state’s voting laws, including:

  • Limiting the use of ballot drop boxes to early voting hours, unless they’re in a supervisor’s office, and requiring the boxes to be attended at all times;
  • Requiring third-party groups to issue a warning when trying to register voters, including telling voters that their registration application might not be turned in before the voter registration deadline or within the required 14 days.
  • Changing the rules regarding the “no-solicitation zone” around a polling site to prohibit “any activity with the intent to influence or effect of influencing a voter.”

Numerous plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida and the NAACP, sued, claiming those provisions were unconstitutional. During a trial in Walker’s court, they testified that the warnings have had a chilling effect on registering new voters, and they said that county elections supervisors have interpreted the provisions too broadly.

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Walker agreed that part of the bill targeted Black voters, writing that they were more likely than white voters to wait in long lines at polling sites and more likely to register to vote through third-party groups.

He also noted that the Legislature in the last two decades has passed voting restrictions after Black voters saw gains in the polls.

“Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern,” Walker wrote. “At some point, when the Florida Legislature passes law after law disproportionately burdening Black voters, this Court can no longer accept that the effect is incidental.”

Republican lawmakers have already eliminated the warning that third-party groups had to issue under Senate Bill 90. This year, they deleted that warning, an apparent attempt to get around Walker’s concerns.

DeSantis spokesperson Bryan Griffin said in a statement that the governor’s office was pleased by the decision.

“We expect this law to stand up to any further legal scrutiny,” Griffin said. “Despite partisan criticism, Florida’s election integrity laws are constitutional because they protect every voter.”

Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of Equal Ground, a social justice group that was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in a statement Friday that they were “deeply disappointed and disturbed” by the court’s decision.

“Let’s be clear, this law undoes the progress that voting rights groups have made and targets the very tools minority communities, like ours, use to increase voter turnout,” Burney-Clark said.

 

Florida gave voting rights to people with felony convictions. Now some face charges for voting.

By Kira Lerner
April 28, 2022 

https://www.newsfromthestates.com/article/florida-gave-voting-rights-people-felony-convictions-now-some-face-charges-voting

 

Judge Rules Parts of Florida Voting Law Are Unconstitutional

The ruling against a major Republican election law, issued by a federal judge in Tallahassee, is likely to be overturned either by a higher appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court.By Reid J. EpsteinPatricia Mazzei and Nick Corasaniti

March 31, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/31/us/politics/florida-voting-law.html?referringSource=articleShare

[Excerpt:] 

A federal judge in Florida ruled on Thursday that sections of the state’s year-old election law were unconstitutional and racially motivated, and barred the state from making similar changes to its laws in the next decade without the approval of the federal government.

The sharply worded 288-page order, issued by Judge Mark E. Walker of the Federal District Court in Tallahassee, was the first time a federal court had struck down major elements of the wave of voting laws enacted by Republicans since the 2020 election. Finding a pattern of racial bias, Walker in his ruling relied on a little-used legal provision to impose unusual federal restrictions on how a state legislates.

“For the past 20 years, the majority in the Florida Legislature has attacked the voting rights of its Black constituents,” Walker wrote in the decision, which frequently quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Walker argued that the attacks were “part of a cynical effort to suppress turnout among their opponents’ supporters. That, the law does not permit.”

Judge Walker’s decision is certain to be appealed and is likely to be overturned either by the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which tends to lean conservative, or the Supreme Court, which has sharply limited the federal government’s power to intervene in state election law.

 

The elections police are coming

A measure moving through the Republican-controlled Georgia legislature would hand new election policing powers to the state’s bureau of investigations.
The bill under consideration in the Georgia House would give the Georgia Bureau of Investigations the power to probe election fraud allegations — supplementing the work currently overseen by state election officials.
If the proposal becomes law, the Peach State would become the second state in recent weeks to beef up enforcement of election fraud — a crime that federal and state officials say is exceedingly rare.
Last week, the Florida legislature created a scaled-back version of a new election police force that had been sought by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is on the ballot for reelection this year and has presidential ambitions for 2024.
The measure, headed to DeSantis’ desk for his signature, would establish an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Department of State with a staff of 15 to conduct preliminary investigations of election fraud. In addition, the measure calls for DeSantis to appoint up to 10 law enforcement officers to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to probe election crimes.
The Florida measure also makes it a felony to return more than two mail-in ballots on behalf of other voters.
The stepped-up fraud-detection efforts in these states are part of a wave of bills moving through Republican-controlled state legislatures aimed at rewriting election procedures, following President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. Former President Donald Trump and his allies have falsely attributed his loss in Georgia and other key states to election fraud.
In Georgia, which has a Republican governor and secretary of state, Biden’s narrow 2020 victory was certified after three counts of ballots. And judges have tossed out several lawsuits claiming fraud.
Voting rights advocates say the enhanced policing is unnecessary and could chill participation in elections, if voters, election workers or third-party groups fear prosecution for honest mistakes.
An Associated Press review last year of every potential fraud case in six key battleground states found fewer than 475 cases — too few disputed ballots to have made any difference in the outcome of the 2020 election.
But proponents of the bills say any fraud is too much — and are committing millions of taxpayer dollars to root it out. (Florida state Rep. Daniel Perez, a Republican who guided the election police force bill through the Florida House, said both components of the law-enforcement package had a $3.7 million price tag.)
In Florida, DeSantis is expected to sign the bill. His aides say having a team dedicated to investigating election fraud allegations will serve as a deterrent to wrongdoing.

“Florida Senate Passes Voting Bill to Create Election Crimes Agency”

NYT:

The Franchise from TPM:
What The Heck Is Going On In Florida? (Part II)

There’s a growing voter fraud scandal coming out of Florida. It’s got nothing to do with illegally cast ballots and everything to do with Republican Party canvassers.

We reported earlier this year on some strange reports coming out of South FLORIDA: Democratic and no-party-affiliation voters were telling news outlets that their party registrations had been switched against their will. Some remembered talking to Republican Party canvassers ahead of the switch, but said they had not intended to switch their party registration as part of those conversations.

Now, The Miami Herald has an alarming story on the scope of the problem: Going door-to-door in the affected area in recent weeks, Herald reporters found that the party affiliations of four out of every five voters they spoke to had been changed without their knowledge. That’s 141 people in total, the vast majority of whom had their registrations changed to the Republican Party, by Republican canvassers, without their intent.

The voters described being misled by canvassers who told them they needed a new signature verification or voter ID card, the paper reported. Some didn’t remember speaking with canvassers at all.

A spokesperson for the state Republican Party said that the party “follows all applicable laws relating to voter registration.” We haven’t heard the last of this. 

 

Voting Rights Lab: The Markup

A Weekly Election Legislation Update
February 7, 2022

Today is Monday, February 7. We are tracking 1,953 bills so far this session, with 458 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 926 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral or mixed or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: The Florida omnibus bills are here. Each chamber of the legislature introduced similar omnibus bills last week, which include provisions that increase the chance that absentee ballots will be rejected, threaten voters with a felony for returning ballots on behalf of neighbors, and create an Office of Election Crimes & Security to investigate possible election law violations. In West Virginia, legislators introduced a bill (H.B. 4518) that would effectively repeal automatic voter registration. In Missouri, legislators introduced H.B. 2633, which would ban electronic tabulators and require a hand-count in all races.

 

POLITICO Florida Playbook: Opening day in trial over Florida’s voting law

January 24, 2022

It starts — A highly-anticipated federal trial over Florida’s 2021 voting law kicks off today (remotely) as a long line of civil rights and voting rights groups try to convince a federal judge that the new measure discriminates against minorities, people with disabilities, and older voters.

How we got here — Gov. Ron DeSantis urged the Republican-led Legislature to push the law through even though he’d boasted about how well the 2020 election had gone. The new law put in new restrictions for mail-in ballots and the use of drop boxes as well as new requirements for third-party groups that register voters.

All in — The trial — which could last two weeks — is a de facto proxy fight over voting rights that comes right after Democrats failed to push through legislation in Congress despite the urging of President Joe Biden. Florida’s effort to defend the law is being supported by national Republican organizations, while Democratic attorneys general and the Biden administration have weighed in as well.

The argument — Republicans in the spring of 2021 contended that they were enacting the law to head off potential problems in the future. And GOP lawyers ahead of the trial have used recent examples of alleged voter fraud — including incidents that aren’t even covered by the new law, such as double voting — to defend the measure. 

Yet — But a raft of internal emails and text messages obtained by POLITICO showed GOP lawmakers drafted the legislation with the help of the Republican Party of Florida’s top lawyer, and that a crackdown on mail-in ballot requests was seen as a way for the GOP to erase an edge Democrats had in the 2020 election.

Convincing the judge — Still, it will be up to those challenging the state to prove that the law has a discriminatory effect. And they plan to bring on a long line of experts — who will be challenged by the state — to try to sway Chief District Judge Mark Walker. Walker, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, is no stranger to Florida and has ruled against the state in the past. But Walker has already thrown out one part of the lawsuit, which challenged a new two-ballot limit on how many mail-in ballots someone could gather and turn in.

 

DeSantis’ proposed election police force alarms voting rights advocates

By Steve Contorno and Fredreka Schouten, CNN

Updated  January 20, 2022

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/19/politics/ron-desantis-pushes-election-police-force/index.html

Florida could become the first state in the country with a dedicated police force to investigate election fraud under a proposal that has become a top priority of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The proposal has concerned voting rights advocates, local election officials and Democrats, who fear the scope of this police force’s new mandate could lead to voter intimidation. If approved, the new office would have a 52-member team, including 20 sworn police officers, to “investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of election laws.

“They don’t have a lot of safeguards to keep this from being politicized and weaponized,” said Brad Ashwell, the Florida state director of the voting rights group All Voting is Local.

DeSantis is asking lawmakers to set aside $5.7 million to create the Office of Election Crimes and Security and give the executive branch unique and unprecedented power to look into voting irregularities, despite little evidence of widespread voter fraud in his state.

Read More

Why Ron DeSantis wants to form an election security police force

The Repubican said last week that the new office would “ensure that elections are conducted in accordance with the rule of law” and “provide Floridians with the confidence that their vote will matter.”

Establishing an office that ultimately answers to the governor with powers to investigate election crimes is unprecedented at the state level, voting rights experts say.

DeSantis’ proposal represents “an escalation in the broader attempt to sow doubt in the integrity of our elections,” said Wendy Weiser, vice president of democracy at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school. It’s unusual, she added, because “in the American system, we separate law enforcement functions from political functions.”

The governor first announced the proposal in November as supporters of Donald Trump pushed for Republicans to investigate the former President’s unfounded falsehoods about election fraud. Even in Florida, where Trump won by a historically wide margin, conservatives spent the fall knocking on doors in communities all over the state, hoping to find evidence of fraud that could convince leaders to conduct a review of the 2020 vote totals.

Trump ally Roger Stone, a Florida resident, threatened in October to run against DeSantis in 2022 if the governor didn’t support an audit of the state’s election.

DeSantis, widely considered a future GOP contender for president, has dismissed those demands as unnecessary in Florida, which he has said is a voting model for the country. Nevertheless, he has pushed for new voting measures that he said will prevent election fraud.

GOP gubernatorial candidate David Perdue calls for new election police unit in Georgia

Florida law enforcement agencies, local election officials and state prosecutors already have the power to enforce election laws in Florida. The unit DeSantis has proposed would report to the Department of State, an agency overseen by the governor and administered by Secretary of State Laurel Lee, a DeSantis appointee.

DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said the new office would like to hire people “who have experience and familiarity with election law,” such as former employees of the Department of Homeland Security, the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Department of Justice.

In December, Lee addressed a gathering of Florida election supervisors and offered more details about how the office would work, said Joe Scott, the elections supervisor in Broward County. He said he grew alarmed after listening to Lee.

“It sounds like they are going to focus on grassroots organizations — the type of organizations that go out and do voter registration drives,” he said. And he worries that the potential for criminal prosecution will “intimidate people into not bothering” with electoral work.

The League of Women Voters of Florida typically registers thousands of voters each year in the state, said Cecile Scoon, a Panama City civil rights lawyer who serves as its president. If DeSantis succeeds in establishing a new elections security office, “it’s going to chill the behavior” of third-party groups such as hers “because we don’t want to be accused” unfairly of illegal activity, she said.

“We’ve had almost zero fraud, almost zero problems, so you are asking yourself: ‘What are they going to be looking for?’ ” Scoon said. “When you create an office to stamp out something, they are going to look for it — even if there is nothing there.”

Scott, a Democrat, said he’s skeptical of an elections police force that’s controlled by a DeSantis appointee.

“This is Gov. DeSantis’ political police squad. That’s what this is,” he said. “You shouldn’t have partisan election officials directing an agency like this.”

Republican lawmakers have reacted cautiously to the governor’s proposal. The top Republicans on the House and Senate election committees did not respond to phone calls from CNN. Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls previously said he would evaluate the idea but was uncommitted.

State Rep. Evan Jenne, the House minority leader, called DeSantis’ idea: “A solution looking for a problem.”

“If this had come on the heels of a massive scandal, I wouldn’t be so against the idea,” Jenne said.

DeSantis pushes Florida redistricting map that heavily favors Republicans

The unit would have latitude to probe allegations of voter fraud in the state as well as take over other law enforcement agencies’ investigations, according to the proposed legislation. DeSantis would also embolden this new force to watch over election officers and “conduct proactive information gathering and investigations to identify and prevent potential election law violations or election irregularities.”

Wesley Wilcox, a Republican who runs elections in Marion County, Florida, said he was taken aback by what he called the “tough” wording.

“It kind of makes supervisors, in my mind, almost look like bad guys in this process,” he said.

The Florida Supervisors of Elections, the group that represents all 67 county election officials in the state, is waiting to evaluate a concrete legislative proposal before taking a formal position, said Wilcox, the organization’s president.

In the past, top Republicans have turned to state law enforcement to investigate their vague allegations of election irregularities.

With his race headed for a recount in 2018, then-Gov. Rick Scott accused “unethical liberals” of trying to steal a US Senate seat from him and he requested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conduct a criminal probe into a South Florida elections office. The investigation was ultimately dropped.

Florida bill to shield people from feeling ‘discomfort’ over historic actions by their race, nationality or gender approved by Senate committee

Just before the 2020 election, DeSantis questioned the legality of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s offer to raise funds to pay the court debts of felons so they could vote. Calls for an investigation ultimately landed in the lap of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which again found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Pushaw seemed to confirm that the later episode could have fallen under the jurisdiction of DeSantis’ new elections force, had it existed.

“The proposed Office of Election Crimes and Security is intended to investigate possible violations of election law and deter potential violations,” she said, adding: “Florida law explicitly prohibits ‘vote-buying’ and ‘vote-selling,’ ” which is what Republicans accused Bloomberg of violating.

 

What’s in Florida’s new election law?

Amy Sherman

June 2, 2021

https://www.politifact.com/article/2021/jun/02/whats-floridas-new-election-law/

[This story has been edited for length].

IF YOUR TIME IS SHORT

  • After a presidential election that state officials said was smooth and a model for the nation, Florida Republicans sought to rewrite the state’s election laws.
  • The Legislature passed SB 90 along party lines in April, and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law May 6. It took effect immediately.
  • The bill restricts ballot drop boxes, bans the collection by individuals of multiple completed ballots and adds requirements to request a mail ballot. 

The Florida law isn’t as expansive as Georgia’s SB 202, which led to corporate backlash and cost Atlanta the chance to host baseball’s All-Star Game. But it will change some of the rules for voting in the nation’s largest battleground state. 

Florida’s statewide association of election supervisors, which includes Republicans and Democrats, criticized the legislation. The new restrictions have prompted multiple lawsuits by voting rights and civil rights groups, including the League of Women Voters and the NAACP. National Republican groups who support the law have sought to intervene in one lawsuit. 

“SB 90 is a bill that purports to solve problems that do not exist, caters to a dangerous lie about the 2020 election that threatens our most basic democratic values, and, in the end, makes it harder to vote without adequate justification for doing so,” wrote the plaintiffs in the suit filed by lawyer Marc Elias on behalf of the League of Women Voters. Elias has filed multiple election law challenges nationwide. 

The new law leaves some key voting rights in Florida unchanged, such as allowing voters to cast a ballot by mail without an excuse and keeping at least eight days of early voting. But it restricts other aspects of voting, especially voting by mail, following an election in which Democrats cast more mail ballots than Republicans, a reversal of past trends.

What’s in Florida’s New Voting Law?

Voting rights groups filed lawsuits shortly after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation reducing voting access in the battleground state. Critics said the law will disproportionately affect people of color.

Adeel Hassan

May 10, 2021

[This story has been edited for length].

https://www.nytimes.com/article/florida-voting-law.html

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, signednew voting restrictionsinto law on Thursday, reducing voting access in one of the nation’s critical battleground states.

The law took effect immediately, and will be in force for the 2022 election, when Mr. DeSantis is up for re-election.

Florida, which former President Donald J. Trump won by about three percentage points in 2020, is the latestRepublican-controlled state, following Georgia, Montana and Iowa, to impose new hurdles to casting a ballot after November’s elections.

Voting rights experts and Democrats say that some provisions of the new law will disproportionately affect voters of color.

Here’s a guide to how the law changes voting in Florida.

What are the changes in the new law?

The law,Senate Bill 90, limits the use of drop boxes where voters can deposit absentee ballots, and adds more identification requirements for anyone requesting an absentee ballot. It also requires voters to request an absentee ballot for each two-year election cycle, rather than every four years, under the previous law. Additionally, it limits who can collect and drop off ballots.

The law also expands a current rule that prohibits outside groups from holding signs or wearing political paraphernalia within 150 feet of a polling place or drop box, “with the intent to influence voters,” an increase from the previous 100 feet.

Why are people upset?

The new law weakens key parts of an extensive voting infrastructure that was built up slowly after the state’s chaotic 2000 election. In 2020, that infrastructure allowed Florida to ramp up quickly to accommodate absentee balloting and increased drop boxes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Voters of color are most reliant on after-hours drop boxes, critics of the law say, as it’s often more difficult for them to both take hours off during the day and to organize transportation to polling places.

Republican legislators promoting the bill offered little evidence of election fraud, and argued for limiting access despite their continued claims that the state’s 2020 election was the “gold standard” for the country.

Florida has a popular tradition of voting by mail: In the 2016 and 2018 elections, nearly a third of the state’s voters cast ballots through the mail.

What can we expect to happen next?

Voting rights groups filed lawsuits shortly after Mr. DeSantis signed the bill into law during a live broadcast on a Fox News morning program.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans joined in one suit, arguing that “Senate Bill 90 does not impede all of Florida’s voters equally.”

“It is crafted to and will operate to make it more difficult for certain types of voters to participate in the state’s elections, including those voters who generally wish to vote with a vote-by-mail ballot and voters who have historically had to overcome substantial hurdles to reach the ballot box, such as Florida’s senior voters, youngest voters, and minority voters.”

Another suit was brought by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Disability Rights Florida and Common Cause, who argued that the law violates constitutional protections and the 1965 Voting Rights Act

 

Florida’s New Election Law: A Missed Opportunity

By Collier Fernekes and Matthew Weil

May 11, 2021

https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/floridas-new-election-law-a-missed-opportunity/

[Excerpts]

Other requirements in SB90 for voter registration are mixed. The new law requires that the applications completed during third-party drives go to the supervisor of elections in the county in which the voter resides, complicating efforts by groups or universities who are registering many voters from across the state and risking errors that could be avoided by allowing one central return location, as required by the National Voter Registration Act. Fines imposed for mistakes will also be a deterrent for groups making good faith efforts to register voters in a state without automatic voter registration, another BPC recommendation. However, this change will also make it easier for supervisors of elections to process these applications, especially those who were saddled with the high costs of sorting registrations to the appropriate county supervisor.

Penalizing Election Administrators

While the front-end changes for voters are minimal, election officials will have to plan for a new reality in 2022. The new law limits the use of private funding for any purpose in elections. In 2020, more than $500 million in private funds flowed to nonpartisan election administration activities across the country, money that absolutely made a difference to election administrators in Florida and nationwide. Further, the law addresses the handing out of food or water to voters in long lines within 150 ft of a polling place, drop box, or early voting site, which could become more prevalent with diminished vote by mail options.

It also creates new penalties on election officials as they carry out their jobs. For example, if a drop box is left unattended and a voter uses it or if it is utilized after hours of operation, the supervisor can be assessed personally with a $25,000 fine; a penalty not befitting of the act, especially in the event of an inadvertent error or misunderstanding on behalf of the voter about the rules governing drop boxes

This bill touches on a few areas of election administration reform, but it does not comprehensively improve the voting experience for Floridians, which is ultimately a missed chance for good, substantive policy changes. As with any new voter law, there’s some good and some bad. However, when election laws are changed by one party alone using some hard-to-define rationales and without even the backing of the most expert of the state’s citizens—the supervisors of elections who are elected to administer free and fair elections—it’s hard to come out ahead.

 

Georgia (Mocking its State Motto: “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation”?)

