Understand the Threats



When Donald Trump installed a new chairman of the Republican Party this month, he explained privately and publicly what he wanted from the GOP: a bigger focus on election-related lawsuits, a more aggressive operation to monitor voting and a vow to make “election integrity” the party’s No. 1 priority.

The party is now striking a more aggressive tone as it recruits poll observers to keep an eye on in-person voting and boasts of positioning thousands of lawyers to challenge ballots and bring lawsuits. The strategy — an outgrowth of the one it used both before the 2020 election and after, when Trump sought to overturn the result — is meant to please Trump, electrify the base and persuade judges to tighten voting rules.

“It’s an extremely high priority for the president,” said the new Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Whatley, referring to Trump.


Pennsylvania: “Push to cut 10s of thousands from Allegheny County voter rolls feeds fears”

Public Source:

Clara Osburg has lived in Allegheny County since 2011 and is a regular voter — including in last fall’s municipal election. So it came as a surprise when she received a letter in late January from the county: “Your Allegheny County, Pennsylvania voter registration has been challenged on the basis of residence.”

The letter did not say who challenged her registration, why they did it or what would happen as a consequence.

“At first, I thought perhaps I had done something wrong, like misfiled my taxes or something really concerning like that,” Osburg said. She hadn’t. 

Osburg didn’t know it, but she was caught up in a push by local Republicans to “clean” the voter rolls of people they think may have moved out of the county. 

An informal group of dozens of activists has filed more than 16,000 challenges since the 2022 election, with plans to file another 10,000 by year’s end, even as county officials from both parties say it’s misguided.

“What I’m doing right now is trying to make these public employees do what they’re required to do by their job description under state statute,” said Anthony Golembiewski, a retired PennDOT employee turned GOP committeeman who has led the effort to challenge voters.

The effort won’t remove any names from the rolls ahead of this year’s presidential election because state law requires that several years pass before inactive voters are removed from the rolls without their consent. But some observers say it could fuel bad-faith election fraud claims during a General Election that’s expected to be rife with misinformation. 

“It’s just feeding into this false narrative that there’s something wrong, that Pennsylvania’s not running its elections well,” said Marian Schneider, the senior voting rights policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union Pennsylvania. “I think it’s a much greater risk that voters are illegally removed than they are left on.”…


Potential 2024 ‘Chaos’: Election Deniers Refusing to Certify Results

Election officials in eight states have delayed or refused to certify results since Trump’s 2020 loss — a likely preview of this year’s elections


March 18, 2024



Election Deniers Skirted Campaign Finance Laws in Wisconsin

Campaign loopholes and lax enforcement help election deniers drown out voters’ voices.

The Brennan Center for Justice
March 14, 2024


Mass purges are the new voter suppression

The Brennan Center for Justice

March 12, 2024

The United States still has one of the world’s most decentralized voter registration systems. We want voter rolls to be up-to-date and accurate. People move, die, change party identification, and so on. But election deniers exploit cracks in the county-by-county system. They challenge legitimate registrations, launch mass purges, and seek to weed the voter rolls of citizens they don’t like.

In fact, there’s new evidence that abusive mass voter purges will be a major weapon in the political battles of the coming months. If you can’t win citizens to your side, it appears, then try to prevent them from voting.
The New York Times recently detailed an organized effort involving leaders of the election denial movement. One is Cleta Mitchell, who joined Donald Trump on the notorious phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger that is now the subject of two separate indictments. Another is a top deputy to pillow-magnate-turned-election-conspiracy-theorist Mike Lindell. Their acolytes are launching mass challenges of voter registrations, sometimes 1,000 at a time. They say it’s a citizen-led effort to update the rolls and reduce the potential for voter fraud. Don’t believe it for a second.
For one thing, their efforts appear to be focused on precincts that lean Democratic or are home to large communities of color. This seems to be about politics, not voter-roll hygiene.
Another clue: their methods are bogus. In one incident, activists sent a local election office a list of people on the U.S. Postal Service’s mail-forwarding list who remained registered to vote in the district. Election officials know this is a shoddy approach to roll maintenance. People can ask for their mail to be forwarded for any number of reasons, including college, temporary work assignments, or caring for sick or elderly relatives elsewhere. Sometimes voters haven’t moved an inch; they’ve merely been listed as relocated because someone else in the household asked for mail to be forwarded. In all of these scenarios, the person remains eligible to vote.
A challenge alone should not, in theory, prevent someone from voting. But it can kick off an investigation that results in removal from the rolls if the citizen fails to respond to inquiries — in other words, if they miss a piece of mail. (My colleague Alice Clapman offers a detailed explanation of the right and wrong ways for states to identify ineligible voters and of the laws protecting voters in that process.)
These mass challenges also can resemble a distributed denial of service attack, with emails flooding a website, aiming to just gum up the works. Election officials who are responding to excessive numbers of abusive demands for action won’t have time to process new registrations.
There has been, of course, a tested way to keep the rolls updated: the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC. States use this nonpartisan information-sharing organization to reduce error in maintaining their rolls. For example, rather than relying on mail-forwarding requests, ERIC looks for information like an application for a driver’s license in a different state. It also has access to sensitive information such as encrypted Social Security numbers, reducing the number of false positives. People who move rarely vanish.
ERIC is undoubtedly the best way to avoid voter fraud and keep lists accurate and complete. Bizarrely, a right-wing conspiracy theory claims that it was all a nefarious plot. Nine GOP-dominated states have withdrawn from the system. Gov. Ron DeSantis, for example, boasted of bringing Florida into the ERIC system in 2019, then withdrew in 2023. Nothing changed but the politics.
A right-wing alternative called EagleAI has been launched, supposedly to search for fraud. As we have documented before, it’s poorly designed to catch real wrongdoing — but it could be a tool for disenfranchisement.

Let’s try to recover bipartisan agreement on how to keep voter rolls in shape. Meanwhile, we should brace for a year of efforts by election deniers to wreck what works in our system. Voting rights advocates in and out of government are getting ready to fight back in court. The ability of many of our fellow citizens to participate in this pivotal election will depend on the outcome of this fight.


Texas AG Ken Paxton Successfully Targeted Elected Judges Who Held He Did Not Have Authority to Prosecute Election Fraud

Houston Chronicle:

The Court of Criminal Appeals upsets are much more clearly attributable to Paxton and his political allies, Jones said.

At a campaign event for Marc LaHood in San Antonio in January, Paxton asked for a show of hands of anyone in the room who could name all nine justices. Sure enough, none could.

But he explained why he was making it his mission to make sure they knew about their 2021 opinion that stopped him from unilaterally prosecuting election fraud and the names of their opponents.

Former Dallas appellate judge David Schenck and lawyers Gina Parker and Lee Finley won their races over Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller and Judges Barbara Parker Hervey and Michelle Slaughter, respectively.

“Activist judges have no place on our courts, and tonight’s results reflect the will of the people,” Paxton said in a statement late Tuesday night.

The judges had defended their decision by saying they were following the state Constitution, which they said was clear about the limits of Paxton’s authority.

The upsets translate to a loss of about 60 years of experience from the bench: Keller was first elected in 1994, Hervey in 2000 and Slaughter in 2018.


“‘They didn’t do it clearly enough’: SCOTUS ruling prompts worries of another Jan. 6 crisis”


The Supreme Court said Monday it was avoiding “chaos” by squashing state-level efforts to throw Donald Trump off the ballot.

Instead, the high court may have just shifted that chaos to Congress.

The decision ignited an intense debate among election experts and constitutional scholars about whether the court has opened a path to another Jan. 6 crisis four years after the attack on the Capitol.

That’s because the justices explicitly ruled that the power to determine whether Trump is eligible for another term as president — or is disqualified as an “oathbreaking insurrectionist” — lies with the House and Senate.

The five justices who fully endorsed the court’s lead opinion envisioned Congress passing “enforcement legislation” to make this call. But scholars say the 13-page opinion left room for Trump’s detractors to pursue another path if he receives a majority of electoral votes this November: They could try to throw out his electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2025, when Congress will meet to certify the winner of the 2024 election.

Such a scenario would be an extraordinary turnabout. On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump promoted bogus claims of voter fraud to lobby congressional Republicans to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory — a push that inspired a mob to storm the Capitol and lash out violently when the effort failed. His allies relied on fringe interpretations of the 12th Amendment to push their last-ditch gambit….

“They were trying to avoid all of this. They were trying to foreclose an effort to disqualify Trump after he wins,” said Ned Foley, a constitutional law expert from Ohio State University. “But they didn’t do it clearly enough.”

The lack of clarity, he continued, has sparked a debate: “Is there power in Congress to consider the [disqualification] issue in January?”

The court’s opinion did not explicitly address that scenario. The opinion did stress that, for federal lawmakers to enforce the insurrection clause, they would have to set out criteria for who is disqualified. Congress, the court added, has not passed any legislation enforcing the provision since 1870.

Some experts say formal legislation is crucial. It would strain credulity, they said, for Trump’s opponents in Congress to attempt to unravel an Electoral College victory by the ex-president, at least without forcing them to embrace some untested theories of their own.

“I think today’s opinion will at least close the door on some of that discourse,” said Derek Muller, a constitutional scholar at the University of Notre Dame….

So far, Democrats in Congress — including two who served on the Jan. 6 select committee and concluded that Trump indeed joined an insurrection in 2021 — have expressed caution and restraint.

“It does not at first read appear that the Court indicated a viable path to implement Section 3 of the 14th Amendment absent enactment of a law outlining procedures to do so,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in a statement on the court’s ruling. But she added that she is continuing to review the ruling and hopes to hear from legal experts on Congress’ role.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) echoed that sentiment, telling POLITICO “my initial reading of it suggests that they are saying that Congress must act … to pass a statute, but I am not certain of that and we want to explore it. So I don’t want to pronounce on that.”

Thune, No. 2 Senate Republican, endorses Trump

February 25, 2024 


Thune, who is widely considered to be a possible successor to McConnell in the Senate, had previously endorsed the presidential bid of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), but Scott dropped out of the race in November and has endorsed Trump.

Trump, meanwhile, had called for Thune to have a primary challenger when Thune ran for reelection in 2022, calling the senator a “Republican in name only.” Trump had long attacked Thune and McConnell after the two refused to support the former president’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Opinion Columnist


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?”



“Trump VP contender Tim Scott doesn’t want to talk about vice president’s role in certifying election”


Sen. Tim Scott, a potential running mate if Donald Trump becomes the Republican presidential nominee, is treading carefully on questions about whether he would have certified the 2020 election had he been vice president at that time.

On Jan. 6, 2021, about two months after Trump lost the White House, then-Vice President Mike Pence defied his boss and refused to use his largely ceremonial role in overseeing the election certification process to block Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. Pence went forward with ratification of the Electoral College even after a violent mob of Trump supporters, some of whom chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” swarmed the U.S. Capitol, interrupting the congressional proceedings and forcing Pence, his family and staff into hiding in the complex.

Scott, a Trump rival in the 2024 race who dropped out and later endorsed the former president, declined to say in two Sunday news show interviews whether he would have acted differently as vice president.

“I’m not going to answer hypothetical questions, No. 1,” said Scott, R-S.C. He added: “You’re asking a hypothetical question that you know can never happen again.”

Scott voted in favor of certifying the 2020 results when the Senate got back to work after the siege. He also said during a presidential debate last year that Pence did the right thing when he certified the election…

Scott sidestepped questions Sunday about how he saw the vice president’s role in the certification process.

“The one thing we know about the future is that the former president, fortunately, he’ll be successful in 2024, he won’t be facing that situation again,” Scott said. “So what we should focus on is what will cause the former president, President Trump, to be the next president of the United States.”


Why Trump’s control of the Republican Party is bad for democracy

Associate Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University

Distinguished Practitioner in Grand Strategy, Jackson School of Public Affairs, Yale University

Professor of Political Science, Penn State

https://theconversation.com/why-trumps-control-of-the-republican-party-is-bad-for-democracy-221828[Excerpts:]In our forthcoming book, “The Origins of Elected Strongmen: How Personalist Parties Destroy Democracy from Within,” we explain the dangers that arise when leaders come to power backed by political parties that exist primarily to promote the leader’s personal agenda, as opposed to advancing particular policies.In general, typical political parties select new leaders at regular intervals, which gives elites in the party another chance to win a nomination in the future if the party is popular. And typical parties tend to select leaders who rise up the ranks of the party, having worked with other party elites along the way.But so-called personalist parties, as political scientists like us call them, are a threat to democracy because they lack the incentives and ability to resist their leader’s efforts to amass more power.Since 2016, Trump has increasingly sidelined the traditional party establishment to remake the party into an instrument to further his own personal, political and financial interests. As an indicator of this, the party elite have grown fearful of diverging from his agenda, so much so that the 2020 GOP platform essentially amounted to “whatever Trump wants.” Today, the main qualification for a Republican candidate or appointee appears to be loyalty to Trump himself, not fealty to longstanding GOP principles. Traditional parties, including the pre-Trump Republican Party, offer voters a bundle of policy positions hashed out among multiple elite factions of the party.Trump’s supersized control over the Republican Party has transformed other leading party figures into sycophants, always seeking Trump’s favor. Even Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, after experiencing ridicule and abuse from Trumpendorsed the former president’s bid to return to the White House. 


A federal court declines to revisit a ruling that could weaken the Voting Rights Act


A federal appeals court has denied a request to revisit a ruling that could undermine a key tool for enforcing the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial discrimination in the election process.

It’s the latest move in an Arkansas state legislative redistricting case, filed by civil rights groups representing Black voters in the southern state, that could turn into the next U.S. Supreme Court battle that limits the scope of the landmark civil rights law.

The full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision Tuesday after attorneys led by the American Civil Liberties Union appealed the ruling by a three-judge panel last year.

That panel found that federal law does not allow private groups and individuals — who have for decades brought the majority of lawsuits under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act — to sue because that law does not explicitly name them. Only the head of the Justice Department, the panel found, can bring these kinds of lawsuits.

In the 8th Circuit’s majority opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge David Stras, an appointee of former President Donald Trump who also wrote the panel’s majority opinion, said that the panel’s opinion “mostly speaks for itself.”


