National: The fight for voting rights intensifies as the nation marks one year since John Lewis died | Nicquel Terry Ellis/CNN

The fight for voting rights intensified this week with a Black woman lawmaker being arrested while protesting, Texas House Democrats fleeing the state to block Republicans from passing voter restrictions, and Black civil rights leaders blasting President Joe Biden for falling short of their demand to discuss ending the filibuster in his speech. On Friday, 20 Black women organizers met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss their concerns about the nationwide assault on voting rights and the urgent need for support from the White House. The leaders of several Black civil rights groups met with Biden last week about the same issues. It all comes as the nation marks the one-year anniversary of the death of John Lewis, an icon who fought tirelessly for equal voting rights throughout his life. Civil rights leaders say Lewis’ life should serve as an example of how to win as activists push Congress to pass federal legislation that would protect voting access and counter the growing list of state-level laws that restrict voters. Lewis marched in the streets and fought in Congress for voting rights, but he never lost his patience or his faith, civil rights leader Andrew Young said. “He struggled with the same process, the same issues, but he never gave up, he never gave in,” Young said. “He never got angry.” Lewis will be honored Saturday at a candlelight vigil at Black Lives Matter Plaza in DC. Texas House Democrats who traveled there earlier this week to protest voter restrictions in Texas and lobby for federal laws are expected to attend. Members of the Texas Democratic Legislature submitted a letter to Biden on Friday requesting a meeting to discuss the attack on voting rights in their state.

Full Article: The fight for voting rights intensifies as the nation marks one year since John Lewis died – CNN

National: Voting Rights: A Legal Battle Is Under Way Across the U.S. as Election-Related Litigation Surges | Laura Kusisto/Wall Street Journal

Voting laws passed in the wake of the 2020 election are facing a wave of court challenges, setting up a series of legal battles this year that could help reshape the rules around voting for years to come. At least two dozen states have passed laws this year that either expand voting rules or tighten them, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, a public-policy think tank. At least 30 lawsuits are aimed at laws in 11 states that opponents say restrict voting access with measures such as shortening the time period for mail-in and early voting, increasing verification requirements and placing limits on providing food or water to people waiting in line to vote. Mostly liberal groups have challenged these new bills on grounds that they violate aspects of the Voting Rights Act, the First and 14th Amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In Georgia, which has become the epicenter of the fight, groups have filed nine lawsuits over legislation that was passed in late March, according to the Brennan Center. A lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last month against Georgia added firepower to the legal battle over the new voting laws.

Full Article: Voting Rights: A Legal Battle Is Under Way Across the U.S. as Election-Related Litigation Surges – WSJ

National: Why resolving election disputes in the U.S. is so much harder than in other developed democracies. | Joseph Klaver/The Washington Post

Former president Donald Trump and several Republican-led state legislatures continue to try to discredit the 2020 presidential election. Although many countries find it challenging to resolve electoral disputes, doing so is much more difficult and uncertain in the United States than elsewhere. That’s for several reasons. Congress has an unusual role and functions under a vague federal law. What’s more, the United States has a complicated web of local, state and national laws and practices that could make fairly adjudicating future disputes even more difficult. Here’s what you need to know about the rules of the game, here and abroad, for resolving contested elections. Formal disputes over election outcomes are common around the globe. Various academic projects regularly recognize numerous countries’ election systems as better-run than those in the United States — and even these regularly find their election results challenged. For example, Germany handled 275 disputes challenging the results of its 2017 legislative election, encompassing both complaints from one of its 299 electoral districts and complaints about the hundreds of seats distributed using proportional representation. In 2018 and 2019, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Costa Rica adjudicated 738 disputes about municipal and national elections. And in 2017, after the French National Assembly elections, voters and candidates filed hundreds of disputes, and the Constitutional Council invalidated the results of eight races. But French election results are often canceled and so were not unexpected. The process is orderly; that’s probably part of the reason the V-Dem Institute regards France’s electoral democracy more highly than that of the United States.