 

“The Supreme Court and Young Voter Turnout”

NYT:

Georgia, with its long history of the suppression of Black voters, has been ground zero for fights about voting rights laws for decades. The state has often seen stark differences in turnout between white and nonwhite communities, with the latter typically voting at a much lower rate.

But not always: In the 2012 election, when Barack Obama won a second term in the White House, the turnout rate for Black voters under 38 in Lowndes County — a Republican-leaning county in southern Georgia — was actually four percentage points higher than the rate for white voters of a similar age.

It proved to be temporary. According to new research by Michael Podhorzer, the former political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., by 2020, turnout for younger white voters in Lowndes was 14 percentage points higher than for Black voters of the same age.

What happened in between? It is impossible to tell for certain, with many variables, such as Obama no longer being on the ballot.

But a growing body of evidence points to a pivotal 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, that knocked down a core section of the Voting Rights Act. The court effectively ended a provision requiring counties and states with a history of racial discrimination at the polls — including all of Georgia — to obtain permission from the Justice Department before changing voting laws or procedures.

Race is an ever present source of tension in Trump Georgia case

March 14, 2024 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2024/03/14/fani-willis-racism-trump-georgia-case/

Opinion Columnist

[Excerpt:]

Amid the constant drumbeat of sensational news stories — the scandals, the legal rulings, the wild political gambits — it’s sometimes easy to overlook the deeper trends that are shaping American life. For example, are you aware how much the constant threat of violence, principally from MAGA sources, is now warping American politics? If you wonder why so few people in red America seem to stand up directly against the MAGA movement, are you aware of the price they might pay if they did?

Late last month, I listened to a fascinating NPR interview with the journalists Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman regarding their new book, “Find Me the Votes,” about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. They report that Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis had trouble finding lawyers willing to help prosecute her case against Trump. Even a former Georgia governor turned her down, saying, “Hypothetically speaking, do you want to have a bodyguard follow you around for the rest of your life?”

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/18/opinion/magas-violent-threats-are-warping-life-in-america.html

 

“True the Vote fails to reveal evidence of Georgia voting fraud claims”

AJC:

Bombastic claims of voting fraud in the right-wing conspiracy movie “2000 Mules” sounded alarming, and Georgia election officials wanted to get to the bottom of it.

If there really was a massive plot to stuff ballot drop boxes and rig the 2020 presidential election, wouldn’t the conservative organization behind the allegation, True the Vote, help investigators prove it?

Instead, True the Vote said in a recent court filing it doesn’t know the identity of its own anonymous source who told a story of a “ballot trafficking” scheme allegedly organized by a network of unnamed groups paying $10 per ballot delivered.

True the Vote also told the court last month it doesn’t have any documents about illegal ballot collection, the name of its purported informant, or confidentiality agreements it previously said existed. The records were subpoenaed by the State Election Board in 2022.

Georgia election officials and voters are left to wonder whether True the Vote and “2000 Mules” told the truth — or if they were drumming up outrage based on vague suspicions and an unnamed whistleblower, fueling suspicions about Democrat Joe Biden’s win over Republican Donald Trump.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” said Matt Mashburn, a Republican former acting chairman of the State Election Board. “It’s odd to have someone make an allegation and then fight so hard to hold onto the truth of that allegation.”

 

“Georgia Republican Party official denies voting fraud charges in court”

AJC:

A top Georgia Republican Party official and talk show host accused of election fraud, Brian K. Pritchard, testified Friday that he never voted illegally while serving a felony sentence for forging checks, but state attorneys showed evidence that he repeatedly voted after his probation had been revoked.

Pritchard, the first vice chairman for the state Republican Party, allegedly broke the law when he voted in nine Georgia elections from 2008 to 2010. Georgia law prohibits felons from voting, and attorneys for the state said Pritchard’s probation didn’t end until 2011.

“There is nothing to the allegations,” Pritchard said after the hearing in the Gilmer County Courthouse. ”I’m just disappointed that this much time is being put into this effort for me when there’s real voter fraud out there, and real things that need to be investigated.”

Pritchard told a judge he thought he had completed his three-year probation sentence in Pennsylvania in 1999, and he wouldn’t have voted in Georgia if he knew his probation had been repeatedly extended over the years while a collection agency sought payment.

“Bill would allow Georgia election investigations of Raffensperger”

AJC:

A Republican-sponsored bill introduced Friday would empower the State Election Board to investigate Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a response to the board’s decision last month not to open an inquiry.

The measure would also remove Raffensperger, a Republican, as a non-voting member of the State Election Board and require him to cooperate with investigations.

The legislation, Senate Bill 358, comes after the board deadlocked on whether to pursue complaints by conservative activists who blame Raffensperger for human errors in Fulton County’s manual audit of the 2020 election. The problems, including over 3,000 double-counted and misallocated votes, didn’t change the overall outcome of the statewide audit, which confirmed Democrat Joe Biden’s win over Republican Donald Trump.

 

A New Player in Coffee County

Anna Bower
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Omissions by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation cast further doubt on its work product.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With
Brookings

https://www.lawfaremedia.org/article/what-else-the-gbi-missed-in-coffee-county

[Excerpt:]

Earlier this week, Lawfare published my lengthy review of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) report on the unauthorized copying of voting equipment in Coffee County, Georgia. For 13 months, the statewide law enforcement agency investigated potential crimes related to the voting system breach that occurred in Coffee County in January 2021. The GBI’s investigation, which was carried out separately from the investigation by the Fulton County district attorney’s office, resulted in a 392-page report. The report is now in the hands of Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr, who will decide whether to pursue charges based on its findings. 

The report, as I wrote on Monday, seems to reflect a badly inadequate investigation. The agency failed to seek interviews with key witnesses and relied almost entirely on the previous work of civil litigants and the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Most concerningly, the document contains glaring factual omissions, which I cataloged in detail. 

But, as it turns out, the document omits more details than I reported. 

Since we published that story a few days ago, Lawfare obtained additional documents acquired by the GBI during its investigation. The documents, recently filed with a magistrate judge in a matter related to a civil suit called Curling v. Raffensperger, contain relevant details not captured in the GBI report. And they raise questions about the previously unknown involvement of an individual—a lawyer named Robert Cheeley—who is already indicted in Fulton County for conduct separate from the Coffee County caper as a part of the alleged racketeering case brought by district attorney Fani Willis.

 

What the GBI Missed in Coffee County

Anna Bower
Tuesday, November 28, 2023

At almost 400 pages, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation report on the Coffee County caper looks impressive. It’s not.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With
Brookings

https://www.lawfaremedia.org/article/what-the-gbi-missed-in-coffee-county

[Excerpt:]

When a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, returned a sprawling indictment against Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants, the document included an astonishing allegation: The president’s legal team, aided by local officials and party loyalists, plotted to unlawfully copy and disseminate the state’s voting machine software in rural Coffee County, Georgia. They did this, the indictment alleges, as part of the larger alleged plot to overturn the legitimate results of an election that Trump had lost.

The Fulton County indictment charged four of the 19 original defendants with discrete crimes related to the voting systems breach in Coffee County. Two of the individuals charged, Scott Hall and Sidney Powell, recently pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to unauthorized access to voting systems. Two others, Cathy Latham and Misty Hampton, have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial with the other defendants.

Fulton County prosecutors, however, are not the only investigators interested in Coffee County. In August 2022, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)—a state-level investigative department—began investigating allegations of computer trespass and other crimes related to unauthorized access to voting equipment in Coffee County. 

The agency recently completed its 13-month investigation, culminating in a 392-page investigative report, which is now in the hands of Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr. He will decide whether to pursue charges based on its findings.

Earlier this month, Lawfare obtained a copy of the document and published it.

In the weeks prior to its publication, other media outlets reported on the contents of the document. The New Yorker wrote that the report paints a “robust picture” of Sidney Powell’s involvement in the breach. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution referred to the document as “exhaustive,” though an updated version of the story dropped that descriptor.

And for good reason.

 

“An unlikely trio of Trump supporters are now his defiant co-defendants”

WaPo piece, with the subhead: “A pastor, a publicist and a political activist tried to pressure an election worker to falsely confess to voter fraud. They, along with Trump, now face criminal charges in Georgia.” More:

Sitting on the stage of an evangelical church for a fundraiser held in his honor, the Rev. Stephen Lee spoke about the criminal charges he faces in Georgia for allegedly trying tohelp Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election. Bathed in purple light, the 71-year-old said he would not accept a plea deal, as four of his co-defendants have.

“I’m not going to plead out to a lie,” Lee said Thursday. “I’m not going to cooperate with evil. I’m not going to do something that is going to eat away or destroy our First Amendment rights. … This is the Lord’s battle, and we’ve got to fight it.”

Lee is accused of conspiring with the hip-hop publicist Trevian Kutti and former Trump campaign staffer Harrison Floyd to try to coerce a Georgia election worker into falsely confessing to helping rig the 2020 election for Joe Biden.

This unlikely trio are among the least-known Trump supporters facing charges in Fulton County. Their indictments show how Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election pulled in Americans from many walks of life — not just elected officials and high-powered lawyers, but also low-level campaign staffers and ordinary supporters.

Even as more-prominent defendants, including lawyers Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis, have pleaded guilty in the case, these threehave signaled that they arewilling to stand by the former president as he continues to claim falsely that the 2020 election was stolen, even if that means facing prison time. Theyhave become inspirations to Trump’s most ardent fans, especially as they continue to fundraise to pay their lawyers.

Scott Hall, a Trump supporter who is among the 19 people charged in a racketeering case involving the former president, is the first defendant to plead guilty.

Richard Fausset and 

Richard Fausset reported from Atlanta and Danny Hakim reported from Virginia.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/29/us/georgia-trump-scott-hall-guilty-plea

[Excerpt:]

One of the 19 defendants in a Georgia racketeering case against former President Donald J. Trump and his allies pleaded guilty on Friday to five misdemeanor charges, under a deal with prosecutors in which he would receive five years of probation.

The guilty plea of Scott Hall, 59, a Georgia bail bondsman, was a significant victory for Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, who secured an agreement from Mr. Hall to testify against other defendants. No other defendants have taken pleas; two of them, the lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, are scheduled to be tried together starting next month after demanding speedy trials.

 

“Houston-area elections office dismantled as contentious Texas law takes effect”

CNN:

The election administrator’s office in Texas’ most populous county – Harris County, which is home to Houston – has been dismantled to comply with a new state law passed by Republican legislators that officially takes effect Friday.

The law, known as SB 1750, shifts responsibility for elections and voter registration to the county clerk and the county tax assessor-collector. Critics have cast the measure, along with a second newly enacted law, as a power grab by Texas’ GOP-led legislature to disrupt how elections are run in an increasingly blue bastion of this traditionally red state.

The elimination of the election administrator’s position comes just weeks before the start of early voting in the race for Houston mayor and other local offices, and it marks one of several efforts by Republicans around the country to exert more control over election administration ahead of 2024’s consequential presidential and congressional contests.

A separate state law – known as SB 1933 and also passed this year – authorizes the Texas secretary of state, who is appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, to order “administrative oversight” of a county elections office, if complaints are filed and there’s reason to believe there’s a recurring pattern of problems with election administration.

SB 1750 and SB 1933 apply to counties with a population of more than 3.5 million and 4 million people, respectively – criteria met only by Harris County.

“Judge partially strikes down Georgia ban on giving voters food and water in polling lines”

Ned blogged about a different aspect of this decision last week.

From CNN:

A federal judge on Friday narrowed a section of Georgia election law that banned the practice of handing out food and water to voters waiting in line to cast ballots, as well as halted enforcement of a requirement that voters put their birth dates on the outer envelope of their ballots.

US District Judge J.P. Boulee, however, declined requests from the legal challengers of the state’s 2021 election overhaul legislation that he block aspects of the law that limited who could deliver an absentee ballot on behalf of another voter and that set restrictions on where ballot drop boxes could be set up.

His ruling on so-called line-warming allowed the ban to still be enforced in what he dubbed the “buffer zone” around a polling place, within 150 feet of the building where ballots are being cast. But he paused enforcement of the ban in the “supplemental zone,” or additional areas that are within 25 feet of a voter standing in line.

“Central to this conclusion was the fact that, unlike the Buffer Zone’s reasonable 150-foot radius, the Supplemental Zone has no boundary,” he wrote. “S.B. 202 prohibits organizations (such as Plaintiffs) from engaging in line relief activities in the Supplemental Zone, i.e., if they are within twenty-five feet of a voter—even if the organizations are outside the 150-foot Buffer Zone.”

 

Georgia indictment sharpens rift between Trump and the Peach State

BY CAROLINE VAKIL

August 20, 2023

Former President Trump’s indictment in a Fulton County probe this week is putting the spotlight once again on Georgia, a crucial swing state Trump lost in 2020 that could pose a hurdle for the party again in 2024.

Trump’s 2020 loss in Georgia ended the 24-year red streak in the state, whose majority of voters had selected Republican presidential candidates since 1996. The 2020 election cycle also cost the party two winnable Senate seats, and Republicans later failed to regain one of those seats in last year’s midterms.

Read the full story here

 

Georgia indictment reminds voters of the Republicans who stood up to Trump

BY NIALL STANAGE

August 20, 2023

The latest indictment of former President Trump, in Georgia, differs from the other three cases he faces in one key respect.

The case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) shines a light on the role Republican officials played in pushing back on Trump’s false claims of election fraud and thwarting his plans to overturn the result.

Read the full story here

The story of Rico and Rudy
By Richard Galant August 20, 2023https://view.newsletters.cnn.com[Excerpts:]

It was RICO that brash young federal prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani used to craft an all-encompassing indictment against the heads of New York’s  organized crime families in 1985.

Thirty years later, it was Georgia’s version of RICO that Fani Willis, a rising prosecutor in the Fulton County district attorney’s office, used to convict 11 people of racketeering in the Atlanta test score cheating scandal.And it was the same law that Willis, now the county’s district attorney, used to indict Giuliani last week, along with former President Donald Trump and 17 others, charging them with acting as a racketeering enterprise to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

RICO laws are an especially powerful weapon prosecutors can use to charge a group of people who act together. Evidence of their misdeeds can secure convictions and allow for strict sentences that otherwise couldn’t be imposed.

The 97-page indictment unveiled by Willis last week cites a lot more evidence than could be arrayed against a sandwich served at lunch.

“The indictment paints an incredibly damning picture,” wrote former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers, “alleging an organized attempt by the former president and his allies to undermine the fabric of American democracy — something even the most sympathetic defendant will not easily be able to fight. Trump has denied wrongdoing, as have the other defendants who have made public statements to date.”

“The indictment describes eight ways in which the enterprise intended to achieve its criminal goals, including: making false statements to state legislators; making false statements to state officials; the fake electors scheme; the harassment and intimidation of election workers like Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss; soliciting the Justice Department to make false statements; soliciting the vice president to unlawfully reject Electoral College votes; the unlawful breach of election equipment in Coffee County; and obstruction of justice to cover up the conspiracy.”

 

Preliminary Injunction against Georgia’s Birthdate Requirement on Absentee Ballot Envelopes

Order (via Democracy Docket). The court relied on the “materiality” provision of the Civil Rights Act. Similar issues have arisen recently in Pennsylvania, and provoked an opinion from Justice Alito (as I recall), although the Supreme Court did not address the merits. The Court may need to weigh in on the scope and applicability of this provision before next year’s elections.

Some of the jurors’ identities have been shared on social media, with suggestions that they be harassed or made “infamous.”

Anna BettsJames C. McKinley Jr. and 

Anna Betts and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reported from Atlanta.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/17/us/trump-georgia-grand-jurors

Legal repercussions have arrived for the leaders of the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential contest, in what could serve as a warning to those who meddle in future elections.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/15/us/politics/election-deniers-charges-indictment

[Excerpt:]

The broad indictment includes some of the most prominent figures in the movement to subvert the election: Rudolph W. Giuliani, who presented state legislatures with what he said was evidence of fraud and has continued to make such claims as recently as this month; John C. Eastman, a lawyer and an architect of the scheme to create bogus slates of pro-Trump electors; David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who filed 16 fake electors; and Sidney Powell, a lawyer behind some of the wildest claims about election machines.

[Boldface added]

 

How Trump wrecked the Georgia GOP

August 15, 2023

Politico Nightly

DEMOLITION CREW — Many of the 19 defendants charged in the new Trump indictment are by now familiar names because of their relentless efforts to push phony vote fraud claims or get the 2020 election results overturned in Georgia and elsewhere.

But there are a handful who aren’t well known outside the state, and together they reveal another side of the Georgia story — how Donald Trump wrecked one of the most successful state parties in the nation in just a few short years.

First, let’s rewind to the period before the 2016 presidential election.

At that time, Georgia was as lockdown red as it could be. In 2012, the outcome of the presidential race seemed so predetermined that exit polls weren’t even conducted in Georgia.

For well over a decade, the GOP controlled both legislative chambers and the offices of governor, attorney general and secretary of state. It also had possession of the bulk of the state’s 14 House seats and both U.S. Senate seats.

But in the seven years since Trump first appeared on Georgia’s ballot, the GOP fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

On the surface, not much has changed: Republicans still control state government. But Cobb and Gwinnett counties, once the Atlanta area’s fast-growing, reliably Republican suburban giants, have bolted the GOP camp. Joe Biden won the state in 2020, marking just the second time in 28 years that Georgia voted Democratic for president. And Republicans lost both U.S. Senate seats — in elections where Trump can be said to be the proximate cause of defeat.

In 2024, Georgia figures to be one of the key presidential battleground states.

Meanwhile, the state party is at war with itself, a needless conflagration set off by Trump after top Republicans refused to heed his demands to overturn the 2020 results. Trump vigorously attacked and endorsed primary challengers to both Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both of whom had been thrown under the bus by David Shafer, the former state party chair who now faces eight felony counts.

Shafer is one of three Trump false electors charged in the Fulton County case — the others are state Sen. Shawn Still and former Coffee County GOP chair Cathleen Latham, an influential player in south Georgia Republican politics. Latham was cited in the indictment for her involvement in an alleged scheme to help grant pro-Trump activists unauthorized access to voting equipment in her county.

How deep in the muck is the state Republican Party apparatus? The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported last month that the Georgia GOP spent more than $520,000 in legal expenses in the first six months of 2023 to represent the so-called alternate Republican electors targeted in the Fulton County probe.

Whatever the outcome of the case, the state party will never be the same. In Georgia’s 2022 GOP primary, nearly all of the candidates endorsed by Trump were thrashed at the ballot box. Yet Trump still maintains considerable support within the party’s activist base and leads in early 2024 Georgia presidential primary polls. The rifts between hardline pro-Trump factions and the establishment aren’t going away anytime soon.

That much was clear today after Trump continued making unsubstantiated claims on social media, promising to release “A Large, Complex, Detailed but Irrefutable REPORT on the Presidential Election Fraud which took place in Georgia.”

Kemp, now a second-term governor who draws mention as a presidential prospect himself, had a ready response.

“The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen,” he wrote on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.. “For nearly three years now, anyone with evidence of fraud has failed to come forward – under oath – and prove anything in a court of law. Our elections in Georgia are secure, accessible, and fair and will continue to be as long as I am governor. The future of our country is at stake in 2024 and that must be our focus.”

 

The Trump Georgia Indictment, Annotated

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/08/15/us/politics/trump-georgia-indictment-annotated.html

A grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., on Monday unveiled the fourth criminal indictment of former President Donald J. Trump. Like a federal indictment earlier this month, this one concerns Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss. But it differs in that it charges 18 other defendants who are alleged to have taken part in the scheme.

The 41 Counts in the Georgia Indictment

22 counts
Related to forgery or false documents and statements
8 counts
Related to soliciting or impersonating public officers
3 counts
Related to influencing witnesses
3 counts
Related to election fraud or defrauding the state
3 counts
Related to computer tampering
1 count
Related to racketeering
1 count
Related to perjury

The New York Times is annotating the document.

Download the full PDF.

How Donald Trump tried to undo his loss in Georgia in 2020

[Excerpt:]
Two days after Election Day in 2020, President Donald Trump’s eldest son traveled to the Georgia Republican Party headquarters in Atlanta to deliver a message.
The presidential race was still too close to call in the state and in the country. Georgia Republicans were scrambling to prepare for two runoff elections that would determine control of the U.S. Senate. But Donald Trump Jr. urged them to focus on another task: helping his father win the state by proving that widespread fraud had tainted the results.

 

If you do not support my dad 100 percent, we have a problem, Donald Trump Jr. told the group, a Trump campaign staffer familiar with the meeting testified to the House committee that investigated the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The state party chairman, David Shafer, emerged looking “like he had seen a ghost,” the staffer said.

The message was received. That evening, Republican leaders in Georgia held a rally-style news conference in support of Trump.

The same week, the president’s allies circulated a video falsely accusing a Georgia election worker of throwing away ballots, making her the immediate target of harassment and threats. And White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others began evaluating a plan for how legislatures in states like Georgia could overturn the will of voters.

The rapid series of events kicked off an aggressive pressure campaign that only intensified as weeks passed and the results more and more firmly showed that Trump had lost.