“Intimidation of State and Local Officeholders”

New report from the Brennan Center:

Among the report’s findings:

  • 43% of state legislators have experienced threats within the past three years. 18% of local officeholders have experienced threats within the past year and a half. (p. 4)
  • Because of abuse, 39% of local officeholders and 21% of state legislators are less willing to legislate on contentious issues. Officeholders interviewed gave examples like reproductive rights and gun regulation. (p. 16)
  • Among local officeholders, more women and people of color than men or white people have been the subject of abusive language about their children and families. (statistics on p. 8)
  • Local and state officeholders said that abuse has made them reluctant to engage with their constituents online or hold public events. (statistics on p. 19)
  • 39% of local officeholders said at the time of the survey that the abuse lessened their desire to run for reelection. For women in local office, 48% said at the time of the survey that they were less willing to run for reelection compared to 34% of men. 12% of state legislators said at the time of the survey that the abuse lessened their desire to run for higher office. (p. 16)
  • More Republicans than Democrats have experienced an increase in the volume of abuseover the past few years. (p. 8)
  • Many attributed this to backlash within their party and for not supporting extreme policy positions.
  • In interviews, many local and state officeholders pointed to the viral nature of social media as a primary contributor to the high levels of abuse they experience. (p. 15)
  • According to many of the local and state officeholders interviewed, the deregulation of guns has made the abuse they’re experiencing more dangerous for them and their families. (p. 14)


“Elon Musk Is Spreading Election Misinformation, but X’s Fact Checkers Are Long Gone”


In the spring of 2020, when President Donald J. Trump wrote messages on Twitter warning that increased reliance on mail-in ballots would lead to a “rigged election,” the platform ran a corrective, debunking his claims.

“Get the facts about mail-in voting,” a content label read. “Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud,” the hyperlinked article declared.

This month, Elon Musk, who has since bought Twitter and rebranded it X, echoed several of Mr. Trump’s claims about the American voting system, putting forth distorted and false notions that American elections were wide open for fraud and illegal voting by noncitizens.

This time, there were no fact checks. And the X algorithm — under Mr. Musk’s direct control — helped the posts reach large audiences, in some cases drawing many millions of views.

Since taking control of the site, Mr. Musk has dismantled the platform’s system for flagging false election content, arguing it amounted to election interference.

Now, his early election-year attacks on a tried-and-true voting method are raising alarms among civil rights lawyers, election administrators and Democrats. They worry that his control over the large social media platform gives him an outsize ability to reignite the doubts about the American election system that were so prevalent in the lead-up to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

As Mr. Trump’s victory in New Hampshire moved the race closer to general election grounds, the Biden campaign for the first time criticized Mr. Musk directly for his handling of election content on X: “It is profoundly irresponsible to spread false information and sow distrust about how our elections operate,” the Biden campaign manager, Julie Chávez Rodríguez, said this week in a statement to The New York Times.

“It’s even more dangerous coming from the owner of a social media platform,” she added.

What is angering the Biden campaign is delighting pro-Trump Republicans and others who depict the old Twitter as part of a government-controlled censorship regime that aided Mr. Biden in 2020. Under a system now in dispute at the Supreme Court, government officials alerted platforms to posts they deemed dangerous, though it was up to the companies to act or not.

“Oh, boo hoo,” Harmeet K. Dhillon, a lawyer whose firm represents Mr. Trump, said of the Democrats’ complaints. Ms. Dhillon has sued the company for suspending an election-denying client’s account after receiving a notice from the California election officials — the sort of government interplay Mr. Musk has repudiated. She noted the platform was now “a much better place for conservatives,” and said of Mr. Musk, “he’s great.”…


“Trump leans into voter fraud playbook, preparing to cry foul if he loses expected Biden rematch”


For months, Trump has been alleging that he could be the victim of fraud in November, making the same sort of explosive, groundless allegations that fueled the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and have continued to spark a wave of threats against election workers nationwide. Trump made similar allegations before the 2020 election, predicting for months there would be widespread fraud that November and contending he could only lose if the election was stolen from him.

“He’s doing it out in full view,” said David Becker of the Center for Election Innovation & Research and coauthor of “The Big Truth,” about Trump’s 2020 election lies. “If he is the Republican nominee, he has made clear that he’ll lie about an election that he’s lost.”

His continued false claims about the 2020 election have resonated with Republican voters, a majority of whom believe Biden was not legitimately elected despite all evidence to the contrary. Trump lost dozens of court challenges, his own attorney general found no evidence of widespread fraud, and reviewsaudits and recounts in the battleground states where he contested his loss all affirmed Biden’s victory.

Rachel Orey of the Bipartisan Policy Center said Trump’s preemptive allegations of fraud have become built into the nation’s political culture.

“It’s been normalized. I think what in 2020 was seen as somewhat outlandish is now an anticipated part of the process,” Orey said. “And, we see more and more candidates adopting the election denial tactics that Donald Trump is using, either as a way to thrust themselves into the national spotlight or as a way to fundraise.”

Setting the stage to blame an election loss on fraud has clear consequences, Orey said, pointing to the fact that threats and harassment against election officials after 2020 were especially severe in battleground states that Trump narrowly lost.


Trump: The Political Threats Will Stop … When You Agree With My Lies

Donald Trump warns there will be chaos if his criminal cases hurt his 2024 campaign. Democrats are already facing a wave of violent threats.

Jan. 24, 2024



“The ‘Sleeping Giant’ Case that Could Upend Jack Smith’s Prosecution of Trump”

Kimberly Wehle in Politico:

There’s been a lot of attention paid to the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Donald Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution for actions taken while president, a judgment that will have big implications for the 2024 presidential campaign and special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of the former president on charges related to Jan. 6. But there’s a sleeping giant of a case also percolating in the Supreme Court that’s even more likely than the immunity issue to impact Smith’s prosecution of Trump.

The case is Joseph W. Fischer v. United States, which the court agreed to hear in December, and which doesn’t explicitly mention Trump. At issue is whether prosecutors and the Department of Justice have been improperly using a 2002 law originally aimed at curbing financial crimes to prosecute a Jan. 6 defendant named Joseph Fischer. Should the court side with Fischer, it would also call into question the use of the law against other Jan. 6 defendants — including Trump.


Mr. Hasen is the author of several books about elections and democracy, including “A Real Right to Vote: How a Constitutional Amendment Can Safeguard American Democracy.”



The history of voting in the United States shows the high cost of living with an old Constitution, unevenly enforced by a reluctant Supreme Court.

Unlike the constitutions of many other advanced democracies, the U.S. Constitution contains no affirmative right to vote. We have nothing like Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, providing that “every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein,” or like Article 38 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, which provides that when it comes to election of the Bundestag, “any person who has attained the age of 18 shall be entitled to vote.”

As we enter yet another fraught election season, it’s easy to miss that many problems we have with voting and elections in the United States can be traced to this fundamental constitutional defect. Our problems are only going to get worse until we get constitutional change.


The Markup

A Weekly Election Legislation Update

January 16, 2024


Today is Tuesday, January 16. We are tracking 1,000 bills so far this session across 36 states, with 169 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 510 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: A judge in Ohio upheld the state’s strict photo ID requirement, while in Wisconsin a judge found that the use of mobile voting sites violates state law. Meanwhile, bills that would eliminate no-excuse mail voting and in-person early voting were introduced in Florida and Kentucky, respectively.

The Good News: A newly enacted bill will allow 17-year-olds in New Jersey to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 by the corresponding general election. The New York Senate adopted a package of bills that would require the state to join ERIC, as well as allow for mail ballot drop boxes and portable early voting locations.


“Bill would allow Georgia election investigations of Raffensperger”


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.


“Former Maryland elections official charged in January 6 case”


A member of Maryland’s Board of Elections has resigned after being charged with taking part in the mob during the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol and jabbing an officer during the melee with a flagpole.

Carlos Ayala, a 52-year-old from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, was charged with a felony and several misdemeanors this week. He’s among more than 450 Capitol riot defendants accused of resisting or obstructing police during the attack, and a handful of elections and other public officials who have faced charges for allegedly taking part.

The Maryland Board of Elections chair Michael Summers said in a statement Thursday he “accepted the immediate resignation of Carlos Ayala. The Board is committed to maintaining the security and integrity of our elections in Maryland in a non-partisan manner.”

Ayala was one of five members appointed by the governor. He had served on the board since July 2023 following unanimous approval by Maryland’s Senate, and was set to serve a four-year term, according to state records.


“Fears grow over AI’s impact on the 2024 election”

The Hill:

The rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is raising concerns about how the technology could impact next year’s election as the start of 2024 primary voting nears.

AI — advanced tech that can generate text, images and audio, and even build deepfake videos — could fuel misinformation in an already polarized political landscape and further erode voter confidence in the country’s election system.

The Only Thing More Dangerous Than Authoritarianism

The forces of Christian nationalism are now ascendant both inside the Church and inside the Republican Party.


“Documents show Republican-led states struggling to clean voter rolls after leaving ERIC”

Jen Fifield at Votebeat:

Some Republican-led states are struggling to develop new ways to adequately update their voter rolls after withdrawing from a popular cross-state voter roll cleaning program that came under attack by far-right election activists, according to new documents and internal emails reviewed by Votebeat.

Virginia paid $29,000 in September to regain access to just a sliver of the data they used to obtain via the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC. Alabama and Missouri officials took months to come up with new plans for cleaning voter rolls, landing on plans that are less rigorous than ERIC. And a new system some states are considering to help with voter roll cleanup had its server attacked and temporarily brought down, according to documents obtained by left-leaning watchdog group American Oversight and exclusively shared with Votebeat.

The documents also show that senior advisors to secretaries of state in Missouri and Texas recognized that lies were being spread about ERIC, and tried to stop their states from withdrawing from what they saw as a valuable program. In addition, officials in some states such as Ohio had pushed unsuccessfully for changes to ERIC that could have kept their states from withdrawing.

“As you know, I really worked as hard as I possibly could to avoid this,” Amanda Grandjean, then the senior advisor to the Ohio secretary of state, wrote in an email to ERIC executive director Shane Hamlin after Ohio withdrew from the program in March.

(I blogged some of my reaction to the ERIC withdrawals in March here.)

Former President Donald J. Trump and his allies are not doing much to reassure those worried about his autocratic instincts. If anything, they seem to be leaning into the predictions.

Reporting from Washington


Five Key Takeaways From Our Investigation Into Trump’s Push to Steal 2024


  1. Trump is determined to do ‘everything’ possible to win in 2024

Trump and his allies have been working since his 2020 defeat to game the system in his favor ahead of a third run at the White House. As Rawnsley and Suebsaeng write:

Trump has spent the past three years moaning to friends at his clubs, to conservative lawmakers, and to political advisers that Democrats will try to “cheat” again, and that the GOP must do “everything” it can to make sure liberals are “stopped,” according to four people familiar with this matter.

One key component of this effort, Rolling Stone reports, is making sure the government is stocked with allies, and that the Republican Party is wholly compliant. It has been, with the Republican National Committee, and the former president himself, calling for supporters to descend on polling places to “watch” for any suspicious activity. Republicans in several states have also been cracking down on mail-in ballots, which generally are used more by Democratic voters.

It’s all part of an effort to “hit the Democrats on all sides,” as a person close to Trump describes his thinking to Rolling Stone.

     2. Trump is already auditioning lawyers to challenge the 2024 election

Trump’s crack team of election attorneys after the 2020 election included since-indicted Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis. A person close to Trump tells Rolling Stone says he is intent on assembling a “better, smarter legal team,” and that the former president has already been “auditioning” conservative lawyers who could help him challenge the 2024 results, including through post-election audits of mail-in ballots.

Cleta Mitchell — who was on the January, 2021 call on which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes he needed to surpass Biden in the state — is a major player in Trump’s effort to tilt the scales in his direction in 2024. He’s touted her as “very important” to his election efforts as recently as September. Trump’s praise for Mitchell isn’t surprising considering her devotion to the lie that he won in 2020. She’s doing whatever she can to make sure he returns to the White House, with one Trump attorney describing her to Rolling Stone as “too militant, even for me.”

     3. Team Trump has a vendetta against an election integrity organization used by both parties

Trump and his allies, including Cleta Mitchell, have been working to stop states from using data provided by Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to spot voting irregularities and identify unregistered voters. Thirty-three Republican and Democratic states did so, but nine GOP-led states have ditched the data in the past two years — thanks in part to conspiracy theories that it is part of the nonexistent Democratic election-rigging apparatus. Trump wrote on Truth Social in March that Republican governors should “immediately pull out of ERIC,” describing it as a “terrible voter registration system that ‘pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up.”

     4. It’s bad news if states stop using data from that organization, ERIC

“ERIC is quite possibly the most valuable, useful tool that we have to strengthen election integrity,” Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt, a Republican, tells Rolling Stone.

The states Trump’s team have convinced to stop using ERIC have found themselves deprived of accurate voter data, which is not good. “The data is going to be garbage and potentially result in voters being disenfranchised,” Schmidt says. “You cannot just use, for example, name and birthday to go about taking steps to remove a voter. That will result in a terrific number of false matches.”

David Becker, one of ERIC’s founders who left the organization this year amid right-wing pressure, notes that inaccurate voter lists will create long lines on Election Day, mail-in voting issues, and general delays in determining a winner of the election. “The bigger potential damage here is that election losers — people who have lost an election or perceive themselves to be about to lose an election — will have more time and more space to create false narratives about an election being stolen,” Becker tells Rolling Stone.

    5. Trump’s allies are trying to promote a MAGA version of the ERIC

Trump allies have developed EagleAI, a new tool to fill the void in the states that have ditched ERIC. It uses problematic data, however, like property-tax records, which exclude anyone living in apartments. Schmidt, Pennsylvania’s Republican Secretary of the Commonwealth, calls it “totally unreliable.”

Schmidt adds that it would likely result in “a terrific number of challenges to voters who are registered and eligible.” This could wind up overwhelming already-overwhelmed election officials with countless challenges eligibility sort, as well as potential litigation. It’s another way for Trump’s team to muddy the waters and cast doubt on election integrity.

EagleAI claims that “hundreds of individuals and county election offices in 23 states” have shown interest in using it.


“Inside Trump’s Plot To Corrupt the 2024 Election With ‘Garbage’ Data”

Rolling Stone:

As recently as this summer, Trump had talked to right-leaning legal counselors about the feasibility of laying the groundwork for various post-election “audits” of mailed ballots — inspired partly by a shambolic Arizona audit following the 2020 election — in parts of the United States that have historical track records of so-called problems, two sources present for these casual discussions recall.

There are few people more central to Trump’s plans than Cleta Mitchell, the lawyer pushing the secretaries of state to pull out of ERIC at that D.C. meeting. As recently as September, Trump privately praised Mitchell’s work, saying she is going to be “very important” for the next election and beyond.