Full Article: Why resolving election disputes in the U.S. is so much harder than in other developed democracies. – The Washington Post

National: Here is the latest baseless voter fraud allegation, brought to you by Trump and Tucker Carlson | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

In the long history of jarringly ironic comments made by on-air talent at Fox News, a pronouncement from Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night immediately vaulted into the upper echelon. “You can’t have a democracy if the public doesn’t believe election results,” Carlson said. “Increasingly, many people in this country don’t believe them. The solution to that problem, and it’s a significant problem, is not to scream at these people, call them lunatics or throw them in jail. The solution is to tell the truth about what happened.” It is absolutely true that the best way for the decline in confidence in elections to be combated is for trusted voices to tell the truth about the election. And then Carlson, a trusted voice to millions on the political right, proceeded to dump in their laps an array of unproven, irrelevant or obviously incorrect claims about the presidential election. It’s obviously the case that there’s a robust marketplace for this stuff. If Donald Trump were as adept at selling gilded Manhattan apartments as he is false claims about the 2020 election, he’d be the wealthiest real estate agent in human history. He’s deeply invested in the narrative that rampant fraud occurred for reasons of personal pride and that translates into a base of supporters eager for information bolstering his claims that then translates into demand for people like Carlson who have proven track records of prioritizing sensationalism over accuracy. (See here.) (And here.) (And here.) (And here.) (Among others.) So we get a revolving suite of claims that quickly fall apart before the whole enterprise moves to another state.

Full Article: Here is the latest baseless voter fraud allegation, brought to you by Trump and Tucker Carlson – The Washington Post

Editorial: Why easy voter access vs. election security is a false choice. Americans want both. | Will Friedman/USA Today

Last week, President Joe Biden referred to the pitched political battle underway between Republicans and Democrats on voting rights as the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.” In response, the president said, Democrats plan to work harder than ever to increase access, starting an effort to “register (people) to vote, and then get the vote out.” Republicans argue that voter fraud is the real threat to democracy, and that more restrictions and tighter security are the answer. This includes limiting the times and places where people can vote and rolling back systems put in place to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic. What’s interesting is that the American public reject this argument as a false dichotomy and have their own way of looking at what ought to be done to improve elections. In my role as a senior fellow at the nonpartisan organization Public Agenda, I recently co-led a survey of the American public on how to fix what’s ailing our democracy, discussed in our new report, America’s Hidden Common Ground on Renewing Democracy. On questions of voting reform, my colleagues and I decided not to ask whether the public favors one side or the other of the argument described above – plenty of pollsters were doing that already.

Full Article: Voter access vs. security is false choice: Hidden Common Ground

Arizona: Election officials call audit ‘bombshell’ a dud | Howard Fischer/Tucson Sentinel

Claims made about the election audit in Maricopa County that some have labeled a “bombshell” are really a dud, Maricopa County officials say. County officials have issued what they said is a point-by-point knockdown of the most serious charges leveled by Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by Senate President Karen Fann, and Ben Cotton founder of CyFir which bills itself as a digital forensics investigative company. But the county was not allowed to provide a response at Thursday’s hearing at the state Senate as they were not invited and public testimony was not allowed. All of this means that the issue is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. In fact, Jack Sellers, who chairs the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said he is prepared for a future legal fight. “Finish your audit, release the report, and be prepared to defend it in court,” he said in a prepared statement. On Thursday, Logan and Cotton presented their findings to date to Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, who chairs the Judiciary Committee. Democrats on the panel were not allowed to participate or ask questions. The two contractors said they are likely months away from a final report. Logan said it could even mean a door-to-door canvass to find certain voters. And they also claim they have not been provided with all the materials the Senate had subpoenaed, a claim that Sellers disputed. “Stop accusing us of not cooperating when we have given you everything qualified auditors would need to do this job,” Sellers said, taking a slap at the firms the Senate has retained.

Full Article: Election officials call Arizona audit ‘bombshell’ a dud | Arizona and Regional News | tucson.com

Arizona audit muddles on with no clear end in sight | Tal Axelrod/The Hill

Arizona’s partisan election audit is muddling along with no end on the horizon as Republicans in the state Senate and Democratic outside groups battle over the process. The glacial pace of the audit — which state Senate Republicans kicked off in December — was put into sharp relief this week with each side complaining that the other had not provided needed documents related to the count. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp shot down a motion from the GOP to dismiss a lawsuit from liberal watchdog group American Oversight seeking documents related to the state Senate’s audit. Attorneys for the Republicans had argued that the information, which is currently in the possession of the private contracting firm Cyber Ninjas, is not obtainable under public disclosure rules. But Kemp rejected that argument Wednesday. “Nothing in the statute absolves Senate defendants’ responsibilities to keep and maintain records for authorities supported by public monies by merely retaining a third-party contractor who in turn hires subvendors,” the judge wrote. Kemp’s ruling also dismissed a GOP effort to combine the lawsuit from American Oversight with one also seeking public records brought by The Arizona Republic. American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers hailed the ruling, saying it was a key step in providing more transparency to Arizonans over the audit. “Starting now, the Arizona Senate is going to have to face real, public accountability,” Evers said.