In phone calls, speeches, tweets and media appearances, Trump and his allies pushed to overturn the 2020 election results in six swing states where certified results declared Joe Biden the winner, an effort that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as Congress convened to confirm the results.

Nowhere was the effort more acute than in Georgia, where all of their strategies came together in a complex and multilayered effort that unfolded against the hyperpartisan backdrop of two ongoing U.S. Senate races.

Those close to Trump prodded state officials to identify fraud that would cast Biden’s victory in doubt. In the process, they personally targeted individual election workers with false claims of cheating, unleashing waves of threats, and amplified conspiracy theories about rigged machines that persist today. In the end, after Trump sought to use every lever of power to overturn the results, top state Republicans stood in his way, refusing to buckle under the pressure.

While much of what happened in Georgia has surfaced in leaked recordings, court proceedings and congressional testimony, the fullest story yet could emerge this week, when the district attorney in Fulton County, home to Atlanta, is widely expected to seek an indictment of Trump and those who supported his efforts there.

 

Trump’s election lies and the Republicans who corrected him

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/08/02/trump-lies-2020-election-fraud-indictment/

[Excerpts:]

AsDonald Trump sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, a chorus of top Republicans told him repeatedly that his claims of widespread voter fraud were false.

That pushback now sits at the heart of the federal indictment brought against Trump this week in the Justice Department investigation of his attempts to cling to power.

Special counsel Jack Smith is setting out to show that Trump knew he was lying when he unleashed his torrent of election falsehoods that culminated with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol — an important part for convicting Trump on the four charges he’s facing.

To that end, the indictment lays out a drumbeat of episodes — many of them already public — when Trump was told that bogus statements about fraudulent ballots being counted or votes being flipped to Joe Biden were false. They came from a range of people in his orbit, including White House lawyers, administration appointees, state GOP officials and his campaign staffers. Trump has denied wrongdoing.

The indictment references at least nine administration officials, among others, who told Trump that the election was not stolen or that his schemes to remain in the White House were untenable. The officials are not named in the indictment, but some of their identities can be discerned by matching descriptions of their activities in the indictment with public reporting. Here are the key people who corrected Trump on his election lies and what they said:

Avatar of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse his defeat in the state in an hour-long phone call on Jan. 2, 2021. Raffensperger debunked a number of his false claims, including allegations that thousands of dead people had voted.

“Well, Mr. President,” he said, “the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”

 

Fulton county prosecutors prepare racketeering charges in Trump inquiry

Exclusive: racketeering charges based on influencing witnesses and computer trespass, sources say

July 21, 2023

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jul/21/georgia-trump-charges-fraud-election-2020

 

Letters from an American, Heather Scott Richardson

July 13, 2023

A study by Doug Bock Clark today in ProPublica showed that about 89,000 of close to 100,000 challenges to voter registrations in Georgia were filed by just six right-wing activists. Most of the rest of the challenges came from just twelve more people. Those making the challenges were helped by right-wing organizations, and they appeared to target those believed to vote for Democrats.

House Republicans traveled to Georgia on Monday to reveal what they call the “most conservative election integrity bill to be seriously considered in the House in over 20 years.” Four of the five Republicans on the House Administration Committee pushing the bill voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Committee markup on the bill began today.

 

“Elections director who helped copy Georgia data given similar job”

AJC:

The South Georgia election director who allowed tech experts to copy the state’s voting software in the wake of the 2020 presidential race was hired to run a special election in another rural county soon afterward, leading investigators to confiscate its election server this spring.

The decision to hire Misty Hampton in Treutlen County has drawn scrutiny from county commissioners who question why their county manager, a Republican candidate for secretary of state last year, would employ Hampton after she was forced out from Coffee County.

Security camera video showed that Hampton permitted confidential election data to be copied by computer analysts hired by Sidney Powell, who was an attorney for Donald Trump, in January 2021. The data was later distributed through a file-sharing website to conspiracy theorists who denied the results of the presidential election, which Trump lost.

No one involved in the incident is facing criminal charges so far, but the GBI has been investigating since last August, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has indicated she could soon announce charges related to whether Trump and his allies criminally interfered with the 2020 election.

Investigators for the secretary of state’s office took Treutlen County’s elections server in April after learning Hampton had managed special elections there in spring 2021. It’s unknown whether Hampton allowed outside access to elections equipment in Treutlen as she did in Coffee.

 

“Georgia poll workers accused in Trump-backed conspiracy theories cleared of election fraud allegations”

ABC News:

‘As part of their probe, Georgia Elections Board investigators interviewed a social media user who “admitted he created a fake account and confirmed the content that was posted on the account was fake,” the new report said.

‘Von DuBose, the attorney representing Freeman and Moss, said in a statement following the release of the report, “This serves as further evidence that Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss — while doing their patriotic duty and serving their community — were simply collateral damage in a coordinated effort to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election.” …

‘”We are glad the State Election Board finally put this issue to rest,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement.

‘”False claims and knowingly false allegations made against these election workers have done tremendous harm,” Raffensperger said. “Election workers deserve our praise for being on the front lines.”‘

 

Raffensperger calls on GOP to elect ‘principled’ leaders ahead of Trump’s Georgia speech

The former president is under scrutiny for a 2021 phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state asking him to “find” enough votes to secure his victory in the state.

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/10/raffensperger-gop-trump-indictment-georgia-speech-00101396

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called on the GOP to “coalesce” and elect “principled” leaders ahead of Donald Trump’s trip to the state Saturday, the former president’s first public appearance since his second criminal indictment.

Raffensperger gained national prominence after his Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Trump during which the former president asked him to “find” enough votes to secure his victory in the state’s 2020 presidential election vote count.

“The party really has to coalesce and we need to be focused on broad-based coalitions,” Raffensperger said on Fox News, noting his and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s overwhelming victories in the last election. “That’s how you win and that’s how Republicans win not only in Georgia, but nationwide — particularly as things are more competitive.”

Without concretely expressing support for the government’s criminal case against Trump, Raffensperger said “I support the rule of law,” and called on Republicans to “find leaders that are principled when they hold themselves up.”

While Raffensperger stressed he is “looking for someone that’s a principled leader with integrity,” when pressed he evaded saying definitively whether he would vote for Trump if he were to be the party’s 2024 presidential nominee. Raffensperger responded only by repeating that he’s “looking for principled leadership.”

Raffensperger testified before the Jan. 6 committee last June. The secretary and other state election officials appeared before a grand jury last year as part of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation into whether Trump and others illegally tried to meddle in the 2020 election in the state.

Speaking later Saturday at the Georgia state Republican convention, Trump repeated his frequent refrain that his phone call to Raffensperger was “perfect.”

Raffensperger confirmed that he was not invited to Trump’s speech.

“For some reason the constitutional officers — statewide elected Republican office-holders — were not invited to the event,” he quipped.

 

“Georgia GOP elects election deniers to key posts”

Greg Bluestein and Mark Niesse of the Atlantic Journal-Constitution report. Amy Gardner has a related report in the Washington Post. As these are party not government officials, it is unclear what implications if any these election denialists will have on the administration of the 2024 election in Georgia, other than potentially to foment distrust in the outcome among the party’s base if the party’s candidates lose (which itself is reason for ongoing concern). It is noteworthy, as both pieces report, that neither Governor Kemp nor Secretary of State Raffensperger attended the state party convention where the denialists prevailed, indicating the ongoing rift between these two wings of GOP.

 

“Georgia probe of Trump broadens to activities in other states”

From the WP:

An Atlanta-area investigation of alleged election interference by former president Donald Trump and his allies has broadened to include activities in Washington, D.C., and several other states, according to two people with knowledge of the probe — a fresh sign that prosecutors may be building a sprawling case under Georgia’s racketeering laws.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) launched an investigation more than two years ago to examine efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn his narrow 2020 defeat in Georgia.Along the way, she has signaled publicly that she may use Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute to allege that these efforts amounted to a far-reaching criminal scheme.

In recent days, Willis has sought information related to the Trump campaign hiring two firms to find voter fraud across the United States and then burying their findings when they did not find it, allegations that reach beyond Georgia’s borders, said the two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the investigation. At least one of the firms has been subpoenaed by Fulton County investigators.

 

“Georgia plans security checks of voting equipment before ’24 elections”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Voting equipment across Georgia will undergo security “health checks” ahead of the 2024 presidential election, including efforts to verify that software hasn’t been altered, according to a plan announced Friday by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Voting touchscreens, ballot scanners, and election management systems will be tested to ensure they’re operating correctly and haven’t been tampered with.

The decision to examine Georgia’s voting equipment follows revelations last year that supporters of then-President Donald Trump paid tech experts to copy the state’s election software in Coffee County in early 2021. Raffensperger’s office replaced Coffee County’s voting equipment last fall.

 

“Fulton DA teases possible August charges in Trump probe”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis hinted that she might seek indictments in early to mid-August in her long-running inquiry of former President Donald Trump and his allies.

The timetable was disclosed in a Thursday letter to Ural Glanville, Fulton Superior Court’s chief judge, and 20 other county officials. Willis detailed 10 days during the three-week period between July 31 and August 18 in which she plans to direct a large percentage of her staff to work remotely.

You can see the letter here.

 

“Trump 2020 lawyer indicated he may be target of Fulton County probe, court docs say”

Kyle Cheney in Politico:

Ray Smith III, a lawyer who represented President Donald Trump in litigation aimed at reversing Georgia’s 2020 election results, has indicated he may be a target of Atlanta-area District Attorney Fani Willis’ criminal probe.

Smith’s attorney, Bruce Morris, characterized Smith as “something between a target and witness” in Willis’ nearly completed investigation, according to documents filed Wednesday in a federal civil lawsuit in Washington D.C. That characterization was revealed by lawyers for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit — two former Georgia election workers who are suing Rudy Giuliani for defamation.

 

“The Jolt: Georgia megadonor tells Trump attorney [Cleta Mitchell] election was clean”

Lauren Windsor with another audio reveal from the Cleta Mitchell conversation to RNC donors. More here at the AJC.

From a donor apparently identified as Tommy Bagwell, to the assembled crowd:

I’m one of the largest donors to Trump in the state of Georgia.  Not anymore.  But one of the worst things you can do in this stuff is start repeating and promoting stuff that absolutely just didn’t happen.  And the Georgia election was pretty damn clean.  I’ll defend a lot of it, if you want to, on a sidebar. 

But Dominion voting machines connecting to the internet and talking to Chavez is beyond insane.  It didn’t happen.  We printed hard copy ballots and you got a hard copy of what you electronically voted.  You looked at it and when you turned it in, they printed it and said, “Now, you see this is your ballot that you’ve marked, and it’s printed, and it’s counted, and it’s locked.”  That was clean.  Everything — especially that Mr. Trump promoted — that I heard was roundly and convincingly debunked.  The big eruption of the water pipes – no, it didn’t happen.  The rollaboard suitcases under the tables – and here we have video of ‘em pulling out – didn’t happen.  Those were official locked boxes.  I’ve seen high definition, high resolution videos where you zoom in and that was what it was supposed to be.  It goes on and on and on. …

Ballots getting mailed out: didn’t happen in Georgia.  They don’t mail out ballots, they mail out applications for ballots.  So everything that I could – everything I could hear that I could look at and I could talk to different people, not all of ‘em were Democrats – and it was just debunked. . . .

[Then Mitchell responds.  Bagwell later interjects:]

You really kind of misinterpreted what I said.  What I said about those bins was correct.  What I said about the plumbing was correct. … I was just trying to tell the audience to know what they were talking about, because I had so many of my close friends – I’m one of the reddest state, reddest voters, in the reddest county, in the reddest state, I mean the reddest county in the state, and I’m on the team – but I don’t like to say something unless I absolutely know.  The way I was raised up in north Georgia is, you don’t ever call someone a thief or a liar unless by God, you’ve got proof, or there’s going to be a fistfight, right then. … So all I’m saying is that all of those things that were running around all over north Georgia – and close friends and my wife – have been debunked.

All of the audio from the excerpt, including the parts I’ve excised and Mitchell’s intervention in the middle, is online.

Prosecutors are nearing charging decisions after investigating whether former President Donald J. Trump and his allies illegally meddled in Georgia’s 2020 election.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/05/us/trump-georgia-election-investigation

More than half of the bogus Georgia electors who were convened in December 2020 to try to keep former President Donald J. Trump in power have taken immunity deals in the investigation into election interference there, according to a court filing on Friday and people with knowledge of the inquiry.

 

Trump’s Fake Georgia Electors Are Now Ratting on Each Other

The fake GOP electors Trump recruited in Georgia are now turning on each other, according to new court documents.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-fake-georgia-electors-are-now-ratting-on-each-other
[Excerpt:]

The list is a “who’s who” of Georgia politics. Amick, Consiglio, and Still have been members of the Georgia Republican Foundation, a fundraising group that attends VIP dinners and touts connections to Trump and his associates. Carver is a lobbyist who serves as the GOP’s chairman in Georgia’s 11th congressional district. Brannan is the state’s GOP treasurer. Fisher is the state GOP’s first vice chairwoman. Godwin is an activist who founded Georgia Conservatives in Action. Yadav worked on Kelly Loeffler’s failed Senate bid.

Meanwhile, Latham was previously the top GOP official in a rural Georgia County who coordinated a secret operation to have conspiracy theorists examine local election system computers in early 2021—one that was exposed by The Daily Beast and is now under investigation.

During an hour-long interview last year, she lied repeatedly about her role in putting together the covert mission, which involved having computer forensics experts charter a private plane to the small town and enter a county building to tap into government servers. But text messages and public records revealed she was central to orchestrating the plan.

Now that some of these Republicans seem willing to expose their colleagues’ roles in the fake elector scheme, Debrow’s connections to them “poses a serious risk to the fundamental principle of confidentiality of information,” the DA argued. Willis asked Judge Robert C.I. McBurney to block Debrow “from any further participation” in the case, given that she knows too much already about what others have done.

Willis is leading what is widely considered the most clear-cut criminal investigation of Trump’s Big Lie in 2020, when he used his presidential campaign and lawyers to conduct an all-out assault on the nation’s elections system. Her investigation initially focused on Trump’s menacing Jan. 2, 2021 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where he pressured the elections official to “find 11,780 votes.” That investigation has since expanded to review the actions across the state to undermine the 2020 elections there.

Trump moves to quash Georgia election probe

Former President Trump is moving to quash a Georgia investigation into his efforts to influence the outcome of the 2020 election, seeking to bar the use of any evidence presented to a grand jury reviewing the matter.

In a 50-page filing in a Fulton County court, Trump’s attorneys blasted the investigation as “confusing, flawed, and, at times, blatantly unconstitutional.”

 

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

March 16, 2023

heathercoxrichardson@substack.com

[Excerpt:]

Yesterday, Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, investigating the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state, heard yet another recording of former president Trump pushing a key lawmaker—in this case, Georgia House speaker David Ralston—to convene a special session of the legislature to overturn Biden’s victory. 

One juror recalled that Ralston “basically cut the president off. He said, ‘I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate.’ … He just basically took the wind out of the sails.” Ralston, who died last November, did not call a special session. 

This is the third such recorded call. One was with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, and another was with the lead investigator in Raffensperger’s office. Ralston had reported the call, but it was not public knowledge that there was a recording of it.

 

“Little-Known Lawyer, a Trump Ally, Draws Scrutiny in Georgia’; A special grand jury looking into election meddling interviewed Robert Cheeley, a sign that false claims made by Donald J. Trump’s allies loom large in the case.”

NYT reports.

 

Georgia Grand Jury Recommends Indictments for Witnesses In Trump Election Case

The report doesn’t say whether Trump himself should be indicted for interfering in the 2020 election, but jurors said witnesses who lied about what happened should be prosecuted.

“Jan. 6 documents: Georgia legislators answered Trump’s call to overturn election”

AJC:

With his chances of winning Georgia slipping away in December 2020, then-President Donald Trump hit upon a novel scheme to stay in power: State legislators would name him the winner.

So, while his allies spun dubious tales of voting fraud at the Georgia Capitol, Trump’s campaign called nearly 120 Republican legislators to ask whether they would appoint a slate of presidential electors who would vote for Trump instead of Democrat Joe Biden. A log of those phone calls recently released by congressional investigators shows some lawmakers were eager to help.

“Hell, yes,” said one. “100%,” replied another. “Very supportive and ready to go,” a third lawmaker told the campaign.

In all, about 30 Republican legislators expressed some level of support for allowing the General Assembly to name Trump the winner of the presidential election, according to the call log. The log and other documents released by investigators suggest scores of other lawmakers also may have supported the plan.

The documents appear to offer the fullest picture yet of Trump’s effort to pressure legislators to help him overturn the election — and the willingness of lawmakers to go along with that plan.

Some lawmakers say the documents are not accurate. Fourteen legislators the Trump campaign identified as supporting his plan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they either do not remember receiving such a call or said they never supported a plan to appoint Trump electors.

“I do think there were some issues with the election,” said state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton. “But that was not the way to go.”

No legislator contacted by the AJC admitted to taking the Trump campaign’s call or supporting his plan.Seventeen lawmakers the campaign identified as supporting Trump’s plan did not respond to requests for comment or could not be reached.

The reluctance of some lawmakers to talk about Trump’s plan is in stark contrast to the climate that gripped the Georgia Capitol in the wake of the 2020 election. With the president demanding loyalty and bullying politicians who failed to get in line, plenty of Georgia lawmakers were willing to publicly support his efforts. Calls to convene a special session to tighten voting rules quickly evolved into calls for legislators to “take back the power to appoint electors.”

The congressional documents don’t reveal the stance of every Republican lawmaker, and they don’t necessarily reflect how legislators would have voted if given the chance to overturn the election. That chance never came — Gov. Brian Kemp and legislative leaders rejected calls to convene a special session that would have allowed the General Assembly to name Trump the winner.

But the documents suggest plenty of lawmakers were ready to reject the will of a majority of Georgia voters on the flimsiest of pretenses.

Despite record-high national turnout this year, data from Georgia indicates these numbers don’t tell the whole story. White turnout was 8.6 percentage points higher than nonwhite turnout in the state’s midterms — Georgia’s widest gap in any general election in the past decade. It’s an important reminder that high turnout is not equally shared by all voters.
Georgia grand jury investigating Trump election interference is winding down and has begun writing final report

By , CNN

 

Special counsel sends Trump subpoena to Ga. secretary of state Raffensperger

State or local officials in the contested battlegrounds where former president Donald Trump tried to reverse his defeat have received similar subpoenas

 

Trump signed statement alleging voter fraud knowing it was false, judge says

Document was part of lawsuit challenging results of 2020 election in Georgia

Donald Trump signed a legal statement alleging voter fraud in the 2020 election despite being told the numbers underpinning the case were false, a federal judge said on Wednesday.

The disclosure was made by the US district judge David Carter, who ordered John Eastman, a former Trump lawyer, to provide more emails to the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Eastman was one of Trump’s attorneys when the former president and his allies challenged his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

The legal document was part of a lawsuit by Trump’s team challenging the results in Georgia, a state Trump narrowly lost to Biden, in which they claimed a Georgia county had improperly counted more than 10,000 votes of dead people, felons and unregistered voters.

In an 18-page opinion, Carter said that the former president had “signed a verification swearing under oath” that the inaccurate fraud numbers were “true and correct” or “believed to be true and correct” to the best of his knowledge.

“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” the judge wrote, adding: “The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

Carter previously ruled that Eastman and Trump had probably committed a felony by trying to pressure his then vice-president, Mike Pence, to obstruct Congress.

The ruling was made in a lawsuit filed by Eastman to block disclosure of the emails to the January 6 select committee, following a congressional subpoena.

Carter previously ordered Eastman to provide over 200 emails to the committee, after the lawyer resisted the subpoena and claimed that the communications were privileged.

The judge said on Wednesday that the vast majority of emails still being sought by congressional investigators should not be handed over, as legal protections given to attorneys and their clients apply to the records.

He said eight emails that would normally be shielded under those protections must be given to the committee, after he found that the communications were in furtherance of a crime – one of the few times those legal safeguards can be lifted.

Carter found that four emails show that Eastman and other lawyers suggested that the “primary goal” of filing lawsuits was to delay Congress’s certification of the 2020 election results.

The judge said four other emails “demonstrate an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to press false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the January 6 vote”.

At one point, Eastman wrote that although the former president had signed documents related to a lawsuit in Georgia on 1 December, “he has since been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate. For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.”

Carter wrote: “President Trump and his attorneys ultimately filed the complaint with the same inaccurate numbers without rectifying, clarifying, or otherwise changing them.”

Trump and his allies filed over 60 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election, with some complaints alleging voter fraud without evidence to support those claims. Those cases were overwhelmingly rejected by judges, some of which Trump appointed to the federal courts.

The January 6 select committee last week voted to subpoena Trump in its investigation. It is expected to issue a report in the coming weeks on its findings.

 

“Trump Allies Challenging Georgia Voters To Suppress Midterm Turnout”

Steven Rosenfeld:

On August 29, eight cartons of notarized paperwork challenging 25,000 voter registrations were delivered by pro-Donald Trump “election integrity” activists to Gwinnett County’s election offices in suburban Atlanta. They were accompanied by additional paperwork claiming that 15,000 absentee ballots had been illegally mailed to voters before the county’s 2020 presidential election.