Updated Democracy Crisis in the Making Report

From States United, Protect Democracy and Law Forward:

As the 2024 election approaches, state legislatures continue to propose and enact laws that expose our election system to partisan disruption and manipulation. These laws ultimately increase the risk of subversion — that is, a declared outcome that does not reflect the true choice of the voters. They also abandon long-standing principles of nonpartisan election administration and instead allow for — or even encourage — dysfunction, misinformation, confusion, or manipulation by partisan actors.

Our organizations have been tracking this trend for three years, since the 2020 election. In that time, state legislatures have introduced more than 600 of these bills, and 62 have become law in 28 states. As we noted in our Report earlier this year, the 2022 elections were largely successful and free of serious subversion efforts. But we remain concerned that recently enacted laws could help precipitate a crisis — particularly in an election involving a candidate at the top of the ticket who has already attempted to subvert an election. At the very least, these laws will make it harder for professional election administrators, who already face a rise in unjustified suspicion and unprecedented levels of harassment, to do their jobs on behalf of our democracy.

This year-end update to our June 2023 Report reviews some of the major developments that we have seen this year. Some states warrant particular attention. In North Carolina, a legislative supermajority has engineered a host of changes in election oversight that could open the door to partisan interference, confusion at the polls, gridlock during the certification process, or doubt about the results, in addition to disinformation at each of those steps. In Texas, two laws enacted this year targeted the state’s most populous and diverse county, abolishing the county election office and empowering the state to take control over election procedures under flimsy pretexts and with partisan motives. In Wisconsin, some legislators, relying in part on baseless conspiracy theories, have repeatedly sought to remove the state’s top nonpartisan election official, so far without success….

A deluge of violent messages: How a surge in threats to public officials could disrupt American democracy

Voting experts warn of ‘serious threats’ for 2024 from election equipment software breaches


ATLANTA (AP) — An effort to access voting system software in several states and provide it to allies of former President Donald Trump as they sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election has raised “serious threats” ahead of next year’s presidential contest, according to a group of experts who urged federal agencies to investigate.

The letter sent by nearly two dozen computer scientists, election security experts and voter advocacy organizations asks for a federal probe and a risk assessment of voting machines used throughout the country, saying the software breaches have “urgent implications for the 2024 election and beyond.” The breaches affected voting equipment made by two companies that together count over 70% of the votes cast across the country, according to the letter.

“The multistate effort to unlawfully obtain copies of voting system software poses serious threats to election security and national security and constitutes a potential criminal conspiracy of enormous consequences,” the group wrote in a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, special counsel Jack Smith, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “We must protect our most sacred tenet of democracy — the security of our vote.”


A Warning

America survived the first Trump term, though not without sustaining serious damage. A second term, if there is one, will be much worse.




If reelected, he could use the powers of the presidency to evade justice and punish his enemies.



A Warning

America survived the first Trump term, though not without sustaining serious damage. A second term, if there is one, will be much worse.


Donald Trump has long exhibited authoritarian impulses, but his policy operation is now more sophisticated, and the buffers to check him are weaker.


“In win for Cooper and Democrats, NC judges block GOP-backed elections law ahead of 2024”


A panel of judges on Thursday granted Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to block a new elections law before voters head to the polls in 2024.

The ruling from the three judges — two Republicans and one Democrat — was unanimous. They ruled that the law, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last month, is likely an unconstitutional power grab. It’s just a temporary ruling pending a full trial, likely to be held in early 2024….

In addition to changing who has the power to appoint election board members, the law would also make the board have an even number of seats for both parties, instead of giving a majority to whichever party holds the governor’s office.

Republicans have said that’s needed to improve election integrity. But critics, who include Democrats as well as professional election workers and experts, say it would lead to chaos in elections administration — and possibly even spell the end of early voting and other political issues that would presumably result in tie votes and inaction….

On Cooper’s challenge to SB 749, Republican lawmakers have acknowledged that the previous law it’s based on was ruled unconstitutional.

A similar change to the elections board was also later shot down by voters when proposed as a constitutional amendment in 2018, after every living governor — Democratic and Republican — publicly campaigned against it, as well as another similar amendment proposal, as overreaching power grabs.

A lawyer for the state government agreed with Cooper in court Thursday. Senior Deputy Attorney General Amar Majmundar said blocking it from taking effect would be “not just appropriate, but necessary.”

But legislative leaders have said that since the GOP flipped control of the North Carolina Supreme Court in last year’s elections, they believe they have a better chance of winning in court this time and getting the past precedent overturned.


A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.



But wait until Trump returns to power and the price of opposing him becomes persecution, the loss of property and possibly the loss of freedom. Will those who balked at resisting Trump when the risk was merely political oblivion suddenly discover their courage when the cost might be the ruin of oneself and one’s family?

We are closer to that point today than we have ever been, yet we continue to drift toward dictatorship, still hoping for some intervention that will allow us to escape the consequences of our collective cowardice, our complacent, willful ignorance and, above all, our lack of any deep commitment to liberal democracy. As the man said, we are going out not with a bang but a whimper.


Trump signals he’s out for revenge in second term



“Why the fight to counter false election claims may be harder in 2024”



The Key to Mike Johnson’s Christian Extremism Hangs Outside His Office

The newly elected House speaker has ties to the far-right New Apostolic Reformation — which is hell-bent on turning America into a religious state

“A lot of Americans embrace Trump’s authoritarianism”

Philip Bump:

CNN’s most recent polling, conducted by SSRS, shows that Trump leads Biden nationally by a 4-point margin, statistically even. Even given Trump’s response to the 2020 election, though, and the myriad criminal charges he faces, respondents were five points more likely to say they would be proud to have him as president then said the same of Biden.

CNN’s poll also asked people to measure Biden and Trump on personal characteristics. Most respondents said that they thought Biden had respect for the rule of law; only about a third said the same of Trump.

But remember: 49 percent of respondents prefer Trump over Biden. Meaning that at least 14 percent of respondents both think that Trump doesn’t respect the rule of law and want him to be president.


“Election offices are sent envelopes with fentanyl or other substances. Authorities are investigating”


Authorities were hunting Thursday for whoever sent suspicious letters — including some containing fentanyl — to elections offices in at least five states this week, delaying the counting of ballots in some local races in the latest instance of threats faced by election workers around the country.

The letters were sent to elections offices in the presidential battlegrounds of Georgia and Nevada, as well as California, Oregon and Washington, with some being intercepted before they arrived. Four of the letters contained fentanyl, the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service reported in a statement to elections officials Thursday.

“Law enforcement is working diligently to intercept any additional letters before they are delivered,” the statement said.

The Pierce County auditor’s office in Tacoma, Washington, released images of the letter it received, showing it had been postmarked in Portland, Oregon, and read in part: “End elections now.”…

Among the offices that appeared to be targeted was Fulton County in Georgia, which includes Atlanta and is the largest voting jurisdiction in one of the nation’s most important presidential swing states. Authorities were working to intercept the letter. In the meantime, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said officials were sending the overdose-reversal drug naloxone to the office as a precaution.

“This is domestic terrorism, and it needs to be condemned by anyone that holds elected office and anyone that wants to hold elective office anywhere in America,” said Raffensperger, a Republican.


Wisconsin: “Trump pressures Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to impeach elections chief Meagan Wolfe”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:


Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second term

Advisers have also discussed deploying the military to quell potential unrest on Inauguration Day. Critics have called the ideas under consideration dangerous and unconstitutional.


Politically appointed lawyers sometimes frustrated Donald J. Trump’s ambitions. His allies are planning to install more aggressive legal gatekeepers if he regains the White House.



Close allies of Donald J. Trump are preparing to populate a new administration with a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term.

The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others.

Now, as Trump allies grow more confident in an election victory next fall, several outside groups, staffed by former Trump officials who are expected to serve in senior roles if he wins, have begun parallel personnel efforts. At the start of Mr. Trump’s term, his administration relied on the influential Federalist Society, the conservative legal network whose members filled key executive branch legal roles and whose leader helped select his judicial nominations. But in a striking shift, Trump allies are building new recruiting pipelines separate from the Federalist Society.

These back-room discussions were described by seven people with knowledge of the planning, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. In addition, The New York Times interviewed former senior lawyers in the Trump administration and other allies who have remained close to the former president and are likely to serve in a second term.


Trump’s violent rhetoric echoes the fascist commitment to a destructive and bloody rebirth of society



The year to date: “14 states have enacted laws making it harder to vote, while 23 states have enacted laws making it easier.”

Voting Laws Roundup: October 2023, published by the Brennan Center, offers an overview of the trends in election law around the country. There is good news, including:

  1. “Nearly half of all states enacted at least one expansive voting law this year.”
  2. “At least four of those states — Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and New Mexico — enacted multiple expansive voting laws or an omnibus pro-voter law in 2023.”

And there is bad news, including:

  1. 14 states have adopted restrictive laws.
  2. North Carolina legislature has passed a law restricting voting access and another “undermin[ing] election administration.”


“Republican states swore off a voting tool. Now they’re scrambling to recreate it”

NPR: Misinformation about a bipartisan, cross-state partnership known as the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, pushed several Republican legislatures to back out of it in recent months. But now, these same legislatures are scrambling to create systems to serve the same function. ERIC, however, took years to develop and relies on confidential DMV information, which is much the most accurate way to confirm that individuals with the same names in different jurisdictions are in fact the same individuals.

“These states are recreating a portion of ERIC, just with less data and less reliable information.”


The Markup

A Weekly Election Legislation Update
October 16, 2023

Looking Ahead: Members of Congress called for an investigation into Virginia’s improper removal of hundreds of voters from the state’s rolls. A new North Carolina law faces a legal challenge, and a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s voter ID law moved forward.

Trump as Jesus? Why he casts himself as a martyr, and why fans go along.

The former president has been saying for decades that he’s a victim and portrayed himself as a martyr. But Trump’s messianic rhetoric is mainly about feeling sorry for himself, analysts say.



“To protect his incredibly fragile ego, he needs to create this victimization,” said Cohen. “The problem can’t be him, so who else can it be? That’s where the martyrdom comes in: He has to shift the blame on someone else, and then he can say, ‘The only one standing in between them and you is me.’”

With each new charge, Trump sent out fundraising letters in which he presented himself as a perpetual victim of the authorities’ attacks. “[N]o matter what our sick and deranged political establishment throws at me, no matter what they do to me, I will endure their torment and oppression, and I will do it willingly,” he said in a fundraising appeal last fall. “Our cruel and vindictive political class is not just coming after me — they are coming after YOU.”

When Trump was arraigned in New York in April, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a Trump acolyte, said he was “joining some of the most incredible people in history” who “have been arrested and persecuted by radical corrupt governments …, including Nelson Mandela and Jesus.”

[Boldface added]


Inspired in part by Donald Trump’s baseless rigged-election claims, the activists are trying to recruit supporters to serve as poll watchers and election workers in the state’s legislative contests. 

 The state is a month away from tossup elections that will decide control of the state’s closely divided legislature.



In 2021, after Republican victories in Virginia, conservative activists were so proud of their work training poll watchers, recruiting election workers and making other attempts to subtly influence the voting system that they wrote a memo called “The Virginia Model.” The memo detailed ways that other states could follow Virginia’s lead in protecting so-called election integrity.

Now these activists are turning their attention back to Virginia, which is a month away from tossup elections that will decide control of the state’s closely divided legislature and offer both national parties clear evidence of their electoral strengths and weaknesses heading into 2024.


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


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.


“Impeachments and forced removals from office emerge as partisan weapons in the states”

Republicans in Wisconsin are threatening to impeach a recently elected state Supreme Court justice and raised the possibility of doing the same to the state’s election director.

A Georgia Republican called for impeaching the Fulton County prosecutor who brought racketeering charges against former President Donald Trump. Republicans in the Pennsylvania House have already impeached the top prosecutor in Philadelphia.

None of the targets met the bar traditionally set for impeachment — credible allegations of committing a crime while in office. Their offense: staking out positions legislative Republicans didn’t like.

As Republicans in Congress begin their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, the process is calling attention to the increasing use of impeachment in the states as a partisan political weapon rather than as a step of last resort for officeholders believed to have committed a serious offense.

It’s not just impeachment. Over the past two years, Republicans also have sought to pry Democrats and nonpartisan executives from office through recalls, legislative maneuvers and forced removals, even when no allegations of wrongdoing have surfaced.

To some, the moves appear anti-democratic — actions that could have major implications if they become routine and supplant the ballot box as the final arbiter of an election.



Voting Rights Lab
The Markup
A Weekly Election Legislation Update
October 10, 2023

Today is Tuesday, October 10. We are tracking 1,915 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 404 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 908 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: Earlier today, the North Carolina legislature overrode Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes of S.B. 747 (restricting mail voting) and S.B. 749 (legislative takeover of state and county election boards). The legislature also enacted a budget bill that prohibits the state from joining ERIC.

The Good News: The Michigan House passed legislation to expand automatic voter registration in the state.

Looking Ahead: Last week, two new lawsuits were filed, challenging voting restrictions in North Carolina and Wisconsin.


Brennan Center for Justice

September 28, 2023

There is a trial underway in Texas that has big implications for the future of voting rights.

The case is LUPE v. State of Texas. It deals with the big, comprehensive voter suppression law passed by the Texas legislature several years back: Senate Bill 1. It intentionally discriminates against Black and Latino voters. It imposes new burdens on mail voting, makes it more difficult for voters who have limited English proficiency or disabilities to receive assistance with voting, takes aim at community and faith-based groups by criminalizing nonpartisan voter turnout activities as “vote harvesting,” and puts poll workers at risk of criminal prosecution if they act to stop partisan poll watchers from harassing voters.

We at the Brennan Center, working with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), are among the attorneys representing voters and officials challenging the scheme.

During the trial’s first week, there was a parade of witnesses testifying to the law’s real-world effects on voters and election officials. A former county clerk said of one provision, “I thought it criminalized a very innocent process that helped often our most vulnerable voters.” A longtime poll worker said of the law, “As long as it’s in effect, I’ll never serve again.” And another testified that he would hesitate to recommend that anyone serve because of the risk of prosecution.

S.B. 1’s rules concerning poll watchers create a culture of fear, confusion, and potential chaos at polling places. One county election administrator told the court, “We had tons of complaints that poll watchers were intrusive, and voters felt intimidated because the poll watcher would come and stand behind them as they are voting. . . . It was disturbing.” Another administrator observed that election workers were afraid of being prosecuted for performing their duties of maintaining order at the polling place and protecting voters from intimidation and violence.

In one exchange, a county clerk described the problem of voter fraud as a “unicorn,” because fraud affects at most “ones and twos out of millions of votes, and in most cases [is] unintentional.”