Full Article: Arizona audit muddles on with no clear end in sight | TheHill

California recall candidate list draws confusion | Michael R. Blood and Kathleen Ronayne/Associated Press

The official list of who’s running in California’s recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom remained unsettled Sunday, with conservative talk radio host Larry Elder maintaining he should be included but state officials saying he submitted incomplete tax returns, a requirement to run. Elder’s next recourse is to go to court to get on the…

Georgia: Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to overturn Senate elections | David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Henry County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the runoff elections that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. The lawsuit aimed to void the election of Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate. But Superior Court Judge Brian Amero rejected the effort at a hearing Monday. It’s the latest failure in a series of unsuccessful lawsuits that challenged Democratic victories in Georgia, including President Joe Biden’s narrow victory over former President Donald Trump. The latest lawsuit contested the Senate election results and sought a new election to be conducted on paper ballots. The plaintiff, Fulton County resident Michael Daugherty, said the senate election was marred by misconduct, raising doubts that Warnock and Ossoff were the true winners. He cited allegations of improper ballot counting at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on election night in November. Those allegations were investigated and debunked by the Secretary of State’s Office. Among other things, he also said the state’s Dominion Voting System machines did not accurately record the results — claims that election officials say are false and have led to defamation lawsuits against some of the attorneys who have spread them. The defendants in the lawsuit included Warnock and Ossoff, as well as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the State Election Board, and election boards in Fulton, DeKalb and Coffee counties. In court briefs and arguments, they said Daugherty’s arguments have already been rejected by judges in other lawsuits. They said the problems he cited occurred in November, not during the January runoff. They argued the election challenge was filed too late and that the lawsuit was not properly served on Warnock and Ossoff.

Full Article: Judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to overturn Georgia Senate elections

Georgia: U.S. Senate field hearing seeks momentum for election bills | Mark Niesse and Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Attempting to revive stalled federal voting rights bills, U.S. Senate Democrats built their case Monday in Georgia by using the state’s voting law as an example of the kinds of restrictions they’re trying to stop. The rare field hearing of the Senate Rules Committee collected testimony from voting rights advocates and Georgia’s two Democratic Party senators who spoke against new voter ID requirements for absentee voting, limits on ballot drop boxes and the possibility of Republican-led takeovers of local elections management. “They’re trying to find new ways to mess with the fundamental rights of citizens to vote,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota and chairwoman for the Senate Rules Committee. “The way you get at that, you’re supposed to find salvation from the Constitution and the federal government. This is that moment.” But the senators didn’t provide a path forward to break an impasse over voting bills that would impose national standards for election access and restore federal oversight of voting laws. Senate Republicans blocked debate on sweeping voting legislation last month, and Democrats have been unable to overcome filibuster rules that require a 60-vote threshold for measures to advance in the evenly divided chamber. Georgia is one of 17 states with Republican legislatures that have passed voting laws after last year’s election and Donald Trump’s false claims that there was widespread fraud. Three vote counts, both by machine and by hand, showed that Democrat Joe Biden won Georgia by about 12,000 votes. Republicans declined to participate in the hearing and instead shaped their own narrative about Georgia’s voting law.

Full Article: U.S. Senate field hearing in Georgia seeks momentum for election bills

Michigan sheriff enlists private eye to grill clerks in vote fraud probe | Jonathan Oosting/Bridge Michigan

A Michigan sheriff investigating the 2020 election is using a private investigator to question clerks, an unorthodox arrangement that baffles local officials in a region former President Donald Trump dominated last fall. Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, a Republican who plotted to seize voting machines after the November election and was in communication with allies to Trump at the time, is now working with a private investigator named Michael Lynch, a former security official for DTE Energy in Detroit. Leaf did not answer calls or respond to a text message from Bridge Michigan. The Hastings Banner newspaper reported that the sheriff said Lynch was recommended to him by Stefanie Lambert Junttila, a Detroit-area attorney facing potential sanctions related to the “Kraken” lawsuit that sought to overturn President Joe Biden’s election win. Lynch and a sheriff’s deputy have visited at least six township clerks, according to Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer, a Republican who criticized what she called a secretive investigation that has frightened local officials. “I was told by my clerks that they were told not to say anything to each other or to me,” Palmer recalled. “So I don’t know what (Leaf and his team) are trying to hide. I’m told by the investigator that they’re doing this under the element of surprise.”