Two days later, the activists held a briefing on the filings. It was led by Garland Favorito, a soft-spoken retired information technology professional who has been agitating in Georgia election circles for 20 years and heads a non-profit called VoterGA. Favorito began by citing six lawsuits the group has filed against state and county officials – claiming counterfeit ballots, untrustworthy or illegal voting systems, and corrupt 2022 primary results. Then he turned to Gwinnett County.

“We are delivering today 37,500 affidavits challenging voter rolls and handling of the 2020 election,” said Favorito. “As a reminder, the presidential spread for the entire state of Georgia was 11,000 and change, not quite 12,000 [votes]. And we have 20,000 [allegedly improper voter registrations] just in Gwinnett alone. This number will increase as our analysis is ongoing.”

The Gwinnett challenges are not unique. In Georgia’s Democratic epicenters, Trump backers have been filing voter roll challenges since last winter targeting upwards of 65,000 voters. The state’s post-2020 election “reform” bill, S.B. 202, authored by its GOP-led legislature, allows an unlimited number of challenges.

While most of the claims put forth by Voter GA are easily refuted, the challenges individually targeting voters could have an impact in suppressing some number of votes this fall in Georgia, where polls find some statewide contests are very close.

Georgia county validates thousands of voters challenged by Trump allies

September 22, 2022

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/georgia-county-validates-thousands-voters-challenged-by-trump-allies-2022-09-22/

[Excerpts:]

Sept 21 (Reuters) – A Georgia county has validated 15,000 to 20,000 registered voters whose status was challenged ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm election, officials said on Wednesday, leaving another 16,000 pending cases to resolve, according to the group leading the challenge.

The voter challenge campaign in Gwinnett County, a suburb of Atlanta, is led by VoterGA, which backs Donald Trump’s false claims that widespread fraud cost him the 2020 election. Supported by prominent allies of the former president, VoterGA has contested 37,000 voter registrations in the county of about 562,000 active voters.

Similar challenges are taking place in counties across Georgia, which has tight races for governor and U.S. senator on the ballot, and the queries have overwhelmed Gwinnett’s elections board.

Voting rights advocates contend the campaign disproportionately targets areas with a higher African-American population.

The effort follows Trump’s false claims that widespread fraud allowed now-President Joe Biden to win the state and the country as a whole in 2020. Trump’s claims have been rejected by multiple courts, state reviews and members of his former administration. read more

This year’s voter role challenges are being filed under Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021, or SB 202, which made it easier for citizens to question the eligibility of registered voters.

The group is backed by the American Project, which was founded by former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Overstock.com Inc Chief Executive Patrick Byrne.

Voting rights advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union and All Voting is Local say that VoterGA is abusing the law, which they say was intended to enable citizens with personal knowledge of an irregularity to report it, such as when a neighbor moves away and is still registered to vote locally.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Heather Timmons and Edmund Klamann
[Boldface added]

 

For Helping Voters Who Can’t Read, She’s Been Criminally Charged — Twice. That Hasn’t Stopped Her.

Olivia Coley-Pearson offered help to voters who struggle to read. For taking on one of America’s oldest forms of voter suppression, she got threats, a trip to jail and a reminder of the nation’s long legacy of weaponizing literacy.

Before 1965, many Southern states forced voters to prove they could read before casting a ballot, a requirement primarily designed to keep Black people from voting. The Voting Rights Act put an end to those polling site exams. But a ProPublica investigation found that the efforts to block people who have difficulty reading from casting a ballot continue, especially in the South. In fact, today’s election system remains a modern-day literacy test.

It didn’t get that way by accident. For decades, conservative politicians have passedlaws to make it harder for these voters to cast a ballot and discourage anyone trying to help them.

Olivia Coley-Pearson knows this better than most. She has been criminally charged twice in the past decade for her attempts to help people navigate their ballots; she has never been found guilty of any wrongdoing. Now 60, she serves as a city commissioner in Douglas, the majority-Black seat of Coffee County, where a third of the population struggles to read. On the day of Georgia’s primary elections in May, she woke up early to rally voters and volunteer. ProPublica followed her to capture what it takes to ensure that voters who need help can get it.

To learn more, check out ProPublica’s investigation of Coley-Pearson’s fight and the persistent suppression of low-literacy voters, read our story about successful voting reforms, and see our guide on how to get help with voting.

 

New Voting Restrictions Could Make It Harder for 1 in 5 Americans to Vote

Across the country, from California to Georgia, people like Olivia Coley-Pearson and Faye Combs are working through stigma and increased restrictions as they help people who struggle to read exercise their right to vote.

For all the recent focus on voting rights, little attention has been paid to one of the most sustained and brazen suppression campaigns in America: the effort to block help at the voting booth for people who struggle to read — a group that now amounts to about 48 million Americans, or more than a fifth of the adult population.

While new voting restrictions in states like Florida, Texas and Georgia do not all target voters who struggle to read, they make it especially challenging for these voters to get help casting ballots. 

ProPublica analyzed the voter turnout in 3,000 counties and found that places with lower estimated literacy rates tended to also have lower turnout.

The Fight Against an Age-Old Effort to Block Americans From Voting

 

Trump Allies Back Mass Challenge to Voter Eligibility in Georgia

  • Flynn, Overstock.com founder fund group targeting key county
  • County boards overwhelmed with just weeks until Election Day

 

Brian Kemp’s Running Mate Is a Fake Elector

Georgia’s governor makes nice with MAGA by embracing the election deniers who think he cheated Trump.

Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp gets a lot of credit for resisting pressure from former President Donald Trump to “find the votes” to flip the 2020 election results in his state. But that was then. Today, Kemp stands shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the state’s top election deniers. That man is his running mate, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Burt Jones.

Jones signed on as a false elector in the scheme to squeeze former Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes on January 6th. Because of this, he is now a target of the Fulton County district attorney’s criminal investigation into Trump’s broader efforts to interfere in the 2020 election.

Should he win, Jones will claim a major prize—he would serve as “president of the Senate” in Georgia—a plum position for someone seeking to do election-flipping, should the opportunity present itself in 2024. As president of the state Senate, Jones could guide the Georgia legislature in appointing its own electors, irrespective of the vote count, as many Trump-aligned activists hope that Republican state legislatures will do in the future.

A Jones victory would represent an evolution in Georgia’s Republican leadership. The current lieutenant governor, Republican Geoff Duncan, spoke out aggressively against Trump’s election lies in 2020 and stripped Jones of his committee chairmanship due to Jones’s outlandish efforts to overturn the election results. But Duncan decided not to seek a second term.

Kemp has steadfastly looked past Trump’s desire to oust him from office and been quick to remind voters that he has “never said a bad word about Trump.” He has ignored Trump’s tirades against him, turned the other cheek, and told voters he was the better candidate to deliver on Trump policies than his Trump-endorsed primary opponent, David Perdue.

It worked.

One of Kemp’s gambits was pushing for a bill to restrict voting access in order to appease aggrieved Trump voters.

Here’s how Kemp sold it: During a gubernatorial primary debate, Perdue accused Kemp of permitting unlawful voting practices and being “complicit in this fraud.” Kemp said those statements weren’t factual but also that he was “frustrated” with the election results. He then recounted how he passed legislation to address many of the election conspiracists’ false claims. Kemp said:

I was as frustrated as anyone else with the 2020 election results, and I actually did something about it, working with the Georgia General Assembly to address those issues in Senate Bill 202, the Elections Integrity Act. We’ve outlawed Zuckerberg money, we’ve tied photo ID to absentee ballots by mail, we’ve secured drop boxes to make sure we don’t have those problems in the future.

So which is it? Were Georgia’s election in 2020 free and fair? Or was something problematic about them, which required Kemp to change the law?

No matter that Kemp’s own election officials, such as Gabriel Sterling, disputed many of the theories Perdue put forward and begged Trump and other Republican leaders to stop promoting false claims, warning that “someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed” over them.

Think about that: Sterling warned that the president was creating an atmosphere in which someone might get killed.

And Kemp said he would welcome an endorsement from the former president.

Kemp’s craftiness satisfied enough MAGA concerns for him to crush Perdue in the primary. In the general election, he’s navigating another Trump obstacle course.

Because Kemp was the recipient of Trump’s “find the votes” phone request, the governor has been subpoenaed by the Fulton County district attorney’s office to testify. Kemp was initially cooperative with the investigation, but as the midterms approached he grew increasingly combative. He sought to quash his subpoena. Last week, a judge ruled that Kemp would have to testify but could delay his testimony until after the election.

However, Georgia’s investigators aren’t only interested in Kemp’s phone call. The Fulton County district attorney’s office is also probing “multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere.”

Which is where it gets knotty for Kemp. His running mate is likely to factor into at least a few of these probes. Here are some of the facts known about Jones:

  • Jones was one of four Republican state senators who drafted a petition that asked Kemp to convene a special session due to “systematic” election failures and allow the GOP-controlled state legislature to “take back the power to appoint electors.” That petition is no longer available online, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported it “cited the same dubious legal arguments” previously espoused by Trump’s personal and campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Jones lobbied his colleagues to sign the petition by telling them “the truth will set you free.” Kemp and Duncan stated that a special session was “not an option under state or federal law” and rejected the request.
  • Jones signed an amicus brief supporting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed Supreme Court lawsuit to challenge the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  • Jones was one of 16 Georgia Republicans who secretly met in the state Capitol on December 14 to cast Electoral College votes for Trump. Attendees were instructed to tell security guards they were at the Capitol to meet with either Jones or State Sen. Brandon Beach. The Washington Post reported that the Trump campaign told the Georgia Republicans: “Your duties are imperative to ensure the end result—a win in Georgia for President Trump—but will be hampered unless we have complete secrecy and discretion.”
  • Jones then turned his efforts toward pressuring Mike Pence directly. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones was one of 16 Georgia legislators who signed a January 2, 2021 letter to Pence urging him to delay counting Electoral College votes. Lawmakers undertook similar efforts in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Oddly, Jones said he attempted and failed to hand-deliver the letter to Pence at a dinner held at the Naval Observatory (the vice-presidential residence in Washington) on January 5th. A photo of them was taken and posted of Jones and Pence together that evening, but Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he left the letter in his Uber and didn’t deliver it to Pence because “I could tell that it wasn’t going to happen.”
  • Jones has held his election-denying position throughout his campaign. The Associated Press reported that Jones campaigned with Marjorie Taylor Greene over the summer for an “Election Integrity” town hall where organizers handed out “Trump won” signs to attendees.

Though Kemp may have been at odds with Jones about his election denialism in the past, by all appearances, it isn’t a deal breaker for the governor. They’re campaign buddies now.

And Jones isn’t the only election denier Kemp is making nice with in the name of uniting to win in November. Several other false electors continue to serve in prominent positions in Georgia’s Republican party, such as Georgia GOP chairman David Shafer, Georgia Republican party finance chairman and board member Shawn Still (who is currently running for state Senate), and Georgia Republican party assistant treasurer Vikki Townsend Consiglio, whom Kemp re-appointed to the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission last month.

All of the 16 Republicans who signed on as fake electors are targets of Georgia’s criminal investigation.

Governor Kemp, apparently, has no problem with that.

The district attorney in Atlanta is seeking to build a broad conspiracy case that encompasses multifaceted efforts by Trump allies to disrupt and overturn the 2020 election.

[Excerpt:]

Mr. Kemp, who is locked in a tight race for re-election with Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, has tried to maintain a difficult balancing act since falling out of Mr. Trump’s good graces. The former president soured on Mr. Kemp in 2020 after the governor declined Mr. Trump’s request to call a special session of the Georgia Legislature so that a group of pro-Trump electors could be named in place of the legitimate ones earned by Joseph R. Biden Jr., who defeated Mr. Trump by just under 12,000 votes in the state.

 

“Defendants targeted in DeSantis’ voter fraud crackdown were told they could vote”

Politico:

Several people who were arrested last week as part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ voter fraud crackdown were notified by official government entities they were eligible to vote, according to court documents and interviews.

The defendants told authorities they had no intention of committing voter fraud, according to affidavits, and in some cases were baffled by their arrests because counties had sent them voter registration cards and approved them to vote.

The defendants were vilified by the governor during a high profile press conference last week, where DeSantis announced the arrest of 20 people — convicted murderers and sex offenders — who allegedly cast votes in the 2020 election when they weren’t eligible to. The defendants, because of their convictions, weren’t permitted to vote.

DeSantis highlighted their arrests to show his new $1.1 million election security office, created during the 2022 legislative session, was paying off and rooting out bad actors looking to commit voter fraud. Such fraud has become a top tier issue for Republicans across the country, including DeSantis, who has championed a series of election reform bills, including the creation of a first-of-its kind election investigations unit housed under Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody.

In the days since the announcement, however, several of those arrested have told media outlets or authorities that they had no idea they were not eligible to vote. In court documents filed in five counties, most say at least one official government body — in most cases a local election supervisor — incorrectly indicated to them they could vote, including allowing them to register and sending them voter cards in the mail.

Court records show that many who were swept up by authorities have little education or financial resources and are now back in the state’s criminal justice system. Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agents interviewed the defendants over a few days in early August before arresting them last Thursday.

Georgia Governor Seeks to Keep Distance From Trump Inquiry

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican locked in a tight race for re-election against Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, is fighting a subpoena.

 

Breaking: Supreme Court Reverses Eleventh Circuit in Georgia Voting Rights Suit Finding Georgia Secretary of State Conceded Purcell Principle Could Not Apply; Remands for Further Proceedings (No Noted Dissents) [Updated 11th Circuit Order on Remand]

Georgia’s failure to use districts for electing certain statewide officials was found to violate the Voting Rights Act, and the district court required the use of districts in an upcoming election. The Eleventh Circuit put that ruling on hold, apply the Purcell Principle to say that the ruling came too close to the next election to be implemented. Today, the Supreme Court, without noted dissent, said the Eleventh Circuit erred.

 

New State Laws Hit Voters of Color Hardest

August 17, 2022

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/new-state-laws-hit-voters-color-hardest

Georgia presents a slightly more complex picture. There, state lawmakers passed multiple restrictive voting bills. In the recent primary, however, turnout increased. Some pundits declared this proof that the restrictive voting bills didn’t matter because people were still voting.

Since the January 6 insurrection, dozens of states have enacted restrictive voting laws. Race played a big role in where these measures were introduced and passed, and their effects will fall especially hard on voters of color.
Two laws — one in Arizona and one in Georgia — demonstrate how the legislation will disproportionately impact communities of color, making it more difficult for them to vote.
Not so fast.
While overall turnout did increase, so too did the white-Black turnout gap. This year, white turnout was 6 percentage points higher than Black turnout, far higher than in any primary in recent years.
This doesn’t prove that Georgia’s new restrictive bills caused the turnout gap to widen, but it does show that things are moving in the wrong direction in the Peach State.
We’re less than 90 days away from the first major general election in which these new bills will be in effect around the country, and activists and researchers will need to study their impacts. But the early returns suggest that the restrictive voting bills adopted in so many states will disproportionately impact voters of color, and those impacts may have powerful effects on our elections.
The situation is another reminder of how the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which would likely have prevented many of these laws from taking effect, has hurt the most vulnerable voters. Only Congress can fix this mess, and the time until the midterms is ticking away.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/10/us/texas-election-laws-houston-harris-county.html

[Excerpt:]

HOUSTON — Across Harris County, an emerging Democratic stronghold in reliably red Texas, roadside signs posted last November urged harried drivers to vote Republican. A celebrity furniture salesman, beloved by many Houstonians, cut ads with the Republican candidate for the top county administrator’s post.

The 2022 races for local judges and county leaders were among the hardest fought and most expensive yet seen in the sprawling county of 4.8 million, which includes Houston, as Republicans looked to capitalize on crime concerns to make headway in the state’s largest urban area.

But they fell short.

Now, the county is in the cross hairs of the Republican-dominated state Legislature, which is trying to exert more control over voting there. Lawmakers are pushing dozens of new election bills, including limits on polling places, felony penalties for illegal voting and a mechanism for the state to order new elections when voting problems occur in Texas counties with more than 2.7 million people, a category that includes only Harris County.

At the same time, more than a dozen election challenges have been filed by losing Republican candidates in the county who have argued that significant problems at a limited number of polling places on Election Day, including insufficient supplies of ballot paper, were enough to change the outcomes of races. While local leaders acknowledge issues, evidence has not been presented that they affected the results.

 

A New Manifesto for Texas Conservatives

As a lifelong Republican—and, more recently, dedicated Never Trumper—it’s clear to me that the state GOP desperately needs to enter the twenty-first century.

“Texas bill would make illegal voting a felony again, even if someone doesn’t know they’re ineligible to vote”

Votebeat reports.

 

Three Texas counties sue Ken Paxton to settle dilemma over public access to ballots

Election officials say attorney general’s legal opinion puts them in a bind: risk breaking the law or risk provoking lawsuits.

Jan. 24, 2023

https://texas.votebeat.org/2023/1/24/23568489/ken-paxton-ballot-public-records-lawsuits

Votebeat is a nonprofit news organization reporting on voting access and election administration across the U.S. Dig deeper into how our democracy works with Votebeat’s free newsletters.

At least three Texas counties — Tarrant, Williamson, and Harris — have sued Attorney General Ken Paxton and are asking a judge to strike down a legal opinion he released last year that says anyone can access voted ballots right after an election. The lawsuits allege Paxton’s opinion violates state and federal law, contradicts his own previous direction on the issue, and exposes local election administrators to potential criminal charges.

For decades, the attorney general’s office advised counties that voted ballots were to be kept secure for 22 months after an election, a timeframe mandated by federal law and Texas state election code. But only months before the November 2022 general election, even though neither law had changed, Paxton released an opinion saying the documents could be released to anyone who requested them, almost right after the ballots were counted. 

Now, counties and election officials across the state are stuck. They can follow Paxton’s new opinion — which is only a written interpretation of the law — and potentially open themselves up to criminal penalties for violating state law, or they can defy the state attorney general and open up themselves to costly lawsuits. 

That’s why now the counties are asking a judge to step in and settle the question. 

Paxton’s office did not respond to emails requesting comment. Paxton so far has filed a response only to Tarrant County’s lawsuit, which was filed in October and was the first of the three challenges. Paxton’s office denied the county’s claims.

Experts say the move by three different counties to challenge the Texas attorney general’s legal opinion speaks to the complicated position it has put local election officials in. His opinion, they say, has caused chaos, and has no basis in state law. 

“These counties don’t have a choice. They have to worry about whether Ken Paxton is going to take action against them,” said Chad Dunn, an Austin-based attorney and an expert on Texas election law. Dunn said Paxton’s opinion “is laughable. The election code is clear. I’ll be just shocked if the state court system ends up agreeing with Ken Paxton and the ballots are public.” 

Election administrators across the state have for months been fielding an onslaught of records requests, many citing Paxton’s legal opinion, from people seeking to inspect anonymous voted paper ballots. They’re also requesting cast vote records — an anonymous electronic record of the votes on each ballot — from the 2021 and 2022 elections. 

A ruling by a judge, according to election officials from the counties that filed the lawsuits, would help solve the problem by giving counties clear guidance. All three counties filed in Travis County district courts.

“We feel like we’re in a situation that is ‘bad if you do, bad if you don’t, and pick your poison,’ ” said Heider Garcia, Tarrant County’s election administrator, adding that county election administrators were discussing it during a conference earlier this month. 

For his part, Chris Davis, Williamson County’s election administrator, said the legal opinion “blew our minds. I definitely sensed varying levels of confusion about this from several counties.” 

In a written statement, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said the county sued the attorney general’s office because “he got the law wrong.”

The Texas attorney general’s office, including Paxton’s own administration, has affirmed this interpretation of the law since the 1980s. The practice of keeping the ballots preserved and confidential for 22 months, experts say, prevents the documents from being tampered with or compromised and protects the documents’ reliability in case there’s a request for recount or other election challenges. 

Paxton released his opinion in August after a request from state Sen. Kelly Hancock and state Rep. Matt Krause, both Republicans, who said members of the public and legislators desired “to audit the outcome of Texas elections.” In a footnote, Paxton acknowledged that the attorney general’s office had issued a previous opinion in 1988, before he took office, saying unauthorized access to the ballots during the preservation period is prohibited. But the new opinion offers no clear explanation of his decision to change a decades-old precedent. 

Paxton’s office “does not have the authority to make or change the law; that is a responsibility that solely rests with the Texas Legislature,” Tarrant County’s lawsuit says. 

Paxton’s new opinion does not address the potential criminal exposure of election officials, who could be charged with a misdemeanor amounting to $4,000 in fines or up to a year in jail, or offer a clear timeframe of how quickly election clerks must provide the records to requesters.

Such requests, even for ballots older than 22 months, can consume time and resources. In August, a man from San Antonio asked to inspect ballots from the Williamson County’s November 2020 election. In September, after 22 months had elapsed, election officials in Williamson County pulled out hundreds of boxes containing the 300,000 ballots the man had requested. But he never showed up to inspect them. 