Showing a shaky grasp of mammalian zoology, a lawyer for the state of Texas replied, “Even though voter fraud is a unicorn, we still have to be vigilant.” The preposterous exchange highlighted the flimsiness of the state’s justifications for voter suppression laws.

In the trial’s first few weeks, the court and the nation have learned what voter suppression is truly about — and it has nothing to do with preventing phantom voter fraud. In enacting S.B. 1, Texas set out to keep certain people from voting, and it’s working. In the first election after the law’s enactment, a single provision of the law caused tens of thousands of mail ballot applications and mail ballots to be discarded, and those rejections disproportionately affected voters of color. The law is a reminder of the United States’ basest impulses. It demonstrates the need for strengthened federal protections of the franchise so that all people can participate in our democracy on equal terms.


Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks

An escalating campaign, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans, has cast a pall over programs that study political disinformation and the quality of medical information online



“Judge overseeing case to remove Trump from ballot agrees to order banning threats and intimidation”


The Colorado judge overseeing the first significant lawsuit to bar former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 presidential ballot on Friday issued a protective order prohibiting threats and intimidation in the case, saying the safety of those involved — including herself and her staff — was necessary as the groundbreaking litigation moves forward.

“I 100% understand everybody’s concerns for the parties, the lawyers, and frankly myself and my staff based on what we’ve seen in other cases,” District Judge Sarah B. Wallace said as she agreed to the protective order.

The order prohibits parties in the case from making threatening or intimidating statements. Scott Gessler, a former Colorado secretary of state representing Trump in the case, opposed it. He said a protective order was unnecessary because threats and intimidation already are prohibited by law.


“‘Where’s Celia?’ An Arizona elections official becomes the target of a virtual manhunt by GOP activists on a public records crusade.”

Jen Fifield for Votebeat:

They started searching for her in late January.

“Where’s CELIA NABOR?” one member of the angry online mob wrote. “Find her,” another wrote. Track her phone, credit cards, social security number, and social media, others suggested. It was time for her to “face the music.” “COULD SHE BE AT HOME????” someone wrote, posting her address. 

And then, that same night, after 2 a.m., someone started banging on Celia Nabor’s door. 

She lay frozen in bed in her suburban Phoenix neighborhood, terrified, wondering if one of her online harassers had come to follow through on the threats. Then, as abruptly as it had begun, the pounding stopped. 

Nabor never found out who knocked on her door that night. What she did know was that the trouble had started earlier that week. On Jan. 30, GOP activists began spreading false information about her, based partly on documents acquired through records requests searching for fraud in Maricopa County’s elections, where Nabor helped oversee early voting.

They said Nabor was dodging a request to answer questions, prompting others to claim she had helped the county steal the election for Democrats. But that wasn’t true.

We The People AZ Alliance — a Phoenix-based political action committee funded primarily by Patrick Byrne and his organization The America Project — employed what’s become a familiar playbook among allies of former President Donald Trump: Barrage local election offices with public records requests, then twist real records to make routine actions seem suspicious. 

The organization dug into Nabor’s work, asking for copies of all of her texts and her emails. They asked for information on how she and the employees under her performed their jobs and whether they were disciplined. They wanted protocols and contractor names and contracts and more. 

Extensive requests such as these are a complex piece of the ballooning number of public records requests to election offices across the country, according to Votebeat’s review of hundreds of public records requests and logs. 


“Houston-area elections office dismantled as contentious Texas law takes effect”


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.

“An Iowa County Just Stopped An Election Denier from Overseeing 2024 Election”

Bolts reports.

In court, Trump supporter faces election official he violently threatened


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.


Trump attorneys guided false electors in Georgia, GOP chair says

In Tuesday’s filing, Shafer underscored that the strategy was driven almost entirely by lawyers acting on Trump’s behalf.  The false electors were later used by Trump allies to attempt to foment a conflict on Jan. 6, 2021 and derail the transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

Shafer is among the 18 defendants indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, alongside Trump as part of a conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election.


“Trump praises Jan. 6 crowd, repeats election lies in online interview while skipping GOP debate”


In the most inflammatory exchange, Trump seemed to indulge a suggestion from Carlson that Trump’s political opponents might try to end his life.

“They’re savage animals. They are people that are sick. Really sick. You have great people in the Democrat Party, you have great people that are Democrats,” Trump said. “But I’ve seen what they do, I’ve seen the lengths that they go to.”

The incendiary comment comes as Trump has venerated those charged with crimes for the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol and downplayed the violence that day. He repeated his praise in the interview.

“People in that crowd said it was the most beautiful day they’ve ever experienced. There was love in that crowd. There was love and unity,” Trump said of the supporters he addressed on the morning of Jan. 6, before they marched to the Capitol.

“I have never seen such spirit and such passion and such love. And I’ve also never seen, simultaneously, and from the same people, such hatred of what they’ve done to our country.”

The night before the interview was posted, Trump spoke at a fundraiser hosted at his New Jersey golf club for the Patriot Freedom Project, which supports the defendants charged for their roles in the insurrection.

FBI joins investigation of threats to grand jurors in Trump Georgia case



American democracy is cracking. These forces help explain why.

Behind the sense that the political system is broken lies a collision between forces both old and new



Inside the right’s effort to build a voter fraud hunting tool

Experts warn that EagleAI, a database that helps voters examine the voter rolls themselves, could drown election workers in unreliable reports of ineligible voters.



“G.O.P. Contenders Feed Voter Distrust in Courts, Schools and Military”


Ron DeSantis says the military is more interested in global warming and “gender ideology” initiatives than in national security.

Tim Scott says the Justice Department “continues to hunt Republicans.”

Vivek Ramaswamy has vowed to “shut down the deep state,” borrowing former President Donald J. Trump’s conspiratorial shorthand for a federal bureaucracy he views as hostile.

As Mr. Trump escalates his attacks on American institutions, focusing his fire on the Justice Department as he faces new criminal charges, his competitors for the Republican nomination have followed his lead.

Several have adopted much of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric sowing broad suspicion about the courts, the F.B.I., the military and schools. As they vie for support in a primary dominated by Mr. Trump, they routinely blast these targets in ways that might have been considered extraordinary, not to mention unthinkably bad politics, just a few years ago.

Yet there is little doubt about the political incentives behind the statements. Polls show that Americans’ trust in their institutions has fallen to historical lows, with Republicans exhibiting more doubt across a broad swath of public life.

The proliferation of attacks has alarmed both Republicans and Democrats who worry about the long-term impact on American democracy. Public confidence in core institutions — from the justice system to voting systems — is fundamental to a durable democracy, particularly at a time of sharp political division.

A New Kind of Fascism

I’ve resisted using the word until now, but something menacing and novel is taking shape with the possibility of a second Trump term.

JULY 25, 2023



Close to 100,000 Voter Registrations Were Challenged in Georgia — Almost All by Just Six Right-Wing Activists



“A Pair of Election Deniers Are Running To Take Over Election Offices In Washington”


Robert Sutherland and Doug Basler have a lot in common.

The two Republicans have spent the better part of the past three years sowing doubt about Washington state’s election system, filing frivolous lawsuits that questioned the mail ballot system, and running (and losing) races for office.

And now, they’re both running against avowedly nonpartisan, experienced election administrators in an attempt to take control of two of their state’s largest county election offices.

“Elections director who helped copy Georgia data given similar job”


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.


“North Dakota election official challenges mail ballot counting law in Trump-aligned group’s lawsuit”


A North Dakota county election official is suing the state’s election director to block the counting of mail-in ballots received after Election Day in a lawsuit filed by a conservative group that also brought lawsuits amid former President Donald Trump‘s false claims of election fraud in 2020.

An election law expert says the Public Interest Legal Foundation appeared to be “court-shopping” for a conservative circuit with its case, which seeks an injunction against the election director for enforcing the state’s laws.

Burleigh County Auditor Mark Splonskowski, who was elected last fall, alleges he “is harmed by instructions to accept and cast ballots received after Election Day,” and that “because federal and state law conflict on the day the ballots must be turned in, he faces an impossibility in enforcing the law,” according to a complaint filed Wednesday in federal court.

“Despite federal law assigning one day as Election Day, North Dakota law allows ballots to arrive and be counted up to 13 days after Election Day,” the complaint states….

University of California Los Angeles law professor and election law expert Rick Hasen in an interview said the lawsuit is “kind of a roundabout way of attacking not having full results on Election Day, so it very much ties into Trump’s unsupported claims about the (2020) election.”


Louisiana Argues that the District Court Considering Voting Rights Challenge to Louisiana Congressional Redistricting Should Consider if Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is No Longer Constitutional

Yup, there it is (via Hansi Lo Wang):

[The Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision in] SFFA has considerably altered the landscape of cases, such as this one, that involve state action requiring racial classifications. 2023 WL 4239254, at *12 (“Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”). Indeed, the SFFA Court made clear that as statutes requiring race-based classification achieve their intended ends, they will necessarily become obsolete. See id. at *14–21 (explaining that Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306 (2003), “made clear that race-based admissions programs eventually had to end” and that the instant facts demonstrated that the time had come). And we have seen similarly once-permissible racial classifications be held unconstitutional when the facts justifying their existence were no more—specifically in the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) context. See Shelby Cnty. v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529, 557 (2013) (holding part of the VRA unconstitutional because “[o]ur country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions”). Consequently, the district court should be permitted to address, in the first instance, whether the facts on the ground here similarly warrant a rejection of Section 2 of the VRA, as applied, because it is no longer necessary. See id. at 536 (“[C]urrent burdens . . . must be justified by current needs.” (quoting Nw. Austin Mun. Util. Dist. No. One v. Holder, 557 U.S. 193, 203 (2009))).

Notably, this temporal argument was acknowledged by members of the Milligan Court but, because it was not properly raised, the Court did not consider it. 143 S. Ct. at 1519 (Kavanaugh, J., concurring) (“Justice Thomas notes, however, that even if Congress in 1982 could constitutionally authorize race-based redistricting under §2 for some period of time, the authority to conduct race-based redistricting cannot extend indefinitely into the future. See post, at 1543–1544 (dissenting opinion). But Alabama did not raise that temporal argument in this Court, and I therefore would not consider it at this time.”). Indeed, eight Justices in Milligan appeared to conclude that the first Gingles precondition cannot be satisfied where race is the predominant factor in the creation of an illustrative comparator. See 143 S. Ct. at 1510–12; id. at 1527 (Thomas, J., dissenting). That predominance test is essential to mitigate the problem of race-based classifications identified in SFFA, and the district court should address the interplay of these decisions, as applied to this case, in the first instance on remand.

As I wrote recently at Slate:

The first attack is a separate constitutional one from the one that failed in Milligan. In Roberts’ Milligan majority opinion, the court upheld Section 2’s constitutionality against Alabama’s claim that Congress only has the power to ban intentional discrimination, not just those voting laws with discriminatory effects. Citing earlier precedents, the court concluded that Congress had the power through the 15th Amendment to dismantle laws with racially discriminatory effects as well.

Despite that holding, Justice Kavanaugh, writing separately, left the door open for a future constitutional challenge. Kavanaugh described that argument, raised by Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissent, that “even if Congress in 1982 could constitutionally authorize race-based redistricting under §2 for some period of time, the authority to conduct race-based redistricting cannot extend indefinitely into the future.” Kavanaugh wouldn’t reach the question in his separate opinion, but left it open: “Alabama did not raise that temporal argument in this Court, and I therefore would not consider it at this time.”

This argument that a law once constitutional is no longer so because of the passage of time echoes the court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, reaching the same conclusion about a different part of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5. As voting rights expert Ellen Katz opined on my site, the Election Law Blog, “Justice Kavanaugh said he was declining to consider this argument ‘at this time’ because Alabama had failed to press it. But the invitation was, of course, clear: bring this claim and the Allen dissenters might just have a majority in the next case. In other words, stay tuned.”

Would Kavanaugh (or even Roberts) switch back again and pull a Shelby County in a few years? It is hard to say, but Roberts at least offered a surprisingly full-throated endorsement of current Section 2 jurisprudence, and having pronounced Section 2 constitutional without alluding to or even citing the argument in Shelby County that the passage of time could render the law now unconstitutional, it seems hard to imagine him reversing course so soon. What Kavanaugh might do should such an opportunity arise is a separate question, of course.


In a court filing, John Kelly, who was a chief of staff under Donald Trump, said the former president had asked about having the tax agency look into Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.


John F. Kelly, who served as former President Donald J. Trump’s second White House chief of staff, said in a sworn statement that Mr. Trump had discussed having the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies investigate two F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.



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


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.”

House Republicans voted to censure Schiff

The vote — 213-209-6 — is the culmination of a week-long push led by Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), which was stymied last week when a band of Republicans joined Democrats in blocking a censure resolution from coming to the floor for a vote. It advanced on Wednesday after Luna made changes to the measure.

It also marked the apex of Republicans’ years-long campaign against Schiff, who emerged as a bogeyman on the right for his unrelenting criticism of Trump’s alleged ties with Russia, and was cemented as a chief GOP adversary on Capitol Hill when he led the first impeachment inquiry targeting Trump.

“Today, I wear this partisan vote as a badge of honor,” Schiff said Wednesday. “Knowing that I have lived my oath. Knowing that I have done my duty, to hold a dangerous and out of control president accountable. And knowing that I would do so again — in a heartbeat — if the circumstances should ever require it.”

“The American people do not trust Congress. The cyclical pattern of lies has worn down the credibility of every institution and every official in the United States government. You see it, I see it,” Luna said on the House floor during debate Wednesday.


“Voting rights advocates sue in federal court over NC’s felony disenfranchisement”

NC Newsline (via Electionline). “The Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional on Fourteenth Amendment grounds.” The suit cites the specific history of law, dating back to 1877 as a part of the racially discriminatory rollback of voting rights granted during Reconstruction.


How the Far Right Tore Apart One of the Best Tools to Fight Voter Fraud”

NPR on the exodus of red states from ERIC.

And a deeper look at the red-state exodus that followed — eight states and counting have now pulled out of ERIC — shows a policy blueprint for an election denial movement, spearheaded by a key Trump ally, eager to change virtually every aspect of how Americans vote. . . .


“Scoop: YouTube reverses misinformation policy to allow U.S. election denialism”


In a reversal of its election integrity policy, YouTube will leave up content that says fraud, errors or glitches occurred in the 2020 presidential election and other U.S. elections, the company confirmed to Axios Friday.

Why it matters: YouTube established the policy in December 2020, after enough states had certified the 2020 election results. Now, the company said in a statement, leaving the policy in place may have the effect of “curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm.”