Full Article: Michigan sheriff enlists private eye to grill clerks in vote fraud probe | Bridge Michigan

Michigan: Attorney appeals dismissal decision in Antrim County election lawsuit | Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle

An attorney for a local man who accused Antrim County of voter fraud is appealing a judge’s dismissal of an election-related lawsuit, records filed in 13th Circuit Court show. Matthew DePerno, who on Thursday announced his candidacy for Michigan Attorney General, filed the claim of appeal Wednesday on behalf of Bill Bailey, of Central Lake Township. Bailey filed suit Nov. 23, accusing the county of voter fraud and of violating his constitutional rights, after initial results of the 2020 Presidential election showed about 2,000 votes cast for then-President Donald Trump had mistakenly been assigned to then-challenger Joe Biden. Bailey acknowledged her office’s human error, an assertion backed by the state’s Senate Oversight Committee, which last month released a 55-page report rejecting claims of widespread election fraud in Antrim County and in Michigan. Bailey also accused the county of diluting his vote, after a marijuana proposal, allowing a single dispensary in the Village of Central Lake passed by a single vote. Records show Bailey is registered to vote in Central Lake Township, and only voters registered in the Village of Central Lake received ballots which included the marijuana proposal.

Source: Attorney appeals dismissal decision in Antrim election lawsuit | News | record-eagle.com

North Carolina GOP 2020 election audit plan focuses on voting machines | Will Doran/Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina Republican politicians hoping to conduct their own audit of the 2020 elections don’t want to resort to legal action to try to force the State Board of Elections to let them have their way, they said Thursday. The lawmakers could try to force their will on elections officials by issuing subpoenas, for instance. But Rep. Keith Kidwell, a Beaufort County Republican who leads the far-right Freedom Caucus in the N.C. House of Representatives, said he’d rather not. “We honestly don’t want to have to go that route,” he said. “I think a spirit of cooperation is all we seek.” The News & Observer reported Wednesday that state elections officials, behind the scenes, have been blocking the Freedom Caucus in its efforts to take apart voting machines that were used last year. Caucus members want to look for illegal, internet-connected modems that may have been inserted into the machines to let someone remotely change vote counts. But they also admit they have no evidence that any such modems exist. “I’m very hopeful and very confident that there’ll be nothing,” Kidwell said. But now that the elections board won’t let them open the machines, Kidwell and the Freedom Caucus have begun questioning whether state elections director Karen Brinson Bell or others are trying to hide something. So on Thursday morning, they called a press conference.

Full Article: NC GOP 2020 election audit plan focuses on voting machines | Raleigh News & Observer

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia sees $40 million in possible costs from Trump ally’s election probe | Nathan Layne/Reuters

Philadelphia could face $40 million in costs to replace voting machines if forced to comply with a “forensic investigation” into the 2020 election launched by a Republican state lawmaker and ally of former President Donald Trump, a city commissioner told Reuters. The estimate by Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, highlights the potential burden on taxpayers from state Senator Doug Mastriano’s attempt to gain access to election equipment from Philadelphia and at least two other counties for inspections, similar to costs that have arisen out of a contentious Republican-led audit of the vote in Arizona. After Mastriano announced his probe last week, the Pennsylvania Department of State issued a directive to the state’s 67 counties warning it would decertify any equipment handed over to third parties because the chain of custody would be broken.  Democratic President Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by about 81,000 votes, four years after Trump’s victory there helped propel the Republican to the presidency. Republicans in Pennsylvania and other swing states won by Biden have pursued audits of the November election, repeating Trump’s baseless claims that widespread fraud cost him a second White House term. Schmidt, who has repeatedly defended the integrity of the vote count in heavily Democratic-leaning Philadelphia, said Mastriano’s request for a wide array of equipment could force the city to replace some $30 million worth of voting machines and an additional $10 million in central programming and tabulation equipment. “We just got all our new voting equipment in 2019, so replacing it would be very expensive for taxpayers,” Schmidt said on Monday.