After Paxton released his opinion in August, these requests accelerated, election officials said. When Tarrant, Harris, and Williamson counties sought help from Paxton’s office, his response to the counties was to release the records, the lawsuits state. 

Many of the requests received by the three counties suing Paxton, as well as other counties across the state, stemmed from local and national voter fraud activists who have promoted conspiracy theories about elections and are seeking to conduct their own reviews of ballots. 

Paxton has been among former Tru“The Election Code provides a few limited circumstances where the custodian has express authority to access ballots prior to the 22-month expiration. Responding to [public information] requests is not one of those circumstances,” the Williamson County lawsuit says. 

The three lawsuits are technically challenging Paxton’s Public Information Act decisions — which experts say is not an uncommon practice — and not his legal opinion directly. In order for counties to be able to challenge an attorney general’s opinion in court, the counties must have “standing and show a reason why it affects” them said Bob Heath, an Austin-based election and voting rights lawyer and a former chair of the opinions committee of the Texas attorney general’s office.The counties are doing so through the Public Information Act challenges that are based on Paxton’s decision, which Heath says is “wrong.” “That’s a way to get to this opinion, and the opinion obviously poses a real problem for counties or for election administrators and county clerks,” Heath said. 

Soon after the 2020 election, when former President Donald Trump began to spread baseless conspiracy theories about the outcome of the election and whether it had been affected by fraud, counties across the state and the country were flooded with public records requests to examine voted ballots and voting data

Based on the lawsuits, requestors have been seeking cast vote records from each county for the 2021 and 2022 elections. In Tarrant County, the lawsuit says requesters are seeking “all early voting, absentee, provisional, and day-of-election paper ballots” from 2021 and in Williamson County, one requester is seeking “all ballot images and cast vote record files for all the elections that took place in 2020, 2021, and 2022,” the lawsuit says. 

Paxton has been among former Trump’s most vocal supporters. He is facing a professional misconduct lawsuit by the Texas state

Voting rights advocates say Paxton’s opinion is part of a larger attempt to continue to undermine the faith in the elections process both in Texas and across the country. 

Republicans have already filed dozens of bills to restrict voting in 2023

Kira Lerner

January 17, 2023

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/17/voting-rights-republicans-texas-restrictions

Measures in Texas would raise criminal penalties and create voting-focused law enforcement unit

Republican lawmakers across the country have already filed dozens of bills that would restrict voting, including proposals in Texas that would increase criminal penalties on people who violate voting laws and enact a new law enforcement unit to prosecute election crimes.

The 2023 legislative session comes in the wake of an election that was described by many voting rights advocates as a triumph of democracy, despite the restrictive voting laws that were in place in 20 states for the first time last year.

Before this session, at least 26 states enacted, expanded or increased the severity of 120 election-related criminal penalties.

This year, Republican-controlled legislatures plan to continue pressing for laws that they say would help prevent widespread voter fraud, a problem that voting advocates say does not exist but nonetheless continues to be alleged by Donald Trump and his allies. Several pre-filed bills would further criminalize voters and election officials, a trend that has been occurring across the US in the past few years.

“We started seeing states introducing and moving and passing legislation that creates new criminal penalties or expands existing penalties for election-related crimes, in particular against election officials,” said Liz Avore, senior adviser with the Voting Rights Lab, which tracks new legislation. “A lot of these bills would criminalize good-faith errors by election officials. In other cases, they criminalize conduct that was previously legal or otherwise encouraged

In Texas, where the legislature meets every other year and convened on 10 January, lawmakers pre-filed 14 bills that would restrict voter access or election administration, according to the Voting Rights Lab. The Texas Republican party has made election security one of its legislative priorities this session.

At least five pre-filed bills in Texas would raise the penalty for illegal voting from a class A misdemeanor to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. The bills come after SB1, Texas’s omnibus voting law passed in 2021, decreased the penalty for illegal voting to a misdemeanor from a felony, partly in response to the arrest and conviction of Crystal Mason for illegally voting. Mason was sentenced to five years in prison despite the fact that she said she did not know that voting while she was on supervised release meant that she was violating the law.

The Texas representative Bryan Slaton, one of the Republican lawmakers to introduce a bill to raise the penalty to a felony, said he had not known that the amendment to reduce the penalty had been slipped into SB1, and he wanted to reverse the change. He said the penalty should be strict given the importance of the voting process.

“If someone is attempting to cheat or does cheat, I think that that needs to be prioritized and investigated and if it’s a misdemeanor, it has a hard time getting attention from law enforcement,” he said.

Avore said that increasing criminal penalties was “a proposal that I expect to move very quickly in 2023”.

Under pre-filed bills in both chambers, Texas would also launch an election police force similar to the one created by Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, which has so far come up short of producing convictions or any evidence of widespread voting offenses. Texas’s law enforcement unit, led by state “election marshals”, would be dedicated to prosecuting election and voting crimes.

Under the proposed legislation, the top election marshal would report to the secretary of state and would appoint election marshals to represent different regions. Election marshals who investigate a violation of Texas voting law could issue warrants and file criminal charges. They could also “impound election records and equipment”.

Other bills in Texas would expand the attorney general’s authority to prosecute election crimes. One bill would allow the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor for criminal voting cases, and another would allow the attorney general to issue civil penalties to local prosecutors who do not investigate voting crimes. The office of the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, has in the past tried to prosecute voting crimes, but his voter fraud unit closed just 16 minor cases in 2020, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The highest criminal court in Texas put a damper on Paxton’s efforts in 2021 when it ruled that it was unconstitutional for the attorney general to unilaterally prosecute election cases, but “we’re seeing legislation now that’s testing the boundaries of that ruling,” Avore said.

Other pre-filed bills in Texas would impose an address confirmation process that could lead to voters’ registrations being canceled if they have not voted in more than two years before a general election. Another would prohibit counties from operating polling places in elementary or secondary schools, a proposal that responds to concerns about school safety but could introduce confusion as polling places are moved and fewer buildings are available for elections.

Though the majority of already-filed bills are in Texas, Republicans in a few other states are also indicating their priorities when it comes to restricting voting this session. In Virginia, a pre-filed bill would require all in-person voters to show photo ID. The state currently allows voters to show some forms of non-photo ID and to sign an affidavit in lieu of showing ID.

In South Carolina, a Republican lawmaker pre-filed a bill that would require voting systems that allow voters to hand-mark paper ballots and would require all paper ballots to be hand counted, prohibiting tabulators.

While Democratic-sponsored bills to protect voting are unlikely to pass in Texas, where the legislature is controlled by Republicans, there is at least one proposal in the state that has bipartisan support. In the past, both Democrats and Republicans have voted for legislation to allow voters to register online.

And across the country, far more bills have also been introduced to expand voting rights. As of Wednesday, Voting Rights Lab is tracking 162 bills that would improve voter access or election administration.

In Missouri, for example, a proposed bill with bipartisan support would restore voting rights to people with felony convictions upon their release from prison, allowing them to cast ballots while on parole or probation. Another Missouri bill would require that voters be notified of errors on their mail ballot envelopes and given an opportunity to correct those errors so their ballots can be counted.

Bills introduced in New York, Texas and New Jersey would all allow same-day voter registration, which is currently permitted in 22 states and Washington DC.

 

Texas governor calls for investigation into Houston-area elections

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/3734911-texas-governor-calls-for-investigation-into-houston-area-elections/
[Excerpts:]

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday called for an investigation into “widespread problems” in Houston-area elections during the midterms. 

“The allegations of election improprieties in our state’s largest county may result from anything ranging from malfeasance to blatant criminal conduct. Voters in Harris County deserve to know what happened. Integrity in the election process is essential. To achieve that standard, a thorough investigation is warranted,” Abbott said in a statement.

The Republican governor, who defeated Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke last week, called on the Texas secretary of state, the state attorney general and the Texas Rangers “to initiate investigations into allegations of improprieties in the ay that the 2022 elections were conducted in Harris County.”

A number of polling locations in Harris County allegedly failed to open on time on Election Day, which spurred the Texas Civil Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas to file an emergency lawsuit — and the county’s 782 polling places were ordered to stay open an hour past their typical closing time. 

Cliff Tatum, the Harris County elections administrator, said in a statement Monday that the office is “fully committed to transparency” around the election.

They Were Trying to Help Run Elections. Then They Got Criminally Investigated.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hasn’t just been pursuing supposed voter fraud. His office has also criminally investigated at least 10 election workers, in a harbinger of potential post-midterm turmoil.

 

They Were Trying to Help Run Elections. Then They Got Criminally Investigated.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hasn’t just been pursuing supposed voter fraud. His office has also criminally investigated at least 10 election workers, in a harbinger of potential post-midterm turmoil.

[Excerpt:]

In the wake of the 2020 presidential election, Republican officials around the country have been giving increasing attention and resources to investigating election crimes. Most have focused on the alleged wrongdoing of voters.

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also working a different angle: His office has been criminally investigating the people who help run elections.

Over the past two years, Paxton’s office opened at least 10 investigations into alleged crimes by election workers, a more extensive effort than previously known, according to records obtained by ProPublica. One of his probes was spurred by a complaint from a county GOP chair, who lost her reelection bid in a landslide. She then refused to certify the results, citing “an active investigation” by the attorney general.

In at least two of the cases, Paxton’s office unsuccessfully tried to indict election workers, attempts that were first reported by the Austin American-Statesman. In the remaining eight investigations identified by ProPublica, it is unclear just how far the probes went. As of mid-October, none of the cases resulted in criminal charges.

 

New Voting Restrictions Could Make It Harder for 1 in 5 Americans to Vote

Across the country, from California to Georgia, people like Olivia Coley-Pearson and Faye Combs are working through stigma and increased restrictions as they help people who struggle to read exercise their right to vote.

For all the recent focus on voting rights, little attention has been paid to one of the most sustained and brazen suppression campaigns in America: the effort to block help at the voting booth for people who struggle to read — a group that now amounts to about 48 million Americans, or more than a fifth of the adult population.

While new voting restrictions in states like Florida, Texas and Georgia do not all target voters who struggle to read, they make it especially challenging for these voters to get help casting ballots. 

ProPublica analyzed the voter turnout in 3,000 counties and found that places with lower estimated literacy rates tended to also have lower turnout.

 

Ken Paxton bucks legal precedent and secretary of state’s advice in letting anyone examine ballots right after elections

Attorney general’s opinion invites lawsuits over long-established ballot security and subjects election officials for possible criminal charges.

 

Beto O’Rourke’s book spotlights Texans’ struggles for voting rights

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/08/19/beto-orourkes-book-spotlights-texans-struggles-voting-rights/

[Excerpt:]

O’Rourke has listed both “The Odyssey” and Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” as his favorite books. (He named his first son Ulysses.) This Ur-story of a long and winding journey infuses the book. Of course, in his picaresque travelogue of Texan political activism, O’Rourke is also telling his own story — as a careful listener and tireless avatar of all those who have fought against injustice, past and present.

But of all the injustices, the contemporary assault on the right to vote stands front and center. Like many Republican-controlled state legislatures, Texas passed laws in 2021 that curtailed access to voting methods favored by Democratic-aligned constituencies (especially voters of color) under the guise of “election integrity.” Since 2013 (following the Shelby County v. Holder decision, which substantially weakened the Voting Rights Act), Texas has closed 750 polling stations.

Since the book opens with an 1886 lynching of Black poll workers who had killed a White attacker in self-defense, the lesson is obvious: Old times are most definitely not forgotten. O’Rourke does not hold back in connecting the links on the chain. In his telling, the same virulent strains of White racist violence are alive and well in the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol and in the Texas Legislature’s SB 1, the voting restriction bill that passed last August.“The goal of this bill wasn’t to ensure election integrity,” O’Rourke writes. “The goal was to finish what had been started on January 6.”

 

“Texas state bar files professional misconduct lawsuit against Ken Paxton for attempt to overturn 2020 presidential elections”

Texas Tribune:

A disciplinary committee for the State Bar of Texas on Wednesday filed a professional misconduct lawsuit against Attorney General Ken Paxton for his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential elections in four battleground states won by President Joe Biden.

The filing in Collin County by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, a standing committee of the state bar, is an extraordinary move by the body that regulates law licenses in the state against the sitting attorney general. It stems from complaints against Paxton for a lawsuit that the U.S. Supreme Court threw out, saying Texas lacked standing to sue and that Paxton’s political opponents called “frivolous.”

It seeks a sanction against Paxton, which will be determined by a judge, that could range from a private reprimand to disbarment.

In its filing, the commission said Paxton had misrepresented that he had uncovered substantial evidence that “raises serious doubts as to the integrity of the election process in the defendant states.”

“As a result of Respondent’s actions, Defendant States were required to expend time, money, and resources to respond to the misrepresentations and false statements contained in these pleadings and injunction requests even though they had previously certified their presidential electors based on the election results prior to the filing of Respondent’s pleadings,” the lawsuit read.

The lawsuit also says Paxton made “dishonest” representations that an “outcome determinative” number of votes were tied to unregistered voters, votes were switched by a glitch with voting machines, state actors had unconstitutionally revised their election statutes and “illegal votes” had been cast to affect the outcome of the election.

The lawsuit says Paxton’s allegations “were not supported by any charge, indictment, judicial finding, and/or credible or admissible evidence, and failed to disclose to the Court that some of his representations and allegations had already been adjudicated and/or dismissed in a court of law.”

 

“Almost 25,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in Texas for its March 1 primary election”

NPR:

A total of 24,636 mail-in ballots were rejected throughout Texas in the March 1 primary election, the Texas secretary of state’s office said Wednesday.

That’s a 12.38% rejection rate — far higher than in previous contests.

Local election officials, as well as voting rights advocates, have said many voters were tripped up by a GOP-backed law that went into effect late last year.

James Slattery, a senior state attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, says these final figures show Texas’ new voting law, known as Senate Bill 1, was “catastrophic for democracy” in the state.

“The rejection rate went up by a factor of 12 since the last election,” he said. “The only reason that the rejection rate soared this high is that Senate Bill 1 imposed this new ID requirement and it is disenfranchising eligible voters.”

Under SB 1, voters have to provide a partial Social Security number or driver’s license number on their mail ballot application — as well as on the return envelope. The ID number they provide has to match what’s on their voter registration record.

Many voters either completely missed the new ID portion of the return envelope or had mismatched IDs, local officials said.

Some county election officials reported that up to 40% of ballots that were returned were initially flagged for rejection. Eventually some voters were able to fix their ballots, but many voters were not.

 

“Thousands of Texas mail-in votes still in jeopardy under new GOP voting restrictions”

https://electionlawblog.org/?p=127928

RICK HASEN

March 3, 2022 

Election day has come and gone, but it remains unclear how many Texans were unable to vote after trying to cast ballots by mail under new Republican laws restricting that voting option.

In the first test of new voting rules passed last year, the votes of several thousand Texans remain in jeopardy because they failed to comply with stricter ID requirements for voting by mail. Some frustrated voters had to overcome multiple hurdles to correct mistakes in time for their votes to be counted. Others gave up on voting absentee altogether.

The scale of disenfranchisement will not be known for at least another week, as voters still have time to cure ballots that were found defective because they did not include newly required ID numbers. But in various counties, the percentage of ballots being rejected has ballooned well beyond previous rejection rates. Because of Texas’ strict eligibility criteria for voting by mail, older voters and voters with disabilities will be the most affected.

Heading into primary election day Tuesday, counties reported initial rejection rates anywhere between 8% to 30%, with the ID requirements tripping up a significant share of voters in counties large and midsize, red and blue.

By contrast, less than 2% of mail-in ballots were rejected in the 2018 primary election, according to data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The count of ballots marked for rejection because of the ID rules in Harris County alone — 11,135 as of Feb. 28 — easily surpassed the total number of ballots rejected statewide — roughly 9,400 — in 2018. The number of faulty ballots in Harris may still grow as late-arriving mail-in ballots are processed this week.

For weeks, elections officials across the state have been delivering the news of rejected applications to vote by mail, and then rejected ballots, to voters who flunked new state rules that require them to provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Those numbers must then match the information on a voter’s records.

 

Ballot Rejections in Texas Spike After New Voting Law

Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, about 30 percent of absentee ballots were rejected in the state’s most populous counties. In 2020, the statewide rejection rate was less than 1 percent.

Nick Corasaniti

Published Feb. 25, 2022; Updated March 1, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/25/us/politics/texas-primary-ballot-rejections.html?

Local election officials in Texas have rejected thousands of absentee ballots based on requirements set by the state’s new election law, an alarming jump that risks potentially preventing some Texans from voting in Tuesday’s primary election.

The state’s Republican and Democratic primaries will be the first elections held since the Republican-led Texas Legislature overhauled the state’s election laws. Election officials in the most populous counties have rejected roughly 30 percent of the absentee ballots they have received — more than 15,000 ballots — as of Wednesday, according to a review of election data by The New York Times.

The ballots were rejected largely because voters either did not include their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number, or the numbers they put down did not match what officials had on file. The new identification requirements were put in place by the voting law passed last year, known as Senate Bill 1. The rate of rejection represents a significant increase from past elections, including in 2020, when the statewide rejection rate was less than 1 percent for the general election, according to data from the federal Election Assistance Commission.

In 2020, officials rejected 8,304 ballots in Texas out of nearly a million votes statewide. This year, that statewide number has already been surpassed in two counties alone: Harris County and Dallas County rejected more than 8,600 ballots as of Wednesday. The rise in rejections in Texas is the earliest sign that the spate of new election laws passed across the country last year after the 2020 election are having an effect.

In the battleground states of Florida and Georgia, Republican legislatures passed sweeping new voting laws with identification requirements for the absentee ballot process that are similar to those in the Texas law. Florida and Georgia will hold their primaries later this year.

 

‘So Angry’ At Texas Republicans’ Disenfranchising Voting Law

March 14, 2022 || ISSUE NO. 41

‌‌‌‌‌The Count Is In: Texas Voting Rules Sidelined Thousands

Kate Riga and I have a new story on the astounding ballot rejection rates out of TEXAS, where voters are now required to use an ID number on their mail-in ballot that matches the number they used when they registered to vote in the first place — sometimes decades ago.

And, unsurprisingly, it’s bad news: Nearly 14% of mail-in ballots were ultimately rejected in Collin County, as were 8% in Travis County, 11.5% in Williamson County and 16% in El Paso county.

In Harris County, home to Houston, nearly 19% of mail-in ballots were rejected for violating SB1, compared to 0.3% in the 2018 primaries. That amounted to nearly 7,000 voters disenfranchised this year in Harris County alone, according to a statement from the county. Across the state, more than 18,000 ballots have been rejected, according to a Texas Tribune tally of Texas’ largest counties.

Now, imagine what will happen when we hit the general election later this year, and, worse yet, the 2024 presidential election. The impact of Republicans’ onerous ID law could amount to hundreds of thousands of rejected ballots, one political analyst told us.

“I’m so angry with what the Texas legislature did to us, really,” said one voter — whose ballot was only counted because a county elections worker made a 45-minute drive to her home.

The department said the state’s redistricting plan would violate the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against minority voters.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/06/us/politics/texas-voting-rights-redistricting.html?referringSource=articleShare

DOJ sues Texas over new election overhaulBY JOSEPH CHOI – 11/04/21 https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/580174-doj-sues-texas-over-new-election-overhaulThe Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday announced it was suing Texas over a controversial voting bill that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed into a law in September.The law prohibits election officials from sending unsolicited applications for a mail-in ballots on the risk of imprisonment and rolls back voter accommodations that were put into place due to the pandemic.

Republicans have upheld the legislation as being designed to ensure election integrity, while critics have slammed it as an attempt to suppress Democratic votes.

Read More

“Our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot and to have that ballot counted,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “The Justice Department will continue to use all the authorities at its disposal to protect this fundamental pillar of our society.”

In a statement, NAACP President Derrick Johnson praised the DOJ’s move saying, “Finally, a justice department that fights for justice. Texas is torpedoing American democracy and our constitutional right to vote. We are encouraged to see the DOJ pushing back.”

This is the second lawsuit the Biden administration has filed against a state government over election laws enacted after the 2020 election, in response to false claims by former President Trump that he lost due to fraud. 

In June, the DOJ announced it was suing Georgia over its more restrictive voting laws.

“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Garland said at the time.

The Hill has reached out to Abbott’s office for comment.