  • “Two years, tens of thousands of video removals, and one election cycle later, we recognized it was time to reevaluate the effects of this policy in today’s changed landscape,” YouTube said in a statement.
  • “With that in mind, and with 2024 campaigns well underway, we will stop removing content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past US Presidential elections.”

Yes, but: Asked how YouTube was specifically able to make that determination, a spokesperson pointed Axios to their statement.

  • YouTube said that it “carefully deliberated this change,” but didn’t provide further examples of what factors or instances it considered when weighing its decision.
  • The platform said it will provide more details about its approach to the 2024 election in the months to come.


“Texas AG Says Trump Would’ve ‘Lost’ State If It Hadn’t Blocked Mail-in Ballots Applications Being Sent Out”

From Newsweek:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said former President Donald Trump would have lost in Texas in the 2020 election if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters.

Harris County, home to the city of Houston, wanted to mail out applications for mail-in ballots to its approximately 2.4 million registered voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conservative Texas Supreme Court blocked the county from doing so after it faced litigation from Paxton’s office.

“If we’d lost Harris County—Trump won by 620,000 votes in Texas. Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million, those were all illegal and we were able to stop every one of them,” Paxton told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon during the latter’s War Room podcast on Friday.


“After harassment, Arizona county official won’t run for reelection”

A sad story that exemplifies what’s been happening with election administrators in several areas around the country. From the WP:

After facing an onslaught of harassment and violent threats for certifying the results of the 2020 election, a Republican on the governing board of Arizona’s largest county will not seek reelection during the 2024 cycle.

Bill Gates, a longtime conservative and Harvard-educated attorney, told The Washington Post that he intends to serve his term through the end of 2024 and carry out the election-related duties that come with it. In an interview and prepared statement, he said he was proud of his time in office and thanked county workers….

Gates’s decision also adds a high-profile name to the exodus of local election officers across the nation who have left their posts or have passed on reelection campaigns amid attacks….

As he helps the county prepare for another election, Gates wants stronger protections for election officials and more federal funding to help them recruit and train poll workers, bolster cybersecurity measures, install security cameras and more. He is joining a bipartisan group of election workers in D.C. next week to urge the White House, members of Congress, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to advocate for the funding and protections as part of an effort by Issue One, an organization that advocates for issues of democracy and more regulation of money in politics.

Letters from an American, Heather Cox RichardsonMay 24, 2023https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/The Department of Homeland Security today issued a bulletin warning, “Lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances continue to pose a persistent and lethal threat to the Homeland.” Both domestic extremists and foreign terrorists are using online extremist messaging and calls for violence to motivate supporters to launch attacks. Individuals upset about the 2024 election and new laws or court decisions might attack “US critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, individuals or events associated with the LGBTQIA+ community, schools, racial and ethnic minorities, and government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement.” The advisory is in force for six months.The announcement warned that a key factor in potential violence is “perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle,” a reference to disinformation suggesting that U.S. elections are rigged. This false allegation is a staple of former president Trump’s political messaging.That disinformation led to the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, of course, although many of those who have stood trial for participating in that attack have expressed regret—at least in front of the judge. But not all of them. Today Judge Christopher Cooper noted that Richard “Bigo” Barnett had “not shown any acceptance of responsibility” for his actions before sentencing him to four and a half years in prison. Barnett is an Arkansas man who was convicted on eight counts for his participation in the attack, during which he was famously photographed with his foot on then–House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

Russia’s Latest Sanctions on U.S. Officials Turn to Trump Enemies

Among the 500 people singled out for travel and financial restrictions were Americans seen as adversaries by former President Donald J. Trump.

Russia has expanded its list of sanctioned Americans in a tit-for-tat retaliation for the latest curbs imposed by the United States. But what is particularly striking is how much President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is adopting perceived enemies of former President Donald J. Trump as his own.

Among the 500 people singled out for travel and financial restrictions on Friday were Americans seen as adversaries by Mr. Trump, including Letitia James, the state attorney general of New York who has sued him for alleged fraud, and Jack Smith, the Justice Department special counsel investigating his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents after leaving office.

Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state of Georgia who rebuffed Mr. Trump’s pressure to “find” enough votes to reverse the outcome of the election, also made the list. So did Lt. Michael Byrd, the Capitol Police officer who shot the pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6, 2021.

None of them has anything to do with Russia policy, and the only evident reason they would have come to Moscow’s attention is because Mr. Trump has publicly assailed them. The Russian Foreign Ministry offered no specific explanation for why they would be included on the list but did say that among its targets were “those in government and law enforcement agencies who are directly involved in the persecution of dissidents in the wake of the so-called storming of the Capitol.”

As recently as this month, Mr. Trump has tried to rewrite the history of that day and has dangled pardons for convicted rioters if he is elected to a second term. He also refused to commit to supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia if he is elected president again, saying instead he would seek to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow.

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



“False claims of a stolen election thrive unchecked on Twitter even as Musk promises otherwise”

AP reports.

May 16, 2023

From Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen:

. . . with Big Tech rapidly, and recklessly, developing ever more powerful artificial intelligence technology — it could soon be impossible, even for experts, to distinguish so-called “deepfakes” from audio and video recordings that are real.

And there is currently no federal law that would outright stop political candidates, parties, or committees from using deep fakes and artificial intelligence to willfully deceive voters.

Artificial intelligence poses a significant threat to truth and democracy as we know it.

That’s not science fiction.

It’s not paranoia.

It’s the hard reality of the world we live in now.

Also, the First Amendment is no defense. Using A.I. to mislead or defraud voters goes far beyond protections for political expression, opinion, or satire. Forget about yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater — this could burn down our very democracy.

Public Citizen is formally calling on the Democratic Party and the Republican Party not to use artificial intelligence or deep fake technology to mislead or defraud the electorate.

Join Public Citizen in calling on the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee to:

1. Commit immediately not to use deepfake technology to deceive voters.

2. Pledge that no candidate affiliated with your party will use deepfake technology to deceive voters.

3. Urge all independent committees equally to pledge not to use deepfake technology to deceive voters.

4. Call for rapid passage of legislation making it illegal to use deepfake technology to deceive voters.

Click now to add your name.

Thanks for taking action.

For democracy,

– Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen

Youngkin’s election chief pulls Va. from group targeted by election deniers




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.


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.”


Propelled by a new coalition of Trump allies, Republican-led legislatures have continued to pass restrictions on ballot access, including new limits to voting by mail in Ohio, a ban on ballot drop boxes in Arkansas and the shortening of early voting windows in Wyoming.


The first recent wave of legislation tightening voting laws came in 2021, when Donald J. Trump’s false claims of voter fraud spurred Republican lawmakers to act over loud objections from Democrats. Two years later, a second wave is steadily moving ahead, but largely under the radar.

Propelled by a new coalition of Trump allies, Republican-led legislatures have continued to pass significant restrictions on access to the ballot, including new limits to voting by mail in Ohio, a ban on ballot drop boxes in Arkansas and the shortening of early voting windows in Wyoming.

Behind the efforts is a network of billionaire-backed advocacy groups that has formed a new hub of election advocacy within the Republican Party, rallying state activists, drafting model legislation and setting priorities.

The groups have largely dropped the push for expansive laws, shifting instead to a strategy one leader describes as “radical incrementalism” — a step-by-step approach intended to be more politically palatable than the broad legislation that provoked widespread protest in 2021.

“They haven’t stopped trying to change how our elections are run. They’re just doing it out of the spotlight,” said Joanna Lydgate, the chief executive of States United, a nonpartisan election group. Some of the policies being promoted today will be law in time for next year’s presidential election, she added, “and American voters will feel the impact.”

Republicans have long said their goal is “election integrity,” but a spate of recent proposals suggests clear, and sometimes strikingly specific, political aims. National Republicans recently sought to change the rules for a single race in Montana — for the U.S. Senate — to tilt the scales toward the Republican candidate. In Ohio, Republican state lawmakers are seeking to make it harder to pass a ballot initiative, just as a coalition of abortion rights groups is collecting signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.


“Arizona official targeted by election deniers now struggles with PTSD”

WaPo with a profile of Maricopa Supervisor Bill Gates, and the extraordinary pressures on local officials when grifters drive the fever dream of conspiracy viral.


“A GOP claim that Michigan purposely tried to encourage voter fraud doesn’t fit with facts”

News from the States:

Republicans at a recent congressional hearing accused Michigan’s chief election official of deliberately leaving tens of thousands of dead voters on the rolls in order to encourage illegal voting.

Even at a time of intense partisan conflict over election policies, it was a strikingly direct charge against a sitting official — and one made not by a Twitter activist or even on the campaign trail, but before Congress. And it comes at a time when election officials are already facing a wave of harassment and threats stemming from false claims about voting.

But a closer look at the facts makes clear the allegation that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson knowingly kept dead people on the rolls to allow for fraud deserves extreme skepticism.


“As 2024 Campaigns Begin, States Confront Threats to Election Workers”

And yet, there’s a lot more to be done.  NCSL has more on a disturbing trend that should be of concern to every single one of its members.

And good for Kansas SOS Scott Schwab for speaking up here (and about drop boxes, and about grace periods for mail, etc.).


“Securing the 2024 Election”

New Brennan Center report with recommendations for 2024. Among them:

Priority: Combat election disinformation

  • State lawmakers should prohibit the spread of false information about the time, place, and manner of voting when it is shared with the intent to prevent voters from voting.
  • The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency should work with federal and state partners to migrate local election offices’ websites to .gov domains, which are only given to U.S.-based government entities and signal credibility to voters trying to find accurate information.

Priority: Protect election workers

  • The Department of Homeland Security should continue to require states to spend a portion of homeland security grants on election security, as it did in fiscal year 2023.
  • State lawmakers should prohibit intimidating conduct at the polls and anywhere else election officials are working. They should allow election workers to shield their personally identifiable information from the public.

Priority: Defend against insider threats

  • Local election officials should develop training, regulations, and protocols that help prevent, identify, and respond to insider threats (when rogue election workers themselves put election security at risk).
  • The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency should develop best practices to guard against insider threats.

Priority: Ensure technological resilience

  • Local election officials should create backup systems and plans so that voting can continue in the event of a cyberattack or technical issue.
  • State lawmakers should mandate post-election audits.


Arizona: “Cochise County ready to hire elections director who spread false claims of 2020 election rigging”


Cochise County is close to hiring an elections director who has repeatedly shared false claims about widespread election fraud on Facebook, including claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against former President Donald Trump.

Bob Bartelsmeyer, currently the elections director in La Paz County, was chosen by Cochise County Recorder David Stevens for the spot. The county supervisors are set to appoint him at their Tuesday meeting, according to a meeting agenda posted on the county website.

“Please join me by posting ‘Trump legally won by landslide’” one post shared by Bartelsmeyer in December 2020 said. “REVEALED: ‘Simple Math’ Shows Biden Claims 13 MILLION More Votes Than There Were Eligible Voters Who Voted in 2020,” read another.

In Cochise, Bartelsmeyer would be working for a southern Arizona county where the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors is considering GOP-backed changes to the county’s elections. Proposals include pursuing a potential plan to get rid of the county’s vote-counting machines because of false claims of vote switching that are similar to those shared by Bartelsmeyer in 2020.

Supervisor Ann English, the lone Democrat on the board, told Votebeat she was concerned that hiring Bartelsmeyer would mean no one would stand in the supervisors’ or Stevens’ way if they attempted to move forward with concerning changes to elections.

“It certainly is scary for me to think about someone coming in to take over an elections system that hasn’t had any problems, with an attitude that elections in the past haven’t been fair,” English said.

Top GOP lawyer decries ease of campus voting in private pitch to RNC

A presentation by Cleta Mitchell at a donor retreat urged tougher rules that could make it harder for college students to cast ballots


Cleta Mitchell, a longtime GOP lawyer and fundraiser who worked closely with former president Donald Trump to try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, gave the presentation at a Republican National Committee donor retreat in Nashville on Saturday.

The presentation — which had more than 50 slides and was labeled “A Level Playing Field for 2024” — offered a window into a strategy that seems designed to reduce voter access and turnout among certain groups, including students and those who vote by mail, both of which tend to skew Democratic.


America’s Coming Age of Instability

Why Constitutional Crises and Political Violence Could Soon Be the Norm



Party officials across the country have sought to erect more barriers for young voters, who tilt heavily Democratic, after several cycles in which their turnout surged.



Trump Sings a Song of Sedition

The January 6 jail anthem was a shocking addition to his repertoire. But our national attention span is so short that we’ve already moved on.



Voting Rights Lab

The Markup: A Weekly Election Legislation Update

March 27, 2023

The Bad News: Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin ended the decade-long practice of his three immediate predecessors, members of both parties, of automatically restoring the voting rights of citizens with past felony convictions upon completion of their sentences. Arkansas and South Dakota enacted legislation prohibiting the use of drop boxesArkansas also criminalized the sending of mail ballot applications, imposed a 24-hour deadline on ballot counting, and prohibited non-public election fundingMississippi criminalized ballot return by friends and neighbors. A bill creating new ID requirements for people registering to vote in Idaho is moving quickly.


“Colorado GOP selects combative, election-denying new leader”


The Colorado Republican Party on Saturday selected a combative former state representative who promised to be a “wartime” leader as its new chairman, joining several other state GOPs this year that have elected far-right figures and election conspiracy theorists to their top posts.

The move in Colorado comes as the party totters on the brink of political irrelevance in a state moving swiftly to the left.

Former State Rep. Dave Williams, who unsuccessfully tried to insert the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” into his name on the party’s primary ballot last year and insists — incorrectly — that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, was selected by the party’s executive committee out of a seven-person field.

Williams crossed the required 50% threshold on the third ballot after being endorsed by one of his competitors, indicted former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who had failed to surpass 10%. Peters faces seven felony charges for her alleged role in illegally accessing voting machines in her county. She has denied the allegations while becoming a prominent national figure in the election conspiracy movement.


With Trump in legal trouble, Georgia GOP targets prosecutors

Rachel Maddow looks at a new measure Georgia Republicans are pushing through the legislature that would give them the ability to remove elected prosecutors they don’t like, and notes the glaring conflict of potential charges pending against Donald Trump in Fulton County as the bill advances. 

Rachel Maddow

March 6, 2023



“With unfounded fraud claims swirling, red California county dumps Dominion voting machines”


Swept up in unproven voter fraud claims, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors has upended the county’s election process, canceling its contract with Dominion Voting Systems and opting this week to pursue, among other options, the possibility of counting votes by hand.