Full Article: Philadelphia sees $40 mln in possible costs from Trump ally’s election probe | Reuters

In Texas, Efforts To Make Voting Harder Has Some Worried In Harris County | Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media

Texas already has some of the strictest voting laws in the country, and the state’s Republicans are trying to make them even tougher. Most of the state’s Democratic lawmakers have flown to Washington, D.C., to prevent a vote on legislation they call voter suppression. The center of the battle is Harris County, where Houston is located. The county is home to more than 4.7 million people, a larger population than the state of Louisiana. Last year, Harris County introduced an array of voting innovations to make it easier and safer to vote during the presidential elections. They included drive-thru voting, expanded voting hours – with one day of 24-hour voting – and sending out mail-in ballot applications to all eligible voters. Joy Davis is a stay-at-home mom and the mother of a young son with severe autism. She voted in a drive-thru location on the east side of Houston. “Oh, it was amazing,” Davis says. “It was so convenient. I felt safe, because it was at the highlight of the pandemic before I was able to get any vaccinations….When I arrived, it was just so simple, so easy, so effortless. We just pulled up, showed my ID, they directed us to a tent, and you know we met with the poll worker there, they gave us the machine so we could cast our ballot, and that was it. I cast my ballot.”

Full Article: In Texas, Efforts To Make Voting Harder Has Some Worried In Harris County – Houston Public Media

Texas Democrats may find themselves in the wilderness of wandering public attention | Ross Ramsey/The Texas Tribune

The spotlight won’t shine for long on the story of Texas’ flyaway Democrats. The novelty will wear off. The cable TV networks will have other top stories before you know it, and this will become another of those insider fights of only passing interest to Texans who don’t have regular business in the state Capitol. Voting rights are important to voters, but most people only pay attention to the particulars at election time. Where do I go? What do I have to do? Who and what is on the ballot? Who are all of these people, and which ones are in my way and which ones can I ignore? But the next big elections in Texas aren’t until March at the earliest — and those, the party primaries, could easily be delayed until May or later because of delays in the 2020 U.S. census, and the resulting delays in drawing new political maps to fit new details of where Texans live and how many of them live there. For now, it’s enough to know that the state government in Texas is dysfunctional, but not in a way that has any immediate effect on the lives of everyday Texans. That’s a particular problem for the wandering Democrats whose political play depends, to some extent, on public attention. They decamped on Monday, faced with the prospect of showing up to watch Republicans approve a bill with new restrictions on voting that they cannot abide.

Full Article: Analysis: Texas Democrats race against time, and flagging public attention | The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin: Experts warn against ‘sham audits’ movement | Darrell Ehrlick and Melanie Conklin/Wisconsin Examiner

Experts for three different organizations came together this week to discuss the latest in the undermining democracy trend: illegitimate election recounts. They warned that conspiracy theories, disinformation and outright lies can spread through more than just social media, undermining legitimate elections. Those spreading the disinformation also prey upon people who may not be familiar with the process of government, they warn. Officials from the Protect Democracy, Fair Fight Action and States United Action have launched a new website with toolkits to help people understand the differences between real election audits and “fake” or “sham” audits. All three groups agree that the audit taking in place in Arizona’s Maricopa County is not credible — because of the lack of experience of the company conducting it, the methods that are being used, and the lack of transparency. Experts who spoke as part of the panel also said that other auditing, recounting and canvassing done through the State of Arizona long ago proved the election’s legitimacy. The new website, Notanaudit.com, is the joint project of the three groups. They say the Arizona “audit” is just the beginning of what is likely going to be a growing trend that will pit career election officials against politicians and start-up companies claiming to be able to do forensic and large-scale audits. They warn that without better public education, people could become more confused and lose confidence in what is otherwise a very safe, secure and — above all — accurate election process. Moreover, the “spillover” effect from the recount in Arizona is giving some momentum to groups in Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin to begin audit election results that were certified and validated months ago. Four Wisconsin legislators were among Republicans from various states who took a field trip to Arizona to observe the ballot counting.

Source: Experts warn against ‘sham audits’ movement – Wisconsin Examiner