 

Civil Rights Organizations and an Election Official File Challenge to Texas Anti-Voter Legislation

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/civil-rights-organizations-and-election-official-file-challenge-texas

Press Release : September 3, 2021

Contact:Rebecca Autrey, Media Contact,rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu, 202-753-5904

A voting bill that will make it harder for Texans, particularly voters of color, to cast their ballots is unconstitutional and violates federal voting rights law because it diminishes access to the ballot box, according to a lawsuit filed today in federal court.MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, and the law firms of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP in​ New York and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in Dallas filed a challenge in U.S. District Court in San Antonio to Senate Bill 1. The lawsuit – filed on behalf of 10 membership and community-based organizations, an election official, an election judge, and voters – claims that S.B. 1’s provisions violate the federal Voting Rights Act, the Supremacy Clause, and the First, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Texas House and Senate passed the bill Tuesday.“S.B. 1 will reduce voter participation and discriminate on the basis of race, and for those reasons it should be struck down in court,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation. “In addition to making voting more difficult for all voters, S.B. 1 is aimed directly at Latinos and Asian Americans with specific provisions that cut back on assistance to limited English-proficient voters.”Among the S.B. 1 provisions that could make it harder for voters to cast a ballot are restrictions that limit the assistance that individuals can provide to voters who require help.S.B. 1 will also make it harder for election workers to maintain safety and security in the polling place. The legislation will curtail election workers’ authority to remove partisan poll watchers who are harassing voters and S.B. 1 may subject election workers to prosecution if they try to limit poll watchers’ behavior.Under S.B. 1, employees of nonprofit organizations who help people vote by mail will risk felony charges and up to two years in jail, which creates a barrier for elderly voters and voters with disabilities. For example, the legislation will make it a crime to pay someone for providing such assistance to voters or for offering, receiving, or soliciting such payment. These provisions will also restrict civic engagement activities by community-based organizations. Further, S.B. 1 will roll back voting initiatives that increased access to the ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as drive-thru voting and expanded early voting hours.“By law, the citizens of Texas all have the same right to vote, regardless of race or disability. But with S.B. 1, the legislature is undermining equal access to the ballot box,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, Acting Director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “The myriad restrictions in their legislation will be felt most by Latino, Black, and Asian American voters, voters with disabilities, and elderly voters. These new impediments to voting have no legitimate purpose in keeping Texas elections fair and secure. The court must strike down this shameful legislation.”In addition, S.B. 1 will limit the ability of election officials to do their job. For example, the complaint argues that Harris County Election Administrator Isabel Longoria’s First Amendment speech would be restricted under the bill’s anti-solicitation provision, which makes it a crime for her to encourage individuals who are eligible or may be eligible to apply to vote by mail.Plaintiffs include the Anti-Defamation League Austin, Southwest, and Texoma Regions; FIEL Houston; Friendship-West Baptist Church; Harris County Election Administrator Isabel Longoria; Jolt Action; James Lewin, an election judge; La Unión Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE); Mexican American Bar Association of Texas; Southwest Voter Registration Education Project; Texas HOPE; Texas Impact; and William C. Velasquez Institute.   Additional counsel for Isabel Longoria provided by the Harris County Attorney’s Office.The complaint and more information about the lawsuit can be found here.###Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization.  Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law is an independent, nonpartisan law and policy organization that works to reform, revitalize, and when necessary, defend our country’s systems of democracy and justice. For more information on the Brennan Center, please visit: www.brennancenter.org.

David Becker on the Troubling Provisions of the New Texas Voting Law

https://electionlawblog.org/?p=124405

RICK HASENThread.David Becker@beckerdavidjSep 11

TX SB 1, passed yesterday, is indeed one of the least-justified laws passed in service to the Big Lie, but as many focus on the unnecessary provisions that restrict early and mail voting, there are several other aspects of the law that raise greater concerns for me.[Boldface added]2 While TX is one of the least secure states for voting, due to it having the largest number of digital, non-paper ballots, and no effective audit requirements, SB 1 does nothing to address those deficiencies.3 In fact, SB 1 has an audit section requires “random” audits in only 4 of TX’s 254 counties each election (which isn’t a random audit). And you cannot conduct an effective audit without paper ballots. Best practices require a random statewide audit of the paper.4 But worse is what is IN SB 1. The bill injects unnecessary chaos into the election process, and criminalizes and restricts professional election administration by those most knowledgeable about the process and their voters – the election officials.5 SB 1 empowers partisan poll watchers to roam anywhere around the polling place, potentially interfering with the voting process and intimidating voters, and severely restricts, and even criminalizes, efforts by election workers to restore order.6 Particularly since SB 1 concentrates more voting on Election Day in polling places, and creating more of a potential for a single point of failure, this injection of chaos into the voting process is potentially disastrous, far beyond what’s permitted in other states.7 SB 1 further criminalizes many efforts by election officials to make it easier for voters, or to provide them with information about their options, like an application for a mail ballot. Penalties for these public servants include large fines and jail time.8 This penalizing professional election administration by public servants is a trend in other states passing laws based on the Big Lie. [Boldface added]@ElectionInnov is working on this, and will have a major announcement about this next week, so stay tuned.9 Oddly, SB 1 also opens the floodgates of litigation, providing for a private right of action on even the most minor of perceived deviations, and allowing for atty’s fees. These petty lawsuits are likely to clog courts when they’re needed for real election disputes.10 Without justification, SB 1 also creates a two-tiered and arbitrary system of req’ts of some of its provisions. Some provisions only apply to counties with 55K+ residents, others to 100K+, and others to 250K+. No idea whether equal protection issues were considered.11 Finally, SB 1 requires the TX SOS to promulgate a slew of new rules and regulations, and enforce a ton of new provisions. The only problem here — TX SOS office is currently vacant, and there’s no indication of if a new appointment will be made. 12 TX SB 1 is a master class in how NOT to pursue election policy. NO consultation with election officials. NO bipartisanship. It fails to address the major security weakness in TX elections (digital ballots), and creates greater risk of chaos and lines on Election Day.13 As TX concentrates more voting on Election Day, and encourages chaos at polling locations, while failing to require paper ballots and effective audits, it is safe to say that TX has reduced the integrity of its election system, and remains among the least secure states. /END

From: Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American <heathercoxrichardson@substack.com>
Date: September 1, 2021

Today, the Texas legislature passed SB1, the sweeping voter suppression bill Democrats had tried to stop by walking out of the legislature to deny the Republicans a quorum. The new measure is a microcosm of voter suppression bills across the nation in Republican-dominated states.

It bans mail ballot drop boxes and gets rid of drive-through voting and extended hours. It criminalizes the distribution of applications for mail-in ballots and permits partisan poll watchers to have “free movement” in polling places, enabling them to intimidate voters. Texas is just 40% white and has 3 million unregistered voters, the vast majority of whom are Black or Latino. The new measure is designed to cut young people of color, whose numbers are growing in Texas and who are overwhelmingly Democrats, out of elections. In debates on the measure, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan asked members not to use the word “racism.”

After A Bitter Fight, The Texas House Passes A Restrictive Voting Bill

Benjamin SwaseyAugust 27, 2021

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/27/1031154177/after-a-bitter-fight-the-texas-house-passes-a-restrictive-voting-bill?utm_campaign=politics&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_term=nprnews

Months of partisan battles in Texas concluded late Thursday as Republican House members passed new voting restrictions, moving the legislation closer to the governor’s desk.The vote in the Texas House on the nearly 50-page bill, SB1, was 79-37 (mostly on party lines) and follows historic efforts by Democrats to block it. In late May, House Democrats staged a dramatic, 11th-hour walkout to stop a vote before the legislative session’s conclusion. GOP Gov. Greg Abbott then called a special session, but dozens of Democrats fled the state, infuriating Republicans and denying them a quorum to conduct business at the state Capitol. The standoff lasted 38 days, until enough Democrats returned to Austin last week, enabling GOP lawmakers to move ahead on their bill.Texas already had some of the country’s strictest voting rulesThe Democrats had taken their fight to Washington, D.C., imploring Congress to advance federal voting protections. Those measures are stalled on Capitol Hill.And now Texas — which already has some of the strictest voting rules in the country — is set to become the latest Republican-led state to pass new restrictions on voting and election administration in the wake of the 2020 elections. 

Map: See Which States Have Restricted Voter Access, And Which States Have Expanded It

The GOP-led state Senate has passed a similar measure. The House bill faces a final vote Friday and then will head to the Senate.The House legislation in Texas would add new ID requirements for people seeking to vote by mail; add new criminal penalties to the voting process; empower partisan poll watchers; and ban drive-through and 24-hour voting options, steps taken last year by Harris County, home to Houston.Harris County officials have said that voters of color made up the majority of people who took advantage of the 24-hour voting option.

Separately, an ACLU of Texas reportfound that more than 70% of prosecutions for alleged voting crimes conducted by the state attorney general’s office have targeted Black and Latino voters.Proven cases of voter or election fraud are exceedingly rareDemocrats and voting rights activists say the Texas provisions are unneeded restrictions that stem from baseless claims of election fraud by former President Donald Trump and his allies and which would particularly harm disabled voters, voters of color and urban voters in a state with fast-changing demographics. 

Republicans said their efforts are in service of “election integrity” to make it harder to cheat — though proven cases of voter or election fraud are exceedingly rare. They say the changes enacted by Harris County last year were unauthorized expansions of voting rules.While the outcome in Texas was essentially a foregone conclusion — Republicans control the statehouse — Democrats can argue that their disruptive tactics influenced the ultimate legislation.

The bill that nearly passed in late May, for instance, would have cut down on Sunday voting — a provision that one Republican state representative said was a mistake, a “scrivener’s error.”Texas will soon becomethe latest GOP-run state to enact new voting restrictions, joining Georgia, Florida, Arizona and others. And while the swing states that have added new voter restrictions this year have gotten more attention, more states — mostly led by Democrats — have passed into law measures that expand voting access. That includes Nevada and Illinois.

Texas Republicans Have A New Voting Bill. Here’s What’s In It

July 9, 2021

ASHLEY LOPEZ

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/09/1014579306/texas-republicans-have-a-new-voting-bill-heres-whats-in-it

[Excerpts:]

Texas Republicans have introduced another set of sweeping bills that voting rights advocates say could make it harder to vote in a state that already has some of the most restrictive election laws in the country.The bills do not include some of the more controversial measures that were added to that previous bill in the final hours of the legislative session in May.

Those included a provision that would have restricted voting on Sundays as well as a measure that would have allowed election officials to overturn election results if there are voter fraud allegations.

The latest bills in Texas include new identification requirements for people voting by mail and prohibit local election officials from sending a vote-by-mail application to someone who hasn’t requested one.They also ban drive-through voting and extended hours during early voting. Republicans in the state argue that these innovations — which were mostly used by Houston officials during the pandemic — opened the door to voter fraud.James Slattery, a senior staff attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said voters of color and shift workers benefited the most from these methods of voting last year.“And so you can consider the bans on those forms of voting to be a direct attack on voters of color in particular,” he said.

 

Nick Corasaniti

Published May 31, 2021; Updated June 14, 2021

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/31/us/politics/texas-voting-bill.html

[Excerpts:]

The Texas Legislature moved closer to passing a bill that would reduce early voting hours, tighten voter identification requirements for absentee ballots and eliminate ballot drop boxes and drive-thru voting centers. The bill was blocked only when Texas Democrats walked off the House floor on Sunday night; Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will order a special session to ultimately ensure its passage.

 

Texas Democrats Stymie G.O.P. Voting Bill, for Now

Republicans hit a significant stumbling block in their push to enact some of the strictest voting laws in the nation. But they could yet pass the measures through a special session of the Legislature.

Nick Corasaniti

Published May 31, 2021Updated June 14, 2021

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/31/us/politics/texas-voting-bill.html

[Excerpts:]

Democrats in the Texas Legislature staged a dramatic, late-night walkout on Sunday night to force the failure of a sweeping Republican overhaul of state election laws.

The move, which deprived the session of the minimum number of lawmakers required for a vote before a midnight deadline, was a stunning setback for state Republicans who had made a new voting law one of their top priorities. 

The effort is not entirely dead, however. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, indicated that he would call a special session of the Legislature, which could start as early as June 1, or Tuesday, to restart the process. The governor has said that he strongly supported an election bill, and in a statement he called the failure to reach one on Sunday “deeply disappointing.” He was widely expected to sign whatever measure Republicans passed. 

While Republicans would still be favored to pass a bill in a special session, the unexpected turn of events on Sunday presents a new hurdle in their push to enact a far-reaching election law that would install some of the most rigid voting restrictions in the country, and cement the state as one of the hardest in which to cast a ballot. 

The final bill, known as S.B. 7, included new restrictions on absentee voting; granted broad new autonomy and authority to partisan poll watchers; escalated punishments for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, which were used for the first time during the 2020 election in Harris County, home to Houston and a growing number of the state’s Democratic voters. 

In a statement early Monday, Mr. Turner said the walkout had been a last resort. Read More

“It became obvious Republicans were going to cut off debate to ram through their vote suppression legislation,” he said. “At that point, we had no choice but to take extraordinary measures to protect our constituents and their right to vote.”

If Mr. Abbott calls a special session, Republican legislators would have to start from scratch, but it is possible that they could simply use the same language and provisions from S.B. 7, or even introduce a bill with more strident restrictions on voting access. A legislative power play by Republicans in the Senate late Saturday led to an all-night session and hours of impassioned debate and objections from Democrats.

Early Sunday, the Senate passed the bill largely along party lines.The effort in Texas, a major state with a booming population, represents the apex of the national Republican push to install tall new barriers to voting after President Donald J. Trump’s loss last year to Joseph R. Biden Jr., with expansive restrictions already becoming law in IowaGeorgia and Florida in 2021. Fueled by Mr. Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the election, Republicans have passed the bills almost entirely along partisan lines, brushing off the protestations of Democrats, civil rights groups, voting rights groups, major corporations and faith leaders.

After the Texas bill became public on Saturday, Mr. Biden denounced it, along with similar measures in Georgia and Florida, as “an assault on democracy,” blasting the moves in a statement as “disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.” 

He urged Congress to pass Democrats’ voting bills, the most ambitious of which, the For the People Act, would expand access to the ballot, reduce the role of money in politics, strengthen enforcement of existing election laws and limit gerrymandering.

Another measure, the narrower John Lewis Voting Rights Act, would restore crucial parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, including the requirement that some states receive federal approval before changing their election laws.Aside from Texas, multiple states, including Arizona, Ohio and Michigan, have legislatures that are still in session and that may move forward on new voting laws.

Republicans in Michigan have pledged to work around a likely veto from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, by collecting signatures from citizens and seeking to pass new restrictions through a ballot initiative.Republican lawmakers in battleground states have been backed in their effort by a party base and conservative media that have largely embraced the election falsehoods spread by Mr. Trump and his allies.

G.O.P. legislators have argued that the nation must improve its “election security” even though the results of the last election have been confirmed by multiple audits, lawsuits, court decisions, election officials and even Mr. Trump’s own attorney general as free, safe, fair and secure. 

In debate late Sunday night, Democratic legislators seized on a provision added late in the process that would make it easier to overturn the results of an election in the state in some circumstances. Texas law previously required proof that illicit votes had resulted in a wrongful victory. T

he new measure says that the number of fraudulent votes would simply need to be equal to the winning vote differential; it would not matter for whom those votes had been cast.“They can use this to overthrow the voice of the people, to overthrow the voice of Texas,” said State Representative John Bucy III, a Democrat from near Austin.

“Do we want to throw out our ability to let the voices be heard through elections?”As with bills passed in other states, voting rights groups said the new provisions in Texas, if passed, would be likely to disproportionately affect poorer people and those of color.“All the provisions have an impact on minorities one way or another,” Gilberto Hinojosa, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said on Sunday.

“That’s what it’s intended to. They’re not trying to stop Republicans from going out to vote. They’re trying to stop Democrats from going out to vote and the base of the Democratic Party is overwhelmingly African-American and Hispanic.”Republicans in the Legislature had defended the bill, falsely arguing that it contained no restrictions on voting and saying that it was part of a years long effort to strengthen election security in the state.

Even so, they acknowledged that there was no widespread voting fraud last year in Texas, and the Republican secretary of state testified that the state’s election was “smooth and secure.”Voting rights groups have long pointed to Texas as one of the hardest states in the country for voters to cast ballots.

One recent study by Northern Illinois University ranked Texas last in an index measuring the difficulty of voting. The report cited a host of factors, including a drastic reduction of polling stations in some parts of the state and strict voter identification laws.David Montgomery contributed reporting from Austin, Texas. Reporting was also contributed by Austin Ramzy and Anna Schaverien. 

The Texas legislature is considering a slew of dangerous new bills based on lies about nonexistent voter fraud. 

March 15, 2021

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/voter-suppression-lone-star-state-past-and-potential-future

Georgia’s state Senate has been ground zero for election misinformation

https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/02/11/few-consequences-so-far-for-georgia-senators-who-pushed-election-misinformation

Since even before the election was certified for President Biden, sixteen senators — including Jones, Beach and former Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) — signed on to an amicus brief for a Texas Supreme Court lawsuit that sought to nullify the results of four states, including Georgia. Georgia’s Republican Attorney General Chris Carr called the failed suit “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong.

Beach, Jones and Matt Brass (R-Newnan) were each stripped of committee chairmanships for their roles in pushing false election claims (and supporting Jones’ leadership challenge to President Pro Tem Butch Miller) but other lawmakers who have questioned the outcome of the vote have experienced few consequences for their actions. Some have even gained power in the Capitol.

Instead of running on conservative policies that the state’s Republican-controlled government has enacted over nearly two decades in power, some candidates have adopted a campaign strategy of feeding into lies and misinformation about the election process — a process also controlled by Republicans.

Caught in the crossfire are staunchly conservative incumbents who resisted calls to meddle with November’s presidential results.Vernon Jones, a former Democratic state lawmaker-turned-Trump supporter, is mounting an insurgent campaign to defeat Gov. Brian Kemp in a primary next year on the grounds that Kemp did not do enough to throw the election for Trump and frequently makes statements blasting Georgia’s $107-million voting system, which he voted for in 2019.Read More

Most recently, at the Georgia GOP state convention [https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/06/08/at-crossroads-the-georgia-gop-cant-quite-let-go-of-2020] on Jekyll Island, Jones ramped up the pressure for a so-called “forensic audit” of Georgia’s election system (something election experts say cannot be done in Georgia [https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/06/07/heres-how-georgia-could-conduct-forensic-audit-of-novembers-election]) while attacking Kemp.“When I look at what happened with this election integrity, and we got a governor who will not call for a forensic audit in all 159 counties, there’s a damn dead cat on the line,” Jones said to cheers.

“Why won’t he call for a special forensic audit if he said the elections were fine? Why did he sign a new [elections] bill if he said the election was fine?”Falsehoods about the election dominate the primary race for secretary of state, where several challengers are seeking to knock off the Republican incumbent, Brad Raffensperger.

Raffensperger has become a pariah within the party for resisting overtures from Trump and others to overturn the election and find fraud https://www.npr.org/2021/01/03/953012128/this-was-a-scam-in-recorded-call-trump-pushed-official-to-overturn-georgia-voteU.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s (R-Greensboro) campaign for Raffenperger’s post was launched with Trump’s support on the premise of false claims about the election. Hice, one of the leading proponents of election misinformation [https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/03/22/rep-jody-hice-who-pushed-false-election-conspiracies-announces-secretary-of-state] in Congress, told right-wing media outlet Newsmax in November that he was not “convinced at all, not for one second, that Joe Biden won the state of Georgia.”

He also falsely claimed absentee applications were sent to “illegal voters” and echoed debunked claims about suitcases of ballots added into the totals.Hours after the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol, Hice objected to certifying Georgia’s electoral votes and came under fire for a social media post that morning calling the planned objections “our 1776 moment.”JUST ASKING QUESTIONSWhile the conspiracy-driven positions of candidates such as Jody Hice and right-wing media outlets like the Gateway Pundit and One America News Network may be some of the loudest voices on the election, some of the most influential figures occupy less extreme positions on the spectrum of election skepticism.Two of the most visible proponents of misinformation about elections are Burt Jones, who recently said he will soon be announcing a run for statewide office, likely lieutenant governor, and Beach, who is considered a likely candidate for Congress.

Georgia GOP chair David Shafer presented the pair with “Warrior Awards” at the state Republican Party convention over the weekend.“He led the charge, he cosigned lawsuits, he cosigned amicus briefs for lawsuits,” Shafer said of Sen. Jones. “And when it was all said and done, when the General Assembly convened in January, he was stripped of every committee assignment of value because the only people punished or held to account in the last election cycle were the people who called out the election wrongdoing.

Since November, Jones has repeatedly made comments that sowed doubt about the election system that he voted to authorize in 2019. Last month, he called for an audit of last year’s election and suggested on a conservative radio show that, if fraudulent ballots were found, the legislature could reconvene in a special session and overturn results that have already been counted and certified.

“It could change the ultimate outcome of the presidential race as well, if you produce enough ballots to close the gaps that were there,” he told Brian Pritchard on FetchYourNews [https://fyntv.net/article/discussing-the-fulton-county-audit-with-r-ga-state-senator-burt-jones/].

“But at the end of the day, I think we have to put all options on the table for the legislative and executive branch to seek out what the next steps would be.”In addition to signing on to the failed Texas Supreme Court case, calling repeatedly for a special session of the Georgia legislature and attending unofficial legislative hearings that spread conspiracies about the election, Jones joined a group of Georgia lawmakers in signing a letter [https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/02/11/few-consequences-so-far-for-georgia-senators-who-pushed-election-misinformation] in early January calling on then-Vice President Mike Pence to delay certification of the Electoral College votes for 12 days, “to allow for further investigation of fraud, irregularities, and misconduct in the November 2020 general election.”Jones has said he planned to deliver the letter to Pence in person at a Jan. 5 dinner at the vice president’s residence to which he’d been invited. https://web.archive.org/web/20210106053232/https:/twitter.com/burtjonesforga/status/1346691050203721729

In an interview with Oconee Radio Group, Jones said [https://soundcloud.com/user-451902660/lake-state-senator-burt-jones-talks-about-losing-chairmanship-controversial-letter-to-the-vice-president] that in speaking with Pence and his team ahead of the dinner, he determined that the hoped-for delay “was not going to happen.”“We drafted a letter and got some signatures on it,” Jones told GPB News, “but I never delivered the letter because I knew it wasn’t going to do any good one way or the other.”