Supervisor Kevin Crye, part of a newly empowered hard-right majority on the board, also announced at Tuesday’s board meeting that he had been in touch with MyPillow Chief Executive Mike Lindell, a prominent pro-Donald Trump election conspiracy theorist, about supporting a pilot voting system in the rural Northern California county.

On the same day, in another Republican-controlled county 400 miles south, Kern County supervisors narrowly voted to keep Dominion as the county’s voting system, but not before listening to hours of testimony from residents who were convinced the system was rigged.

Dominion is one of the largest suppliers of voting machines and software in the U.S., and currently runs voting machines in 41 of California’s 58 counties. After President Trump lost the election in 2020, his supporters spent months propagating baseless conspiracy theories about Dominion, including false accusations that the company’s machines were used to throw votes from Trump to Joe Biden and that Dominion — a company based in Colorado — was a corrupt tool with ties to the Venezuelan government. Those allegations were given heavy airing in right-wing media, including on Fox News.

It’s Sad What’s Happened to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose

I had Secretary Frank LaRose of Ohio speak to my 2020 conference on election integrity along with Secretary Jocelyn Benson of Michigan. One Democrat, one Republican, each from a midwestern state, each fighting against the crazy and for fair election administration.

There have been much more troubling signs from LaRose in recent years.

And now this:

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, as he weighs a run for U.S. Senate, is planning a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. ahead of a scheduled Saturday appearance at a national conservative political conference to appear as the lone election official on a panel called “They Stole it From Us Legally.”

All 10 of Ohio’s Republican members of Congress are listed on the event host committee for the Wednesday afternoon fundraiser near Capitol Hill. Tickets run up to $5,000, with proceeds going to LaRose’s state candidate fund, which can’t directly be used for any federal campaign….

LaRose also has another stop on his Washington, D.C., itinerary this week. He’s a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a major annual event for Republican candidates and right-wing activists.

He’s scheduled to speak on Saturday in a panel discussion alongside Hogan Gidley, a former campaign aide to ex-President Donald Trump who has advanced Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election and now works for an elections-policy center; Abe Hamadeh, who unsuccessfully has sought to overturn the 2022 election results for his race for Arizona attorney general, which he lost; and Lee Zeldin, who lost last year’s race for governor of New York.

The event is titled “They Stole it From Us Legally.” Asked about the event’s title, a spokesman for LaRose said that’s not how the event organizers initially described it to LaRose.

The event’s initial title, according to a document obtained by cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, was “Easy to Vote, Hard to Cheat,” a catchphrase long used by LaRose and other Ohio Republicans.

The LaRose spokesman, Rob Nichols, said LaRose does not hold the position that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Rather, he will talk about the accuracy of Ohio’s elections.


Voting Laws Roundup: February 2023


So far this year, state legislators have introduced 150 restrictive voting bills, 27 election interference bills, and 274 expansive voting bills.

LAST UPDATED: February 27, 2023
PUBLISHED: February 22, 2023


“Failing at polls, election deniers focus on state GOP posts”

AP reports.


“Election deniers who lost secretary of state races now run several state GOP operations”

Zachary Roth:

Many of the election deniers who ran last year for positions that would have given them control over state elections systems lost their races. But several have found a new path to exert influence: as chair of their state Republican Party. 

On Saturday, Kristina Karamo, an activist who rose to prominence for her efforts to overturn Michigan’s 2020 presidential results, was elected chair of the Michigan GOP at the party’s convention. 

A week earlier, Mike Brown, a former county commissioner who has stoked fears that the 2020 election was stolen, won the same job at Kansas’ convention. 

And in July, Idaho Republicans chose Dorothy Moon, a former state legislator who has said there was a “big problem” with the 2020 vote and made unfounded claims about illegal voting, as their leader. 

Meanwhile, Tina Peters announced last week that she’s running for state GOP chair in Colorado. A former county election clerk, Peters is facing felony charges in connection with an alleged scheme to breach secure voting equipment in order to show that her state’s 2020 vote was rigged.

All four Republicans ran unsuccessfully last year for secretary of state, which would have made them their state’s chief election official. Karamo won the Republican nomination, then was defeated in the general election by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat. Brown, Moon, and Peters all lost in the GOP primaries.

Trump wins CPAC straw poll in Dallas


August 6, 2023
At the Conservative Political Action Conference Texas on Saturday, former President Donald Trump overwhelmingly won an unofficial straw poll of attendees who were asked who they preferred as the Republican nominee for president in 2024.

McLaughlin announced the results from the CPAC Texas main stage about two hours before Trump’s scheduled appearance. Among the attendees who voted, 69% said they preferred Trump, with 24% saying they would prefer Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.


“Defiant Kari Lake carries election denier banner across Iowa amid divided GOP”


For two days, Kari Lake traversed this state with a clear message. She falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. She baselessly insisted that votes were rigged against her in her run for Arizona governor last year.And she warned without evidence that future races will be compromised.

“If you lose, lose with dignity. You shake the other person’s hand and walk away,” she told a crowd of approximately 200 at a reception hall on Friday, describing advice from her father on how to gracefully accept defeat. “I didn’t lose, so I’m not doing that.”

Lake, who lost in November by more than 17,000 votes to now-Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), is waging a new campaign without conceding the last one. The former television news anchor is traveling the country as one of the most vocal standard-bearers of an animated if wounded election denialism movement as she weighs a run for U.S. Senate and hears encouragement from some to set her sights on national office.

That movement has persisted in some quarters of the Republican Party despite candidates such as Lake experiencing pivotal losses in last year’s midterms after running openly on denying the results of the 2020 election. 

“Trump VP,” Lake said, speaking of the former president, who in his third run for the White House has continued to make false claims about his 2020 election defeat. “I love President Trump. I will do everything in my power to get that man elected.”

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


Republicans are focused on voter ID rules and making it harder to cast mail ballots, while Democrats are seeking to expand access through automatic voter registration.


“New details emerge in Houston A/C repairman’s 2020 assault over Hotze voter fraud conspiracy”

Houston Chronicle:

More than two years after Steven Hotze bankrolled a private voter fraud investigation that led to an armed confrontation with an innocent repairman, the Houston doctor was back in court earlier this month reiterating claims that Harris County Democrats are engaged in a massive election conspiracy.

Hotze, a Republican megadonor and fierce supporter of the debunked theory that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election, faces felony charges related to the episode and separately is being sued by the repairman. His lawyers this month accused the Democrat-led District Attorney’s office of retaliating against him for exposing the election-rigging, even though no substantive evidence of such a scheme has ever emerged. 

The criminal case against Hotze, who runs a lucrative health clinic in Katy and a vitamin retail business, isn’t likely to go to trial anytime soon in the county’s overburdened court system; Hotze faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint, as does Mark Aguirre, the investigator Hotze hired.

But a Houston Chronicle examination of documents in the civil proceeding reveals new details about the bizarre October 2020 attack – one that became a nationally known example of how an election fraud theory could put an unsuspecting civilian in danger.

The documents include extensive comments from that civilian, a Mexican immigrant named David Lopez who has worked fixing air conditioning systems in Houston for more than five years. He said he continues to fear for his life ever since Aguirre allegedly crashed his SUV into his box truck and pointed a gun at him, all under the false pretense that Lopez’s truck contained hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots. 

“I am afraid because the people who did this to me are very powerful. I have no power,” Lopez said. “I do not know why they attacked me. These people did not find what they were looking for so I am afraid they will attack me again. I don’t know what they are looking for.”

The documents also show that Hotze and his attorneys continue to insist that Lopez could have been a main perpetrator of voter fraud and that he received payments from Harris County Democratic officials. “We’ve got the goods,” Hotze said in a 2022 deposition. “It’s so complicated I can’t – I can’t comment on it right now, but we do.”

“Allen announces withdrawal from voter registration group”


Alabama’s new secretary of state announced the state’s withdrawal Tuesday from a 32-state voter registration partnership, a data-sharing effort that was designed to maintain accurate voter rolls but has sometimes become the target of conservative ire and conspiracy theories.

A day after being sworn in, Allen sent a letter to the Electronic Registration Information Center, a non-profit linking 32 states and the District of Columbia, saying the state will no longer participate in the sharing of voter registration data.

“I made a promise to the people of Alabama that ending our state’s relationship with the ERIC organization would be my first official act as Secretary of State,” Allen said in a statement. The letter said that Alabama would immediately cease transmitting data.

The Republican, who had pledged during his campaign to withdraw from ERIC, cited privacy concerns Tuesday for the decision.

“Providing the private information of Alabama citizens, including underage minors, to an out of state organization is troubling to me and to people that I heard from as I traveled the state for the last 20 months,” Allen said.

The database was created as a tool to maintain accurate voter rolls and combat fraud by allowing states to know when someone moves, dies or registers elsewhere, but has sometimes been targeted by critics.

In November, former Secretary of State John Merrill criticized Allen’s intent to withdraw. He said then that ERIC provides information that Alabama couldn’t otherwise access — such as other states’ voter registration and motorist driver’s license records — and has been a crucial tool for maintaining voting rolls.

“I trust he has evaluated this situation and is making the decision based on what he believes to be in the best interest of the state of Alabama,” Merrill said on Tuesday.


Republicans have already filed dozens of bills to restrict voting in 2023

Kira Lerner

January 17, 2023


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.

“Another ‘radical’ change to the Voting Rights Act could reach the Supreme Court”

Tierney Sneed for CNN:

A case that could further shrink the scope of the Voting Rights Act is before a federal appeals court Wednesday, with the appellate panel considering whether private entities – and not just the US Justice Department – can bring lawsuits under a key provision of the law.

If those seeking a narrowing of the VRA are successful, it would significantly diminish the use of the law to challenge ballot regulations and redistricting maps that are said to be racially discriminatory.

A vast majority of the cases that are brought under the Voting Rights Act – which prohibits election rules that have the intent or effect of discriminating on the basis of race – are brought by private plaintiffs, with the Justice Department facing strained resources and other considerations that limit the number of VRA cases it files to, at most, a few each year.

Last year, however, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Arkansas – running counter to decades of legal practice – said that private parties do not have the ability to sue under the relevant VRA provision, known as Section 2.

The US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals – with a three-judge panel made up of all GOP-appointees – will be considering whether to uphold that finding, setting up the potential for another Supreme Court showdown on voting rights.

“DOJ, no matter how staffed up it is, no matter how many resources they apply to this particular endeavor, is simply not going to be able to do the same amount as it could do with the partnership of private plaintiffs here,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, a top American Civil Liberties Union voting rights attorney who is arguing in favor of a private cause of action in the 8th Circuit case.


Republicans filed record number of anti-voting lawsuits in 2022 – report

Efforts challenging election results and attacking voting rights peaked last year, but courts ruled against the majority of them



Last year, Republican party groups filed 23 democracy-related lawsuits, according to a new report by Democracy Docket, a progressive media platform that tracks voting litigation. The lawsuits included efforts to challenge election results, attacks on mail-in voting and attempts to undermine the administration of elections. The Democratic party, the report found, filed only six voting lawsuits in 2022 and all sought to protect or expand the right to vote.

The almost two dozen lawsuits filed by the GOP is an increase from 20 in 2020, the year of the presidential election in which Donald Trump’s loss was contested in courts for months. There were no new lawsuits by the Republican party in 2021, when there was no major election.

“Evidently, the GOP establishment is becoming more litigious than ever and is turning to courts to achieve its anti-voting and anti-democracy ends,” the report says.


As Republicans inch away from election denialism, one activist digs in

Harry Wait ordered ballots in the names of others to show voter fraud is possible. Now facing up to 13 years in prison, he is undaunted in his crusade to change Wisconsin’s voting laws.



“How Colorado executes its signature-match requirement for ballots disenfranchises many voters, a lawsuit claims”

From Colorado Public Radio:

Lawful votes are unconstitutionally discarded in Colorado, often because a voter’s signature doesn’t match what’s on file, according to a lawsuit filed in Denver District Court late last week.

The signature match requirement is meant to prevent voter fraud, since mail or at-home voting takes place away from a polling site. But, the lawsuit said, fraud is extremely rare, and ballot rejections disproportionately impact diverse communities, disabled people and the youngest and oldest voters.

“For the vast majority of Colorado voters who vote by mail this fundamental right is contingent on an arbitrary, deeply flawed signature matching process,” read the lawsuit. “While ostensibly deployed to verify voter identity, signature matching is election integrity theater: it disenfranchises qualified voters by the tens of thousands, all for the appearance — but not the reality — of election integrity.”

The lawsuit notes that actual voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

A similar lawsuit was filed last month in Washington. Both were filed in state court, on state law grounds (to avoid federal questions that may tee up review in the United States Supreme Court). I’ll be watching these in the months ahead.

Did Trump Say Election Fraud Allows for ‘Termination’ of US Constitution?The former president continued to push 2020 election conspiracy theories in late 2022.

Published Dec 5, 2022


In early December 2022, former U.S. President Donald Trump continued his election denialism push and called for the termination of the Constitution, among other “rules and regulations,” in order to reinstate him to power. Trump’s controversial comments were posted on Truth Social on Dec. 3, after a report came out detailing Twitter’s deliberations leading up to its decision to suppress links to a 2020 article in the New York Post describing emails allegedly found on a laptop computer belonging to Hunter Biden, then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son. 

In a post made on his verified Truth Social account, Trump wrote: 

So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!

Following Trump’s statement, numerous politicians across both parties criticized him, but many Republicans continued to express loyalty towards Trump, who had announced in November that he would make another bid for the presidency in 2024. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had not commented on Trump’s statement as of this writing. 

“Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney wrote on Twitter: “Donald Trump believes we should terminate ‘all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the Constitution’ to overturn the 2020 election. That was his view on 1/6 and remains his view today. No honest person can now deny that Trump is an enemy of the Constitution.”


‘Citizen Integrity’ Teams’ Efforts Could Be Groundwork for Next False Claims About Election Results

Election denier groups are using defective “research” practices to gather material that could become false claims of fraud in the midterms.

 Katie Friel



Republican Secretaries of State Walk a Minefield of Election Lies

Once viewed as neutral administrators, these state officials are under growing pressure to pick sides, dividing one of the last bastions of bipartisanship.

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.


Big Donors Working to Overturn the 2020 Election Are Backing Election Denial Candidates in 2022

A handful of donors have spent over $71 million supporting federal and state candidates who cast doubt on the 2020 presidential election, including races for key election administration positions like secretary of state and governor.

Julia Fishman

Ian Vandewalker

November 3, 2022


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.


Remarks by President Biden on Standing up for Democracy

Nov. 2, 2022


Election deniers aren’t the only threats to democracy this year

[CNN] Editor’s Note: Joshua A. Douglas is a law professor at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law. He is the author of  “Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting.” Find him at  www.joshuaadouglas.com and on Twitter @JoshuaADouglas. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion on CNN.