Also present at the dinner was another signatory to the letter, Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla). Harper, who joined the amicus brief in the Texas suit, was a signatory to the petition for a special session, and attended sham committee hearings on the elections in December, is now seen as a likely candidate for state Agriculture commissioner in 2022.

Both Jones and Harper said they returned to Georgia after the dinner and were not in D.C. when the insurrection erupted the next afternoon.Jones said his questions about the election come from numerous calls he fielded from constituents who said they personally encountered problems with voting and absentee ballots and he said he is troubled by inconsistent statements from the secretary of state’s office explaining problems reported during the vote counting.

He told GPB News that a Georgia Bureau of Investigation examination of evidence gathered in failed lawsuits — plus a court decision in the ongoing Fulton County ballot inspection case — would help answer concerns Republicans have with the election.“I think the findings from that potential court ruling [in the Fulton case] — with or without the GBI’s help — will put some closure to it,” he said.

“You know, you’re never going to satisfy everybody, but it could potentially put some closure to it, but it could also potentially open up a bigger deal.”Amber McReynolds, a mail-in voting expert and former Denver elections chief, said these lawmakers pushing for forensic audits don’t understand the election process and are responding to “conspiracies and lies.”

“The legal attempts all failed due to a lack of evidence, so now this [audit] situation is attempting to create evidence that does not exist to simply continue the lie,” she said.  “If these legislators or those pushing this actually felt there was something wrong in the election process, they would request to audit their own races.”The GBI investigated claims of absentee ballot fraud in Cobb County, but found that only two ballots out of more than 15,000 needed further scrutiny — and it found no counterfeit ballots at all.

The secretary of state’s office and Fulton County officials have devoted numerous press conferences and press releases to knocking down fantastical claims of wrongdoing — from claims of supposedly “pristine” manufactured ballots to tales of suitcases of ballots secretly being added into the count.

The risk-limiting audit that resulted in a full hand count of Georgia’s ballots confirmed the original vote tally, and while the State Election Board is currently investigating dozens of complains from the 2020 election, the only cases referred to the attorney general’s office have been isolated instances of alleged double voting or potentially illegal ballots cast.

A COORDINATED EFFORTGeorgia isn’t the only state that has seen a push to overturn the election and destabilize trust in the voting systems.Republican lawmakers in Georgia and four other battleground states — Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — have spent months chasing false claims of fraud, attempting to overturn the election and changing election laws in the wake of Trump’s defeat, all in a loosely coordinated fashion.

More than 80 legislators from these states, including 12 from Georgia, signed a letter in early January calling on Pence to postpone the count of the Electoral College votes for “at least” 10 days, “affording our respective bodies to meet, investigate, and as a body vote on certification or decertification of the election.”https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HC5j9r5sPN-3fWqVnv8PWhP17FXJZkkx/view?usp=sharing

As justification for the delay, the letter cited “extensive and well-founded accusations of electoral administration mismanagement and deliberate and admitted violations of explicit election laws” in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia.The letter grew out of a Jan. 2 Zoom meeting [https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/election-integrity-group-meets-with-legislators-from-contested-states-301199902.html] of nearly 300 state lawmakers organized by the political nonprofit organization Got Freedom, a self-described “election integrity watchdog.”  

President Trump addressed the meeting at one point. Also on the call were Trump’s personal attorney Giuliani, White House trade adviser Peter Navaro and Justice Department official John Lott Jr.Trump’s participation, according to Politico [https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/03/trump-georgia-election-454122], came immediately after his now-infamous call [https://www.npr.org/2021/01/03/953012128/this-was-a-scam-in-recorded-call-trump-pushed-official-to-overturn-georgia-vote] to Raffensperger, urging the Georgia secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election.

In a message to participants after the call, according to Breitbart [https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/01/03/president-trump-joins-call-urging-state-legislators-to-review-evidence-and-consider-decertifying-unlawful-election-results/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+breitbart+%28Breitbart+News%29#], Got Freedom director Phill Kline, a former Kansas attorney general, urged lawmakers to sign the letter asking Pence for “delay on ratifying the election” so states could “further investigate the lawlessness with which the presidential election was conducted.

In the message, Kline reportedly indicated that a letter to Pence had been drafted by state Reps. Daryl Metcalfe of Pennsylvania, Mark Finchem of Arizona and Georgia state Sen. Beach. Klein confirmed to the Georgia News Lab that Beach had been one of those who drafted the letter.On the night of Jan. 5, Beach’s son-in-law, Rep. David Clark (R-Buford), tweeted a copy of the signed letter [https://twitter.com/DavidClarkGA/status/1346665378806693888] to Pence, tagging Beach, Burt Jones, Rep. Sheri Gilligan (R-Cumming) and William Ligon, whose term as Georgia state senator had recently expired.

Clark, who recently announced [https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/local/state-rep-david-clark-wont-seek-re-election-in-2022/article_6afffbc6-c403-11eb-8196-2b6b3febb030.html] he is stepping down from his House seat to concentrate on his nutritional supplement business, did not respond to messages seeking comment.In an interview with the Georgia News Lab, Beach denied working on the letter that bears his signature and that Kline claims he helped draft.“It’s just not true, I didn’t sign any other letter,”  Beach said.

“We were going to send a letter from the [Georgia] Senate, and [Sen.] Marty Harbin drafted it. Burt Jones was gonna deliver it, and he never delivered it.”When pressed further, Beach said he had no recollection of the letter from national legislators or what Clark posted on social media.In all, 12 current or outgoing Georgia lawmakers signed onto the letter, including state Rep. Timothy Barr (R-Lawrenceville), who recently announced [https://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/politics/state-rep-timothy-barr-announces-run-congress/] he is running for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Jody Hice.Barr said he joined the letter out of concerns about the integrity of the election.

“There were enough abnormalities and irregularities in the election that it left questions in my mind as to the certainty of the results,” Barr told the Georgia News Lab. “I felt it was my job to ensure my constituents’ concerns were heard. This is why I signed the letter to Vice President Pence.”Similarly, Burt Jones said his continued pursuit of extraordinary remedies for an already-decided election is rooted in a belief that the legislature is the final authority if there are disputes.“I’ve always been clear that your legislatures should control how laws are applied in every state,” he said.Arizona state Rep. Finchem, one of the architects of the national letter, issued a statement [https://www.azleg.gov/press/house/55LEG/1R/210111FINCHEM.pdf] in January saying he flew to Washington to deliver the letter and “evidence of fraud” to Pence on Jan. 6.It remains unclear whether Finchem, who has played a prominent role in efforts to try to overturn the presidential election, ever delivered the letter because of the events that transpired that day [https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-republican-mark-finchem-ali-alexander-jan-6-capitol-rally-riot-11532291].Neither Finchem or Metcalfe responded to messages.

The push to use manufactured controversies over the 2020 election as a campaign strategy for 2022 goes beyond isolated candidates seeking a leg up in the primary, and is becoming a mainstream part of Republican politics.Over the weekend, at the state GOP convention on Jekyll Island, Georgia Republicans passed a resolution calling on the legislature to go further than the sweeping new voting law, SB 202, and eliminate no-excuse absentee voting and make other draconian changes to Georgia election law.

David Shafer, fresh off reelection as party chair, has added his voice to those calling for a forensic audit and traveled to Arizona with Jones and Beach.On the John Fredericks Radio Show, a right-wing radio outlet growing in popularity among the state’s grassroots Republicans, Shafer pointed out his role as a co-plaintiff in Trump’s election challenge lawsuit (eventually dropped [https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/01/07/trump-campaign-drops-all-georgia-election-challenges] by the campaign) and said he “absolutely [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxGl7I2pxZo]” supports the audit.“There’s many questions about the election that have never been answered,” he said. “And I think a forensic audit would answer those.”

As the official platform of the Georgia Republican Party zeroes in on pushing discredited claims about voting and elections, the actions of these ambitious candidates have the ability to shape the outcome of future elections — for better or worse.This story comes to our defendyourvotingrights.org through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia. [Emphasis added in boldface].

 

2021: What Key Mistakes are Trump Republicans Making?

Republicans Are Making 4 Key Mistakes

Misperceptions and rage are blinding Republicans—and their voter-suppression measures may backfire.

By David Frum

About the author:

David Frum is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy (2020). In 2001 and 2002, he was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

APRIL 13, 2021

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/republicans-are-making-four-key-mistakes/618575/

[Excerpts:]

#1 Voter suppression can countermobilize its targets.

In the 2010s, Republicans used their dominance of state politics to raise obstacles to voting. Sometimes the methods worked. The 2014 elections were marked by the lowest turnout since the Second World War—and a resounding Republican win in U.S. Senate elections. In 2016, a decline in Black voters’ turnout in midwestern industrial states, notably Michigan, helped secure the White House for Donald Trump. More often, though, Republican efforts to discourage African American voting have inspired countermobilization, driving increased turnout.

Modern voter suppression raises the sorts of petty, bureaucratic obstacles to voting familiar from Jim Crow, but does not reproduce its deadly violence. Requiring extra paperwork, imposing burdensome identification requirements, and facilitating lengthy queues on voting day are effective ways of dissuading people who are only weakly committed to the political process; they are less effective against people strongly committed to the process. But in the 2010s, Republicans repeatedly used voter suppression to elect politicians—including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and President Donald Trump—who proceeded to convert their opponents’ weakly committed supporters into strongly committed voters.

 #2 Republicans get discouraged too.

So long as middle-class homeowners reliably voted Republican, the GOP reliably benefited from rules that tilted the electorate toward middle-class homeowners.

But that so long as condition is ceasing to apply. Over the past 20 years, Republicans have traded suburban voters for rural voters. They have lost ground among the college-educated and gained ground among voters who did not attend college. They have weakened among 40-somethings and gained among 70-somethings. The result of all those shifts is an electorate in which many of the voters most likely to be discouraged by voter suppression are Republicans, not Democrats.

 #3 Blatant voter suppression may galvanize the courts and Congress.

But the judiciary is about to become rather less conservative. There are 68 vacancies on the federal bench, and another two dozen or so are likely to open soon. The Biden administration is moving fast to fill them. And as the world witnessed in 2020, some antidemocratic acts by Republican legislatures can exceed the tolerance even of Republican-appointed judges.

 #4 Winning votes is better than suppressing them.

Would it not make more sense for Republicans to try to speed these voters to the polls rather than harass and deter them with long queues? Would a wiser use of political resources not be to compete to keep their votes in 2022 rather than engineer the voting system to thwart their votes? The middle-aged educated homeowners whose ballots are favored by voter-suppression laws are ceasing to be a reliable Republican bloc. Some of the groups most targeted by voter suppression are rapidly becoming more Republican. Republicans would be smarter to switch off the race-baiters on cable news, read the precinct reports, and do the solid work necessary to earn and secure votes from voters who are ready to vote Republican if only the party will allow them to vote at all.

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO AMERICAN CONSERVATISM?

The rich philosophical tradition I fell in love with has been reduced to Fox News and voter suppression.


https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/01/brooks-true-conservatism-dead-fox-news-voter-suppression

 

 

2022: Four More Mistakes Trump’s GOP-in-Name-Only is Making

Source: Axios Sneak Peek, by Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Zachary Basu 

Jun 08, 2022

 

1. Subpoena defiance.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and four other House Republicans have signaled they do not plan to comply with subpoenas issued by the committee last month.

2. Trump’s continuing involvement.

  • Axios reported last week the former president has not ruled out a public appearance as part of an effort by him and his allies to flood the airwaves with their own messaging.

3. Loyalty test.

  • [C]hoosing not to defend the former president could trigger a backlash and potential retribution.

4.  Groundwork for retaliation.

    • House Republicans are eager to sink their teeth into the Biden administration and Democrats if they take back the majority next year, including with their own Watergate-style hearings covering a catalog of alleged wrongdoing.
    • Jordan, who spoke at today’s press conference, would be chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee if Republicans take power, and he’s promised to unleash a flood of investigations as retribution.

 

Who is the Cicero of today’s Republican Party??  

 

Who was Cicero?

The Catilinarian conspiracy was a plot, devised by the Roman senator Lucius Sergius Catilina (or Catiline), with the help of a group of fellow aristocrats and disaffected veterans of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, to overthrow the consulship of Marcus Tullius Cicero and Gaius Antonius Hybrida.

Late in the year of 63 BC, Cicero exposed the conspiracy and forced Catiline to flee from Rome. The conspiracy was chronicled by Sallust in his work The Conspiracy of Catiline, and this work remains an authority on the matter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catilinarian_conspiracy

 

Who is Cicero of today’s Republican Party?  

None other than . . . Liz Cheney

 

“Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.”

– Shakespeare, Measure for Measure (Act 3 Scene 1)

 

. . . & all other Republicans of courage who call out the petty populist Trump, who lacks all  cardinal Republican virtues, ruling by lies, fear and disregard for all then binds a Republic.

Recall that The Big Book of Virtue is premised on virtue, conscience, duty and action.

 

Liz Cheney announces her latest plan to keep Trump out of White House

 

[Excerpt:]

Liz Cheney, a former Republican leader in the House of Representatives before she was booted from office by GOP voters for leading the investigation into former President Trump, has vowed to do everything possible to keep Trump from returning to the presidency.

On Wednesday, after Trump’s GOP rival, Nikki Haley, withdrew from the Republican presidential primary, Cheney announced her latest effort: a Political Action Committee aimed at helping President Biden get re-elected.

 

Liz Cheney on why she believes Trump’s reelection would mean the end of our republic

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/liz-cheney-oath-and-honor-on-trump-reelection-and-the-end-of-our-republic/?

In her new book, “Oath and Honor,” the former GOP Congresswoman warns of the threats to the Constitution posed by Donald Trump, and calls blocking Trump and preventing a Republican House majority from rejecting election results “the cause of our time.”

 

Letters from an American, Heather Scott Richardson

Oct. 7, 2022

The Republican Party’s shift toward authoritarianism is clear in the refusal of a majority of the party’s nominees for office this fall to agree that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

Amy Gardner of the Washington Post ran the numbers and found that 299 Republican candidates for the House, Senate, and important state offices are election deniers, and that 174 of them are running in districts that are safely Republican. If Republicans win the House in November, election deniers will form a strong voting bloc that will affect the choice of the next speaker; some are already complaining that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is too moderate. Many of those elected in states will oversee state elections.

The Republican narrative that Democrats can win only by cheating began back in 1994, after the Democrats made registering to vote easier with the 1993 so-called Motor Voter Act. In 1994, losing Republican candidates complained their opponents had cheated, and congressional Republicans kept that narrative alive with congressional investigations. Over time, “voter fraud” became the way Republicans explained away the unpopularity of their ideas.

Trump’s continuing insistence that he won the 2020 election, and the Republican Party’s embrace of that lie despite the fact that Biden won by more than 7 million votes in the popular vote and by 306 to 232 in the Electoral College, says that they will never again consider the election of a Democrat legitimate.

In Arizona, where the Republican nominee for governor, Kari Lake, has said that Biden is an illegitimate president and the Republican nominee for secretary of state, Mark Finchem, has said that he would not have certified the true 2020 election results in Arizona, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) last night at an event at Arizona State University urged Arizona voters to elect Democrats.

“If you care about democracy and you care about the survival of our republic, then you need to understand—we all have to understand—that we cannot give people power who have told us that they will not honor elections,” Cheney said. [Boldface added]

 

Cheney urges Ariz. voters to reject GOP candidates for governor, secretary of state

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/06/cheney-arizona-republicans-trump/

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) urged voters in Arizona to reject Republican nominees for governor and secretary of state, describing them as threats to democracy because they have worked to overturn election results in 2020 and indicated they may not accept the outcome this year.

“If you care about democracy, and you care about the survival of our Republic, then you need to understand, we all have to understand, that we cannot give people power who have told us that they will not honor elections,” Cheney said during an appearance at Arizona State University.

The congresswoman, one of former president Donald Trump’s fiercest critics, is vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. She spoke late Wednesday at the McCain Institute’s “Defending American Democracy Series.”

Cheney’s targets were Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, a former television reporter, and secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, a state legislator. Lake has been endorsed by Trump and, like Finchem, falsely claims the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Finchem was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 when it was attacked by Trump supporters looking to stop Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s win. He also said he was interviewed by federal officials about the attack but has denied any wrongdoing.

Lake has called President Biden an “illegitimate president” while echoing Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged. Finchem has said that if he had been secretary of state in 2020, he would not have certified Biden’s win in the state.

Lake and Finchem have suggested that next month’s midterm results could be tainted by fraud

Reviews of the state’s 2020 election results have shown no widespread fraud.

Public polling shows Lake is in a statistical tie with her Democratic opponent, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. There is not widespread polling in the secretary of state race, where Finchem faces Democrat Adrian Fontes, a former Maricopa County Recorder.

Pressed by an attendee on what a Republican voter should do, Cheney said, “I don’t know that I have ever voted for a Democrat. But if I lived in Arizona now, I absolutely would — and for governor and for secretary of state.”

The comments Wednesday from Cheney are her latest warning to Republicans and come after her sharp break with the GOP following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of Trump who believed his false claims that he won the election

Her warning also comes as nearly 300 election deniers are on the ballot across the country in the midterms, posing not only a potential threat to this year’s counting and certification of election results but potentially in the presidential election in 2024 as well.

The McCain Institute is named after the state’s late Republican senator — John McCain, who criticized Trump and drew his wrath.

Since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Cheney has spoken out not only against Trump but his supporters in the party and candidates who, like Trump, refuse to accept the results of the 2020 election. Her rebuke won her adulation across the aisle but made her a pariah in her party. She was deposed from a leadership position in the Republican House caucus and in August she lost her GOP primary for reelection.

 

Liz Cheney Already Has a 2024 Strategy

To save the Republican Party, the defeated Wyoming representative may first have to destroy it.

August 17, 2022

 

Liz Cheney, the Republican From the State of Reality

She isn’t really fighting to keep her seat in Congress. She’s fighting Donald Trump.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/liz-cheneys-kamikaze-campaign

[Excerpt:]

Cheney’s titular role on the select committee is vice-chair, but she has defined, more than any other member, the stakes of the investigation.

At the dais, where she is often enlisted to deliver opening and closing remarks, sometimes speaking directly to Republicans about the deterioration of her own party, she has evoked what the political writer Katherine Miller has called a “granite singularity”—a presentation so emotionally neutral that it invites viewers to see her less as a political actor than as a tool of law.

When I spoke with some of Cheney’s select-committee colleagues, they credited her with deflating conservative efforts to denounce the hearings as a partisan exercise. One Democrat pointed out her voting record: she’d sided with Trump about ninety-three per cent of the time. No one could call her a rino.

 

Liz Cheney Takes On Trump, and Her Own Party

June 9, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/09/us/politics/liz-cheney-jan-6-vice-chair

[Excerpts:]

WASHINGTON — Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, had just matter-of-factly rattled off a string of damning revelations illustrating how former President Trump had stoked the mob who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when she paused to address the members of her own party who she said were “defending the indefensible.”

“There will come a day when President Trump is gone,” Ms. Cheney said. “But your dishonor will remain.”

Her rebuke, part of the searing opening remarks she delivered at the first prime-time hearing to lay out the Jan. 6 committee’s findings, marked the culmination of a remarkable arc for Ms. Cheney, the daughter of a prominent conservative family, from one of the most powerful leaders in her party to one of its most vocal critics, and a reviled foe of its de facto leader.

Mr. Trump, she argued, had thrown the republic into “a moment of maximum danger” not seen before.

“The sacred obligation to defend this peaceful transfer of power has been honored by every American president — except one,” Ms. Cheney said.

They were striking words coming from Ms. Cheney, who had been one of the most powerful Republicans in the House when she was ejected from her leadership post last year for bluntly and repeatedly condemning Mr. Trump’s false election claims and blaming him for the riot.

But Ms. Cheney did not back down, and in taking a leadership role on the Jan. 6 panel, she has elevated herself as perhaps the foremost critic of Mr. Trump in today’s Republican Party. She has said she views the assignment as the most important of her political career, and she often uses language borrowed from the criminal code — delivered in a characteristically blunt tone — to make clear that she believes the former president faces criminal exposure.

“Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them: that the election was stolen, and that he was the rightful president,” Ms. Cheney said. “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”

In Wyoming, we know what it means to ride for the brand,” Ms. Cheney said. “We live in the greatest nation God has ever created, and our brand is the United States Constitution.”