Here are some of the main falsehoods and rumors that have spread on social media in the lead-up to Election Day.


Stop the Steal” conspiracy theories are coming for swing state ballot boxes

Election-denying poll watchers are casting a shadow on the 2022 midterms.

Pro-Trump Republicans court election volunteers to ‘challenge any vote’

See how your votes aren’t equal

A version of this story appears in CNN’s What Matters newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.


Stephanie Amador—The Tennessean/USA TODAY NETWORK/Reuters
OCTOBER 24, 2022


In a rambling, 14-page restatement of false claims and conspiracy theories, the former president did not indicate whether he would testify before the House panel investigating the Capitol riot.

Luke Broadwater and 

‘Stop the steal’ supporters train thousands of U.S. poll observers

Letters from an American, Heather Scott RichardsonOct. 7, 2022The 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.

Mr. Geidner is a journalist who writes about the law and politics.


Around a dozen election-denying Republican candidates secured their party’s nomination for secretary of state this fall. This is the reality, two years on, that Donald Trump’s election lies have created.

There are three types of election-denying candidates, and each one poses distinct problems for civic integrity. There are the swing-state candidates getting lots of justified attention, running in places like Arizona and Michigan, because their elections could have pivotal, clear national implications in the 2024 presidential campaign.

There are candidates like Chuck Gray in Wyoming, who is all but certain to take office in January, as Democrats didn’t field an opponent. Election-denying candidates in very red states aren’t getting as much attention now, but they likely will come January, when they are officeholders. They will help set policies in their states — many of which will also have Republican-led legislatures and governors — where extremist ideas could become law.

And there are people like Dominic Rapini, Connecticut’s Republican secretary of state nominee, who are running in blue states and unlikely to win. Their campaigns, though, will have critical fallout effects. By virtue of their statewide platforms, even losing candidates can further damage the discourse — in their states and nationally — and increase the risks to our democracy. Election deniers in blue states can uniquely exacerbate Mr. Trump’s undermining of faith in our elections, and they, like their winning counterparts in red states, can set the stage for local election-denying candidates to win now or in the future.


Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Lawrence Tribe on the future of the Voting Rights Act

The New York Review of Books

September 24, 2022 Newsletter

Other than Moore v. Harper, what other significant cases do you see coming in the next term? 

There are many, but I would single out Merrill v. Milligan, a case from Alabama in which the Supreme Court will have the majority it has been moving toward to essentially finish the project of gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

This interview probably isn’t a good place for me to elaborate, but I would point your readers toward a wonderful article by Linda Greenhouse in The Atlantic for October 2022, “John Roberts’s Long Game,” in which she argues that the Chief Justice’s position, “essentially, is that any effort to eradicate racial discrimination, is itself racial discrimination,” a Kafkaesque distortion of the Reconstruction Amendments if ever there was one.


The Slow-Motion Coup

What has Donald Trump taken from our democracy?

Mark Danner

Oct. 6, 2022 edition

The Slow-Motion Coup

“CNN Exclusive: DHS rejects plan to protect election officials from harassment as midterms loom”


The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency this summer turned down a multimillion-dollar proposal to protect election officials from harassment ahead of the midterm elections, multiple people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The plan’s rejection comes as some DHS and cyber officials have expressed concern about their work to stem disinformation being cast as “partisan,” according to multiple people familiar with DHS policy discussions. Last month, DHS shut down its high-profile Disinformation Governance Board after Republicans criticized the expert chosen to lead the board as being overly partisan.

“DHS got very spooked after the failed rollout of the Disinformation Governance Board, even though the message [from administration officials] was clear that we can’t back down, we can’t be bullied by the right,” a senior US official told CNN.

The proposal, which was made by a federally funded nonprofit, also included plans to track foreign influence activity and modestly increase resources for reporting domestic mis- and disinformation related to voting.

DHS officials had legal concerns about the plan’s scope and whether it could be in place for November, the people said. But the decision not to adopt the anti-harassment part of the proposal has drawn frustration from at least two election officials as their colleagues nationwide continue to face an unprecedented wave of violent threats often inspired by online misinformation.


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.

Trump backers flood election offices with requests as 2022 vote nears


The requests for records related to the 2020 election have complicated preparations for November, which some officials say may be the point



Republicans in key battleground races refuse to say they will accept results

Of the 19 GOP candidates questioned by The Washington Post, a dozen declined to answer or refused to commit. Democrats overwhelmingly said they would respect the results.


“Michigan Republicans Stumble in Dress Rehearsal for Overturning Future Elections”


Ever since allies of Donald Trump in Michigan failed to stall the certification of Joe Biden’s win in 2020, they have pursued a methodical purge of election officials who affirmed the results, replacing them with new canvassers who wanted to overturn the election—and who could thwart the will of voters in the future.

Conservatives put their cards on the table sooner than expected. With Trump’s possible comeback bid still two years away, Republican members of Michigan’s State Board of Canvassers last week blocked two proposed constitutional amendments regarding abortion rights and voting rights. They flouted the usually-decisive recommendation of the state’s Bureau of Elections, which had determined that both measures received more than enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. 

The state Supreme Court intervened on Thursday in a pair of 5-2 decisions that will put both amendments on the Nov. 8 ballot, meaning Michiganders will decide whether to codify the right to access abortion in the state constitution and whether to expand ballot access by strengthening a slate of voting procedures like mail-in voting.

But this also marks a failure for Michigan Republicans’ trial balloon for subverting future elections, whether the 2024 presidential race or the midterms. Once again, GOP canvassers weaponized their role in the long chain of custody over election processes, and this time they stayed unified long enough to halt routine procedures. But a majority on the high court did not blink, signaling that they are willing to act as a backstop—and could again in the future.
Read More

“It was dangerous for democracy when Canvassers in Michigan said they would refuse to certify the election results in 2020,” Josh Douglas, a University of Kentucky professor specialized in election law, told Bolts. “The Michigan Supreme Court’s decision on both of these initiatives show that refusing to put these issues on the ballot was the same kind of overreach.”

For Leah Litman, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, the sequence of events at least establishes a precedent for how the state’s high court could intervene after the 2022 or 2024 elections if GOP canvassers similarly attempt to block results. 

But that road map would only work “if the court stays the same,” she added. 

Two justices on the Michigan Supreme Court are running for re-election in November—Democrat Richard Bernstein, who voted with the majority on Thursday, and Republican Brian Zahra, one of the dissenters. The GOP would flip the seven-member court if it sweeps both seats. On the one hand, that would not have been enough to change Thursday’s rulings since Republican Elizabeth Clement voted with the four Democrats. Four of the justices who voted to restore the amendments on Thursday—enough for a majority—have terms that are meant to last through the end of 2026.

Still, the two rulings were handed down almost along party lines and Clement did not write an opinion in either, leaving some uncertainty over how a higher-profile partisan confrontation over a presidential election would unfold. The next two years could also bring an unforeseen vacancy on the court, which would be filled by whomever wins November’s governor’s race between Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Tudor Dixon, who is endorsed by Trump and has falsely said the 2020 election was stolen.


There’s No Escaping the Truth About Trump

The former president has imprinted his moral pathologies and will-to-power ethic on the Republican Party.

By Peter Wehner

About the author: Peter Wehner is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a senior fellow at the Trinity Forum, and the author of The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.


The Election Official Who Tried to Prove “Stop the Steal”

How a group of conspiracy theorists enlisted a county clerk in Colorado to find evidence that the 2020 vote was rigged.

Cameras, Plexiglass, Fireproofing: Election Officials Beef Up Security

In Wisconsin, one of the nation’s key swing states, cameras and plexiglass now fortify the reception area of a county election office in Madison, the capital, after a man wearing camouflage and a mask tried to open locked doors during an election in April.

In another bellwether area, Maricopa County, Ariz., where beleaguered election workers had to be escorted through a scrum of election deniers to reach their cars in 2020, a security fence was added to protect the perimeter of a vote tabulation center.

And in Colorado, the state’s top election official, Jena Griswold, the secretary of state and a Democrat, resorted to paying for private security out of her budget after a stream of threats.

As the nation hurtles closer to the midterm elections, those who will oversee them are taking a range of steps to beef up security for themselves, their employees, polling places and even drop boxes, tapping state and federal funding for a new set of defenses. The heightened vigilance comes as violent rhetoric from the right intensifies and as efforts to intimidate election officials by those who refuse to accept the results of the 2020 election become commonplace.Read More
Discussing security in a recent interview with The Times, Ms. Griswold, 37, said that threats of violence had kept her and her aides up late at night as they combed through comments on social media.

At a right-wing group’s gathering in Colorado earlier this year, she said, a prominent election denier with militia ties suggested that she should be killed. That was when she concluded that her part-time security detail provided by the Colorado State Patrol wasn’t enough.

“They called for me to be hung,” said Ms. Griswold, who is running for re-election. “It’s a long weekend. I’m home alone, and I only get seven hours of State Patrol coverage.”

Even in places where there was never a shadow of a doubt about the political leanings of the electorate, election officials have found themselves under threat. In a Texas county that President Donald J. Trump won by 59 percentage points in 2020all three election officials recently resigned, with at least one citing repeated death threats and stalking.

One in five local election officials who responded to a survey earlier this year by the Brennan Center for Justice said that they were “very” or “somewhat unlikely” to continue serving through 2024.
The collective angst is a recurring theme at workshops and conferences attended by election officials, who say it is not unusual for them to exchange anecdotes about threatening messages or harassment at the grocery store. The discussions have turned at times to testing drop boxes — a focus of right-wing attacks on mail-in voting — to see if they can withstand being set on fire.
Benjamin Hovland, a member of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, described the intimidation campaign as pervasive.
“This isn’t a red-state issue or a blue-state issue,” Mr. Hovland said in a recent interview. “This is a national issue, where the professional public servants that run our elections have been subjected to an unprecedented level of threats, harassment and intimidating behavior.”
In guidance issued in June, the Election Assistance Commission allowed for federal election grants to be used for physical security services and to monitor threats on social media.

In Wisconsin’s Dane County, which includes Madison, partisan poll watchers and a brigade of lawyers with the Trump campaign descended in 2020 to dispute the election results. County officials recently budgeted $95,000 to start designing a new and more secure election center.
The move came after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducted a risk assessment in April on the current election offices for the county and city, which are housed in the same building.
“It’s kind of a sieve,” Scott McDonell, a Democrat and the county’s clerk for the past decade, said in an interview.
But with a new center likely to be a long way from fruition, more immediate steps were taken. In the past six months, security cameras and plexiglass were installed, according to Mr. McDonell, 53.
But those measures are just a “stopgap,” Mr. McDonell said, recalling the April episode when a masked man tried to enter several restricted areas during local elections.
“He’s all in camo, shaking on doors, trying to get into spaces and filming everything,” Mr. McDonell said. “That would never happen in a properly secured, laid-out building that was designed for elections.”
The emphasis on security has extended to the municipal level, with Dane County training local clerks for the first time last month on de-escalation techniques and how to respond to an active shooter, Mr. McDonell said.
Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, was a nexus of efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The security fence erected around the county’s tabulation and elections center last year is 10 feet tall. Its purpose: to prevent a repeat of November 2020, when election workers were surrounded by a crowd of Trump loyalists, some of them armed, as the workers tried to get to their cars.
The security buildup didn’t end there. The county added new security cameras, including 23 with livestreaming capability, installed glass walls around a computer server and hired private security patrols to augment its own guards, said Scott Jarrett, the nonpartisan co-director of the county’s elections department.

A layer of protective film was also applied to all of the building’s windows to make them harder to break and to obscure employees’ faces, especially at night.
“Even someone with a hammer who was banging against it, I think the manufacturer said that someone could be doing that for a consistent five minutes, and it’s not going to break,” Mr. Jarrett said.
The county even built a vault with a fire-suppression system to hold ballots, according to Mr. Jarrett.
“There’s not an election official probably in the country right now who doesn’t have some concerns,” he said of the stressful working conditions for election workers. “Democracy, I think, is coming under assault.”
Michigan’s top election official, Jocelyn Benson, 44, who is a Democrat, has a security detail from the state when she needs it. In an interview, she described a time in December 2020 when a group gathered outside her Detroit home to call for her to overturn the victory of Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Michigan. Some of them were armed.

“I was about to put my son to bed, and dozens of individuals descended on our home,” Ms. Benson said. A neighborhood security guard initially was the only one separating the home from the crowd, which shouted obscenities that she said woke up her neighbors.
“It was a very haunting moment,” said Ms. Benson, who was interviewed about the confrontation as part of the congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “What it has created is an omnipresent feeling of anxiety and dread that permeates our daily lives.”
Michigan received $8 million in federal election funds that Ms. Benson said local election officials could spend on physical security and efforts to tamp down misinformation.Still, in testimony last month before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Benson urged the federal government to set aside more money for security.
“To protect democracy, we must protect election officials,” Ms. Benson, who is running for re-election, said on Thursday.
In Colorado, Mr. Trump’s allies have frequently tussled over election oversight with Ms. Griswold, who said that her office had compiled a 60-page PDF detailing the hundreds of threats that she had received.

On two occasions, the threats have led to criminal charges: one man was arrested in July over a threatening phone call, and in June, a Nebraska man pleaded guilty to threatening Ms. Griswold on Instagram. It was the first conviction resulting from the work of a Justice Department task force focused on the intimidation of election officials.
Ms. Griswold drew a comparison between those making violent threats toward election officials and the people who took part in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.“We have to take threats of violence seriously,” Ms. Griswold said. “We have to dis-incentivize it.”

Election deniers repeatedly visited Ga. county office at center of criminal probe, video shows



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September 4, 2022


Biden warns U.S. faces powerful threat from anti-democratic forces

Biden, in prime-time address, says Trump and “MAGA Republicans” are mounting a dangerous attack on the country’s values, and Americans must fight back



“Response to Trump Search Highlights Violent Rhetoric From the Right”


One week after a team of F.B.I. agents descended on his private club and residence in Florida, former President Donald J. Trump warned that his followers were enraged by the search — and that things could get out of hand if the Justice Department kept the heat on him.

“People are so angry at what is taking place,” Mr. Trump told Fox News. “Whatever we can do to help because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.”

This week, one of Mr. Trump’s closest allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, issued a similar warning that Mr. Trump quickly reposted on his social media platform. Mr. Graham, in a Fox News appearance on Sunday, predicted that if the search of Mar-a-Lago led to a prosecution of the former president, there would be “riots in the streets.”

The assessments by both men were worded carefully enough that they could be defended as efforts to spare the nation unnecessary strife, and on Monday, Mr. Graham tried to walk back his remarks, saying, “I reject violence.”

But the statements could also be perceived as fanning the same flames of outrage they claimed to be trying to avert. They carried a distinct echo of Mr. Trump’s calls after the 2020 election to do what was needed to keep him in office, signals that contributed to the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol soon after he urged his supporters to “fight like hell.”

In a broader sense, the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago has emerged as the latest rallying cry for those on the right who have long been suspicious that the powers of the federal government could be turned against them. It has prompted calls to dismantle or defund the F.B.I. and furious denunciations of what far-right supporters of Mr. Trump increasingly portray as an overreaching national security apparatus.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump spent much of the morning reposting messages from known purveyors of the QAnon conspiracy theory and from 4chan, an anonymous message platform where threats of violence often blossom. Some were outright provocations, such as a photograph of President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi with their faces obscured by the words, “Your enemy is not in Russia.”

Over the past several years, intimations of violence have become more common in the Republican Party, a trend fueled in large part by Mr. Trump’s lies about his election loss. Threats of violent responses from the right have also shown up around policy changes such as the recent gun legislation signed into law by Mr. Biden and surrounding hot-button social issues like transgender rights and the teaching of antiracism themes in schools.

Now the response by Mr. Trump and some of his allies to the search at Mar-a-Lago — including statements laced with fury at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. — is underscoring yet again the degree to which threatening undertones are creeping into Republican political speech, raising concern about words spilling over into violent action.


“Trump shares barrage of QAnon content and other conspiracy theories on his social media platform”

NBC News:

Former President Donald Trump spent Tuesday morning posting inflammatory messages on social media, including many explicitly promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory.

While Trump has in the past promoted QAnon-inspired accounts and theories, the posts on his Truth Social account were his most explicit, unobscured, QAnon-promoting and QAnon-baiting posts to date.

In one, he reposted the QAnon slogan — “Where We Go One We Go All.” In another, he re-posted a 2017 message from “Q” that’s critical of the intelligence community. The QAnon conspiracy theory was built around Q, an anonymous account that posts periodically on 8kun, often with vague or symbolic language that is then interpreted by followers. The account claims to document a secret battle being waged by Trump against the Democratic Party, which followers of the theory contend is run by satanic, child-eating cannibals who run a pedophile ring filled with celebrities and political elites who have been covertly running the United States government for decades. None of the posts’ concrete predictions have come to fruition.

Users of QAnon forums rejoiced at Trump’s apparent endorsement of the conspiracy theory and its mythology. The top response on the most visited QAnon forum to one of Trump’s posts about the conspiracy theory read simply, “Wipe them out sir.” Others pleaded with Trump to “nuke them from orbit” and to “sir, please finish them off,” referring to QAnon enemies such as Hillary Clinton and President Joe Biden.

In addition to the QAnon-adjacent posts, Trump shared several conspiracy theories Tuesday on his Truth Social site and he re-posted a picture of Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the words “Your enemy is not in Russia” written in black bars over their eyes.

The posting spree comes one day after Trump posted a message that he should be reinstated as president — “Declare the rightful winner, or hold a new Election, NOW!” — and as he’s come under increased scrutiny from federal investigators who executed a search warrant at his Florida resort earlier this month and recovered troves of classified documents.


Trump Acted as Though the Military Swore an Oath to Him Personally

Little surprise that so many of the scandals of his presidency and post-presidency involved the military and national security concerns.
AUGUST 19, 2022



How Team Trump Breached the Election System

MAGA activists’ schemes to obtain voting equipment were more far-reaching, and more successful, than previously known.
AUGUST 29, 2022



Election officials brace for onslaught of poll watchers

Surge in observers during the primary, along with tensions and disruptions, leads to NC rule tightening.

North Carolina’s May primary was “one of the worst elections I’ve ever worked,” said Karen Hebb, the elections director in Henderson County. “It was worse than COVID.” 

In addition to long conversations with skeptical voters bringing her misinformation they read on the Internet, Hebb said she and her staff were blindsided by the sheer number of election observers who wanted to watch voting during the primary. There were at least 20 from the Republican Party alone, she said, compared with five or six observers total in the past. “We’ve never had that before,” she said. 

Hebb stresses she’s fine with having observers. But some of the people watching the primary were disruptive, endlessly questioning workers and demanding to approach tabulators to verify totals, she reported to state officials in a post-election survey. Become a Votebeat sponsor

And in one alarming case, Hebb said in an interview with Votebeat, an observer followed an election worker from a voting site to the elections office “to make sure that they actually brought the ballots.”

In the wake of the primary, Hebb is one of many local election officials nationwide worried about an onslaught of election observers. She called a special meeting with election workers to discuss the issues that came up during the primary. …

For its part, the North Carolina State Board of Elections last week unanimously approved the temporary changes to the rules governing election observers. The changes were an attempt to clean up existing rules that the state board’s associate general counsel, Paul Cox, described as “not models of clarity.” The state’s Rules Review commission must still approve the changes. Become a Votebeat sponsorhttps://c9fd74df8a7908a89d77c6f35c957354.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The new rules more clearly spell out where observers are permitted to be. For example, the new rules specify that observers cannot be “so close to a tabulator, laptop, pollbook[,] or other official [voting] document” that they are able to view confidential voter information. They may not use doors restricted to election workers only, unless authorized by the polling place judge, but do not have to stand in line with voters to enter. 

Multiple people spoke at public hearings in July and August about the proposed changes to the relatively obscure rules. Among them: Cleta Mitchell, a conservative election attorney who featured in Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has been spearheading conservative efforts to train election observers. Mitchell, who said she now resides in Pinehurst, NC, a nationally renowned golf destination, said the state board was improperly using the temporary rulemaking process “for the purpose of curbing the enthusiastic interest that many citizens of North Carolina have expressed in making sure that the elections conducted in our state are transparent and that they are following the law.” 

The state board, which has three Democratic members and two Republicans, also received hundreds of public comments about the proposed changes, a sign of just how charged the issue of election observers is right now. 

“At this time of increasing incivility and openly egregious attacks on our democracy and voting rights, it is more important than ever to establish some ground rules and expectations for a safe, secure, and non-threatening electoral process.” one email in favor read. 


According to a new poll, “threats to democracy” have overtaken the cost of living as the chief issue facing  American voters, most of whom believe that Donald Trump should remain under legal investigation over his failed plot to subvert the election.



How Trump’s Endorsements Elevate Election Lies and Inflate His Political Power

The former president’s 220 endorsements have been guided more by self-serving impulses than by unseating Democrats.


The unifying thread through the majority of Mr. Trump’s endorsements has been a candidate’s willingness to help him spread the lie that he won the 2020 presidential race. Many of these candidates either took concrete actions to subvert the election, such as voting in Congress or state legislatures to delay certification of the vote, suing to overturn results or backing partisan reviews of the ballot count. Others made clear public statements in political ads, social media posts or on the campaign trail that expressed doubts about the 2020 election. [Boldface added]

“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.


GOP Candidate Backed by Party Leadership Said Merrick Garland Should ‘Probably Be Executed’

Carl Paladino has praised Hitler, hired a convicted sex offender, and secured the endorsement of third-ranking House Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik


“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.


Big Tech braces for “big lie” in 2022 midterms

By Sara Fischer, author of Axios Media Trends
The FBI’s raid of former President Trump’s home in Mar-A-Lago has set off another wave of online rage among his supporters, putting tech giants on high alert for new efforts to undermine the legitimacy of U.S. elections, Axios’ Sara Fischer reports.

Why it matters: Tech companies were caught flat-footed by the deluge of disinformation aimed at delegitimizing the election process and outcome in 2020. Now, amid intense regulatory scrutiny, they are trying to get ahead of a repeat. 

Details: Several Big Tech firms debuted new midterm-election policies in the past week, designed to give political campaigns time to adapt to the changes as campaigns ramp up. 

TikTok on Wednesday doubled down on its ban on paid political ads, including paid influencer content. 

  • The company said it’s taking new measures to block influencers and advertisers from forming undisclosed paid political partnerships. 
  • It also launched its Election Center, an in-app hub with authoritative information about voting and the election, six weeks earlier than it did in 2020.

Meta on Tuesday vowed to remove any misinformation about voting and said it will reject ads encouraging people not to vote or calling into question the legitimacy of the election.

  • As it did in 2020, Meta will block new political and issue ads during the final week of the election campaign.
  • It also said that during that week, it would no longer permit any edits to ads that have been previously approved to run.

Twitter last week said it would beginning enforcing its civic integrity policy, which bans the most common types of misinformation about elections and civic events.

  • It also labels questionable tweets and adds links to credible information or helpful context. 
  • The company said it will also begin rolling out “prebunks,” or blurbs about accurate information about voting and the elections. 

Yes, but: The media landscape has become so fragmented in recent years that even the most careful defensive tactics by the most popular social media firms won’t be able to halt the spread of election misinformation — including the “big lie” that Trump won in 2020, a claim supported by no credible evidence.

  • Cable news networks, podcasts, encrypted messaging apps, email, direct mail, and alternative social networks provide a huge breeding ground for misleading election information. And the spreaders of election denialism are very adept at navigating a sprawling and ever-changing media landscape. 

The big picture: The shift in election misinformation online from mostly Russian, state-backed campaigns in 2016 to more domestic, fringe networks now presents social media firms with a difficult free speech challenge.

  • Coordinated inauthentic behavior campaigns by state-backed actors are often easier to identify and stop than misinformation spread by everyday users.
  • Twitter’s decision to block a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop from being shared in the month leading up to the 2020 election triggered a sweeping backlash from conservative users who felt that the company had censored the story for political purposes. (Twitter’s former CEO later said that decision was a mistake.) 

What to watch: More companies are putting resources towards combatting election and voting misinformation in languages other than English, following revelations over the past year of election misinformation campaigns targeting Spanish-language voters.

  • Meta said it’s putting more infrastructure in place to show accurate information about voting to users in a second language other than English. 
  • Twitter’s prebunks will be presented in English, Spanish and all other languages supported on Twitter. 
  • TikTok’s Elections Center will include resources in more than 45 languages, including English and Spanish. 

Go deeper: How the “big lie” spread


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



The New Era of Political Violence Is Here

The danger is not organized civil war but individual Americans with deep resentments and delusions.

August 15, 2022



There is no single principle that unites these Americans in their violence against their fellow citizens. They will tell you that they are for “liberty” and “freedom,” but these are merely code words for personal grudges, racial and class resentments, and a generalized paranoia that dark forces are manipulating their lives. These are not people who are going to take up the flag of a state or of a deeper cause; they have already taken up the flag of a failed president, and their causes are a farrago of conspiracy theories and pulpy science-fiction plots.

What makes this situation worse is that there is no remedy for it. When people are driven by fantasies, by resentment, by an internalized sense of inferiority, there is no redemption in anything. Winning elections, burning effigies, even shooting at other citizens does not soothe their anger but instead deepens the spiritual and moral void that haunts them.

“Doug Mastriano Plans to Use His Secretary of State Pick to Disrupt Pennsylvania Elections”


Doug Mastriano is a Donald Trump loyalist, and an ardent proponent of the former president’s baseless conspiracies about the 2020 election. He was outside the capitol on Jan. 6th, brought supporters to D.C. that day, and has been subpoenaed by the congressional committee investigating the riots. Now, Mastriano is also the GOP nominee in Pennsylvania’s governor’s race in November. His victory would hand over control of a large swing state to a hard right election denier in the lead-up to the next presidential race.

“He has revealed the Deceit, Corruption, and outright Theft of the 2020 Presidential Election, and will do something about it,” Trump said of Mastriano when he endorsed him in May. 

A centerpiece of Mastriano’s promise to revamp the state’s election system is to flex the governor’s authority to choose Pennsylvania’s secretary of state.

“As governor, I get to appoint the secretary of state. And I have a voting reform-minded individual who’s been traveling the nation and knows voting reform extremely well,” Mastriano told Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for Trump, in an April interview. “That individual has agreed to be my secretary of state.”

Read More

Mastriano rarely talks to the news media and mostly conducts interviews in far right venues, where his narrative about the 2020 election will not be questioned. As such, he has not publicly named the person he would name for secretary of state, though reporting from HuffPost and the Philadelphia Inquirer  revealed some possible contenders among his like-minded allies. Mastriano’s campaign did not respond to an interview request for this article.

He has made it clear he would use many of the levers at his disposal to change rules he portrays as rife with corruption. “I saw better elections in Afghanistan than in Pennsylvania,” Mastriano, who spent much of his career in the U.S. Army, said during his campaign. He could work with the legislature, for instance, to pass new voting restrictions like rolling back mail-in voting or adopting harsh voter ID laws, measures he has promoted in the past. He has also proposed forcing voters to re-register and has said he could decertify all election machines in the state.

The ability to reshape the secretary of state position gives him more options than he might have in a state where the position is an elected office.


Herrera Beutler’s loss underscores risk to GOP of crossing Trump

Michigan Officials Detail a Brazen Voting Machine Scheme by Trump Supporters

Revelations of possible meddling have set off a political tsunami in a critical battleground state, as the attorney general seeks an independent inquiry into her likely rival on the ballot this fall.

Nick CorasanitiAlan Feuer and 


DeSantis stokes culture wars as 2024 profile grows


A Harvard CAPS-Harris poll released this week found that, without Trump on the ballot, DeSantis would lead his closest rival, former Vice President Mike Pence, by a 15-point margin.

“I do think that voters are going to have a hard time choosing between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis because they are so similar in what they offer,” Schilling said. “I don’t think there is a DeSantis without Donald Trump opening that huge door for him . . . .” 


State Legislatures Are Torching Democracy

Even in moderate places like Ohio, gerrymandering has let unchecked Republicans pass extremist laws that could never make it through Congress.


Letters from an American, Heather Scott Richardson

August 3, 2022


The January 6 insurrection relied on the Big Lie that Donald Trump had won the 2020 election, a lie that has dramatically destabilized our country. Republicans have only deepened their commitment to that lie since January 6. After yesterday’s Republican primaries, in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, all key states for 2024, election deniers have clinched the Republican nomination for secretary of state—the person in charge of elections—or the governor who would appoint that officer.

In Arizona, Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake claimed there was fraud in her election, without evidence and even before the votes had been counted. “I’m gonna go supernova radioactive,” she told supporters. “We’re not gonna let them steal an election.” (Lake’s election is still unresolved as ballots are being counted.)

The mini-Trumps are as big a threat to democracy as Trump is