 

Cheney faces pivotal moment with Jan. 6 prime time hearing

The launch this week of public hearings into last year’s deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol marks a pivotal phase for the investigation, the Congress and the country. And as both parties anxiously await the select committee’s findings — and the public’s reaction to them — few have more on the line than Rep. Liz Cheney.The Wyoming Republican has not only embraced her role as a leading figure in Congress’s expansive examination of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, she’s also assumed the GOP face of the anti-Trump movement in the process — a high-stakes gamble that’s made her both a pariah within her conference and a hero to those national Republicans fighting to steer the party away from the influence of former President Trump.

BY MIKE LILLIS AND REBECCA BEITSCH

06/08/22

 

Cheney: ‘There is absolutely a cult of personality around Donald Trump’

BY CAROLINE VAKIL

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, said in an excerpt of an interview released Friday that “there is absolutely a cult of personality around Donald Trump.”

“We have too many people now in the Republican Party who are not taking their responsibilities seriously, and who have pledged their allegiance and loyalty to Donald Trump. I mean it is fundamentally antithetical — it is contrary to everything conservatives believe to embrace a personality cult,” Cheney told CBS’s Robert Costa. “And yet that is what so many in my party are doing today.”

Trumpism versus Reaganism

Bill Schneider is an emeritus professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and author of “Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable” (Simon & Schuster).
[Excerpts:]

The Trump phenomenon is more autocratic than its predecessors.

Its highest principle is personal loyalty to Trump, who attacks anyone who defies him — even if they are on the same side politically. He publicly called Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Republican Senate Leader, a “dumb son of a bitch” and a “stone cold loser” for not doing more last year to block certification of Joe Biden’s electoral vote victory. 

This year, Trump is on a personal vendetta to wreak vengeance on his perceived enemies. He is campaigning to defeat Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) because she voted to impeach him for incitement of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump met with a wall of resistance in Georgia last week when his endorsed candidate for governor got crushed in the GOP primary and the secretary of state — who refused Trump’s demand that he “find” votes for Trump after the 2020 polls closed — got reelected.

Ronald Reagan held fast to his conservative beliefs but was tolerant of those who disagreed with him. His “Eleventh Commandment” was “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” Yet no one ever accused Reagan of being a wuss. 

In a recent CBS News poll, a majority of Americans describe Trump’s Republican Party as “extreme.”

 

Opinion

Liz Cheney: The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.

 

Forced to Choose Between Trump’s “Big Lie” and Liz Cheney, the House G.O.P. Chooses the Lie

“Liz is a living reproach to all these cowards,” a friend of Cheney’s said, but the cowards have the votes.

By Susan B. Glasser

May 6, 2021

https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-bidens-washington/forced-to-choose-between-trumps-big-lie-and-liz-cheney-the-house-gop-chooses-the-lie

This Monday, Trump sent out a short statement, the kind that he would have tweeted out before his falsehoods about the recent election got him banned from Twitter. In it, he said, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as the big lie!” Soon after that, Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican leader, sent out an actual tweet refusing to accept this Trumpian redefinition of truth.

“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” she wrote. “Anyone who claims it was is spreading the big lie.” [Boldface added]

And also:

 

‘The Opposite of Politics’: A Conservative Legal Scholar Says Kicking Trump Off the Ballot Is ‘Unassailable’

J. Michael Luttig explains why he thinks the 14th Amendment should prevent Trump from running for president again.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/12/21/luttig-14th-amendment-trump-00132792

[Excerpt:]

Do you worry at all about the political blowback that a judicial decision removing Trump from ballots could spark?

I do, but what I would say, though, is this: The Constitution itself tells us that disqualification of the former president is not anti-democratic. Rather, the Constitution tells us that it is the conduct that can give rise to disqualification under the 14th Amendment that is anti-democratic.

I would add that we are a nation of laws, not of men, and it is the Constitution of the United States that is providing the avenue for the disqualification of the former president. This is not politics. This is the opposite of politics. This is constitutional law. And right now, the courts — the state courts and eventually the Supreme Court — will be interpreting the Constitution of the United States without regard to politics, let alone partisan politics.

 

George Conway, J. Michael Luttig and 

The writers are lawyers. Mr. Conway was in private practice. Mr. Luttig was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1991 to 2006. Ms. Comstock represented Virginia’s 10th District in Congress from 2015 to 2019. They serve on the board of the newly formed Society for the Rule of Law Institute.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/21/opinion/trump-lawyers-constitution-democracy

 

The Memo: Georgia indictment reminds voters of the Republicans who stood up to Trump

https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/the-memo-georgia-indictment-reminds-voters-of-the-republicans-who-stood-up-to-trump

The latest indictment of former President Trump, in Georgia, differs from the other three cases he faces in one key respect.

The case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) shines a light on the role Republican officials played in pushing back on Trump’s false claims of election fraud and thwarting his plans to overturn the result.

This alone greatly complicates Trump’s preferred narrative, whereby he is the put-upon victim of President Biden and Democrats as he seeks to regain the White House. The former president labeled the indictments against him “election interference” in three social media posts Friday.

Such claims sit uneasily with the resistance he encountered in Georgia from Republican figures like Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

As Trump again stokes fictions about fraud in the aftermath of the indictment, Kemp has again become an important opponent.

The Georgia governor has left virtually no doubt that he is skeptical about the former president’s 2024 candidacy, which is animated in large part by grievances about the 2020 defeat.

On Friday, Kemp told a conservative gathering in Atlanta, “It should be such an easy path for us [the Republican Party] to win the White House back but … We have to be focused on the future, not something that happened three years ago.”

 

Trump’s election lies and the Republicans who corrected him

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/08/02/trump-lies-2020-election-fraud-indictment/

[Excerpts:]

AsDonald Trump sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, a chorus of top Republicans told him repeatedly that his claims of widespread voter fraud were false.

That pushback now sits at the heart of the federal indictment brought against Trump this week in the Justice Department investigation of his attempts to cling to power.

Special counsel Jack Smith is setting out to show that Trump knew he was lying when he unleashed his torrent of election falsehoods that culminated with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol — an important part for convicting Trump on the four charges he’s facing.

To that end, the indictment lays out a drumbeat of episodes — many of them already public — when Trump was told that bogus statements about fraudulent ballots being counted or votes being flipped to Joe Biden were false. They came from a range of people in his orbit, including White House lawyers, administration appointees, state GOP officials and his campaign staffers. Trump has denied wrongdoing.

The indictment references at least nine administration officials, among others, who told Trump that the election was not stolen or that his schemes to remain in the White House were untenable. The officials are not named in the indictment, but some of their identities can be discerned by matching descriptions of their activities in the indictment with public reporting. Here are the key people who corrected Trump on his election lies and what they said:


Avatar of Vice President Mike Pence

Trump peppered his vice president with false claims about election fraud in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, pressuring him multiple times to use his role in certifying the vote to keep him in power. Per the indictment Pence pushed back in a phone call on Christmas Day. “You know I don’t think I have the authority to change the outcome,” he said.

Days later, Trump told Pence that he had the authority to send votes back in contested states. Pence responded that “he thought there was no constitutional basis for such authority and that it was improper,” according to the indictment.


Avatar of Attorney General William Barr

When Trump claimed there had been a “suspicious vote dump” in Detroit, Barr told him the allegation was false, according to the indictment. He also sought to dispel Trump’s claims that voting machines in contested states had switched votes from Trump to Biden.


Avatars of Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue

On multiple occasions, Trump allegedly summoned Rosen and Donoghue to talk about a video that he and allies said showed election workers at State Farm Arena in Atlanta counting “suitcases” of illegal ballots. Per the indictment they told him that the activity in the footage was “benign,” saying later that investigators had reviewed the tape and had “not identified suspicious conduct.”

In at least two conversations, prosecutors allege that Trump told Rosen and Donoghue that he believed there had been 205,000 more votes than voters in Pennsylvania. “Each time, the Justice Department officials informed the defendant that his claim was false,” the indictment says.

Trump made similar claims per the indictment about Wisconsin that Rosen shot down. Rosen and Donoghue were also among the officials who allegedly told Trump that numerous audits had confirmed that voting machine tallies were accurate.


Avatar of Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe, an adviser handpicked by Trump to brief him on national security matters, “disabused” Trump of the notion that “the Intelligence Community’s findings regarding foreign interference would change the outcome of the election,” the indictment says.

Avatar of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs

Krebs, a Republican chosen by Trump to lead the newly-formed agency, joined a multi-agency statement that said the 2020 election the “most secure in American history” and said claims of computer-based election fraud were unsubstantiated.


Avatar of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone

On the evening of Jan. 6, 2021, after law enforcement quelled the violence at the Capitol, Cipollone called on Trump to “withdraw any objections and allow the certification” of Biden’s victory, according to the indictment. Trump refused.


Avatars of Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey And House Speaker Lee Chatfield

Per the indictment Shirkey and Chatfield met with Trump in the Oval Office on Nov. 20, 2020, and heard Trump’s false claims about illegitimate voting in Detroit. They said afterward in a joint statement that they had “not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome” in the state.

Yet over the following three weeks, Trump and his allies continued to pressure them to reverse the state’s results.

“We have not received evidence of fraud on a scale that would change the outcome in Michigan,” Shirkey said in a Dec. 14 statement. Chatfield echoed him, saying: “I can’t fathom risking our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution retroactively changing the electors for Trump, simply because some think there may have been enough widespread fraud to give him the win.”


Avatar of Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers

Per the indictment Trump and his alleged co-conspirators claimed in a conversations with Bowers that thousands of noncitizens, nonresidents and dead people had voted in Arizona.

Bowers told them investigations had uncovered no evidence of significant fraud in the state. He said in a Dec. 4, 2020, statement that it would violate his oath of office, “the basic principles of republican government, and the rule of law if we attempted to nullify the people’s vote based on unsupported theories of fraud.”


Avatar of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse his defeat in the state in an hour-long phone call on Jan. 2, 2021. Raffensperger debunked a number of his false claims, including allegations that thousands of dead people had voted.

“Well, Mr. President,” he said, “the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”

 

Adam Kinzinger Vows to Fight Trump ‘Cancer’ After Leaving Congress

https://www.thedailybeast.com/adam-kinzinger-vows-to-fight-trump-cancer-after-leaving-congress

Kinzinger the ‘homeless Republican’ launches ad campaign against extremism

The former House lawmaker isn’t done calling on his fellow Republicans to reject the party’s more extremist elements.

The Illinois Republican’s political organization is launching a nationwide campaign urging voters to reject extreme candidates on both sides of the aisle ahead of the 2024 election. The centerpiece of the campaign is a nearly six-minute-long short film titled “Break Free,” inspired by Apple’s “1984” Super Bowl ad about escaping the conformity of non-Apple computers.

In the political ad’s twist, people are forced to wear blue- and red-tinted goggles showing them divisive images and broadcasts from a “Big Brother”-type character until they take them off and escape. A monologue from Kinzinger urges Americans to reject political extremes

“What we’re showing, by the video, is we’ve been programmed so much to believe that there’s only two choices to everything, that the other side is our enemy, that each event in the world should be seen through blue or red glasses,” Kinzinger said in an interview. “And we’re saying there’s a completely different way.”

He said the nationwide campaign’s rollout, which will include TV, digital, billboard and guerilla marketing, will involve spending as close to “a quarter million [dollars] or more.” Shorter versions of the video will be displayed too.

And as an example of what Kinzinger described as “performance art,” people have been spotted around Capitol Hill wearing the all-white costumes from the video. The former congressman said the display was also meant to draw attention to how many lawmakers on Capitol Hill were just “looking for that next social media opportunity, and not actually trying to do what their constituents need.”

“It’s just another way to put that in perspective,” he added. “And it’s a little creepy too.”

Kinzinger broke with his party after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, eventually serving as one of two Republicans on the select panel investigating the insurrection. He now identifies as a “homeless Republican.”

Asked about the select panel’s unfinished business, he said his “working assumption” was that the Department of Justice and Senate Democrats might be able to carry on the investigative mantle from the select panel, which sunsetted at the end of the last Congress.

“The Senate needs to pick up that slack,” he said.

There were still investigative leads to pursue with the Secret Service, Kinzinger said, and with former President Donald Trump’s social media manager Dan Scavino, who had resisted the select panel’s subpoena and was eventually held in contempt of Congress. He did agree, however, that the Jan. 6 select committee had acted correctly in not further pushing former Vice President Mike Pence’s testimony, saying it would have taken up “a ton of energy for probably, as far as we were concerned, probably not a ton of information that’s useful.”

“There’s a lot of those kinds of loose ends that, while I’m impressed at the committee’s ability to put together what we were able to do … if we had more time or infinite time, I think we could have done a lot more,” Kinzinger said.

Kinzinger didn’t close the door to running for office again, though he said it wouldn’t be in the near future.

“There’s a good chance I run for something again someday,” he said. “But I definitely need to take a good breather and a reset and focus on my wife and kid right now.”

And also:
Rep. Don Newhouse of Washington, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Rep. Peter Meiger of Michigan, Rep. John Katko of New York, Rep. David Valadao of California, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Sen Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. 
And also:
Former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle: 

Partially driving the new waves of concern have been a stream of major new revelations about how close the plotting around a Trump-led coup to keep him in office came to succeeding.

Specifically, there was the discovery and leaking of the so-called Eastman memo — developed by conservative lawyer and Federalist Society member John Eastman — that spelled out a point-by-point plan for how Vice President Mike Pence could push to not certify valid Electoral College results at the Jan. 6 proceedings and either declare Trump the winner or throw the contest into the House, which would likely elect Trump with its arcane 18th-century rules.New reporting shows that Pence didn’t necessarily reject this ridiculous advice out of hand, but was talked down by Establishment Republicans including the most unlikeliest of heroes (or “heros”), Indiana’s former GOP veep Dan Quayle.https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/trump-election-fraud-pennsylvania-2022-election-20210926.html?scrolla=5eb6d68b7fedc32c19ef33b4by Will BunchSept. 26, 2021

And also: 

Jeff Flake Got More Than He Bargained For—a Job Brokering Peace in Ukraine

Jeff Flake tried to save the GOP from Donald Trump. He’s now one of the lead U.S. diplomats trying to save Ukraine from Vladimir Putin.Sam Brodey, Congressional ReporterUpdated Mar. 11, 2022 https://www.thedailybeast.com/jeff-flake-got-more-than-he-bargained-fora-job-brokering-peace-in-ukraine?via=newsletter&source=PoliticsIn his last job, Jeff Flake went to work every day with the risk of provoking the wrath of the world’s most powerful person: then-President Donald Trump.Three years after he retired as a Republican U.S. senator from Arizona rather than hold his tongue about the president, Flake has found himself a new job. And somehow, it might make his old one look like a breeze by comparison.With the world on edge over Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Flake is stationed halfway across the world, serving as U.S. ambassador to a complicated ally with a unique ability to push for peace: Turkey.When President Joe Biden nominated Flake to the post last year, the move was seen as a way for Biden to signal his commitment to bipartisanship—and, perhaps, a reward for Flake, who campaigned for Biden in 2020.

And also: 

GOP senator says Trump’s election allegations are unfounded

“The election was fair, as fair as we have seen,” Mike Rounds said.By DAVID COHEN01/09/2022https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/09/mike-rounds-trump-election-republicans-526806

And also:

We Are Republicans. There’s Only One Way to Save Our Party From Pro-Trump Extremists.

Oct. 11, 2021

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/11/opinion/2022-house-senate-trump.html?referringSource=articleShare

ByMiles Taylorand Christine Todd Whitman

And also:

“The Unsung Heroes of the 2020 Presidential Election”

January 9, 2022, 1:12 pmelection subversion riskRICK HASEN

Luke Broadwater for the NYT reviews:

THE STEAL: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It. By Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague. 

The unheralded and mostly unknown Republicans active in local politics who refused to go along with Trump’s lies — and played a key role in preserving American democracy — are the main subject of “The Steal,” by the journalists Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague.

At 230 pages of text, their book is a lean, fast-paced and important account of the chaotic final weeks of the Trump administration.Several major works have already been published about those last days, including “Peril,” from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, and “I Alone Can Fix It,” by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. (Those books by Washington Post journalists have served as source material for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.)

In fact, the opening scene of “The Steal,” depicting Trump’s internal mind-set, is sourced to “Frankly, We Did Win This Election,” by Michael C. Bender of The Wall Street Journal.But what “The Steal” offers is a view of the election through the eyes of state- and county-level officials. We see Biancaniello confronting her fellow Republicans, who were raising hell at a vote-counting center (“Do you understand that you can suspect something, but it means nothing if you don’t have evidence,” she tells one); and Bishop, whom the authors call in one sense maybe “the most authentic Republican in America,” explaining to a fellow Republican: “Dude, I voted for the same guy you did. I’m just telling you it wasn’t stolen; these ballots weren’t illegally cast.”

In Maricopa County, Hickman listened to claims of fraud, but concluded that the count was accurate, and then refused to take Trump’s telephone calls. “What did the president expect of him?” Bowden and Teague write. “Nothing honorable.”

And also:

Speaker Paul Ryan said that more House Republicans would have voted to impeach Trump if they’d had the “guts.”

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-paul-ryan-pathetic-loser-fox-news-2022-6

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at former House Speaker Paul Ryan after he said that more House Republicans would have voted to impeach Trump if they’d had the “guts.”

On Saturday, Trump took to his Truth Social platform to call Ryan a “pathetic loser” and a “weak RINO” – Republican in Name Only.

“Did anyone notice that Fox News went lame (bad!) when weak RINO Paul Ryan, who is despised in the Great State of Wisconsin for being ‘a pathetic loser,’ went on the Fox Board,” Trump said.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who served as speaker of the House from 2015 until 2019, joined Fox Corp’s board of directors after he left office.

Trump complained that Fox News wouldn’t talk about “an obviously Rigged 2020 Presidential Election,” repeating his false claims about election fraud.

“That’s why our Country is going to HELL – Elections have consequences. Get Ryan off your Board and report the News as it should be reported. And stop taking negative ads from the perverts, and others!!!”

Trump did not elaborate on which ads or who the perverts were.

The former president and former house speaker have long had a tumultuous relationship. Since he retired from politics, Ryan has been increasingly critical of Trump, rebuking his election fraud claims and urging the GOP to move away from “the populist appeal of one personality.”

And also:

Certain Republican members of Red State legislatures:

As Republicans Push to Limit Voting, Disagreements on Strategy Emerge:

Trump-friendly state lawmakers trying to enact new voting laws are facing pockets of opposition from fellow Republicans who argue that some measures go too far or would hurt the party’s own voters.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/us/politics/republican-voting-laws.html

And also:

The Republican Party’s top lawyer called election fraud arguments by Trump’s lawyers a ‘joke’ that could mislead millions

By Josh Dawsey

July 13, 2021

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/rnc-trump-stop-the-steal/2021/07/12/79e58a02-e320-11eb-934f-7e6c1927f261_story.html

Justin Riemer, the Republican National Committee’s chief counsel, sought to discourage a Republican Party staffer from posting debunked claims about ballot fraud on RNC accounts, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.

Download The Washington Post app.

And also:

Larry Hogan’s Impossible Dream

By Charlie Sykes TheBulwark.com

February 14, 2022

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/

[Excerpts:]

I, am, of course, referring to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who hinted yesterday that he might make a 2024 presidential run and said he believes “there is a pretty large lane of sane Republicans and they’re looking for a voice.”And I expect the professional Eeyores on this site — and I name no names here — to have a similar reaction. And they won’t be wrong.But, this also seems a good time to remind ourselves that we are going to have to make a series of difficult choices in the near future about hope, realism, redemption, and principles.Let’s start with the balance of hope and realism. Polls, history, and our own eyes tell us that there is a vanishingly small constituency for sanity in the still-Trump-dominated GOP. But despair is not really a viable strategy, as seductive as it might feel, and Hogan seems to be stepping up where so many others have whiffed (looking at you, Ben Sasse).So, even though the odds are overwhelming…. Huzzah?

Opinion: Republicans who voted to impeach Trump might be in less peril than people thinkBy Henry Olsen ColumnistFebruary 18, 2022 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/18/cheney-mccarthy-endorsement-hageman-republican-primary-wyoming/

 

The Verdict of History is Already being Written

 

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

May 16, 2023

[Excerpt:]

Professor of journalism at New York University Jay Rosen noted on MSNBC on May 11, the day after CNN gave Trump the space to hold what amounted to a political rally, that journalists could better cover this moment in our history by focusing not on the horse race strategy, but on the consequences for the country if Trump wins again. How will American life change? Who will benefit? Who will suffer? He says the question should be “not the odds, but the stakes” as a principle for better campaign coverage.

Pence says ‘history will hold Donald Trump accountable’ for Jan. 6

‘Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace,’ the former vice president said at Washington’s annual Gridiron dinner

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2023/03/11/pence-says-history-will-hold-donald-trump-accountable-jan-6th/

Historians privately warn Biden that America’s democracy is teetering

When Biden met with historians last week at the White House, they compared the threat facing America to the pre-Civil War era and to pro-fascist movements before World War II

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/10/biden-us-historians-democracy-threat/

Opinion
History will accept only one Jan. 6 narrative. This committee has it.

 

Woodward and Bernstein thought Nixon defined corruption. Then came Trump.