Editorial: Biden’s biggest worry: Can democracy prove it is worth saving? | Karen Tumulty/The Washington Post

There was a new tone in President Biden’s speech on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot in which a violent mob of Trump supporters sought to overturn the results of a legitimate presidential election. More forcefully than he had before, the current president took to task the man he had defeated for inciting cultlike followers to trash the U.S. Capitol, with deadly consequences. Donald Trump and those he stoked with his “web of lies” that the 2020 election was stolen from him “held a dagger at the throat of America — at American democracy,” Biden said. His 25-minute address was the muscular pushback that so many Democrats have been waiting to hear from Biden, who has generally — and wisely, in my view — preferred to ignore the predecessor he refers to as “the former guy.” What really preoccupies the president, however, was summed up in a quieter passage that came near the end of the speech, one that didn’t get as much notice. If there is a sweeping premise that defines what Biden views as the greatest challenge of his presidency, it is that the United States must disprove a growing cynicism about democracy itself — not just in this country, but around the world. Amid deep political polarization and an undermining of norms, the processes have become so messy and fraught that people are losing faith that democratic systems are still capable of functioning and of delivering results. “Look, folks, now it’s up to all of us — to ‘We the People’ — to stand for the rule of law, to preserve the flame of democracy, to keep the promise of America alive. That promise is at risk, targeted by the forces that value brute strength over the sanctity of democracy, fear over hope, personal gain over public good. Make no mistake about it: We’re living at an inflection point in history,” Biden said.

Full Article: Opinion | Biden’s biggest worry: Can democracy prove it is worth saving? – The Washington Post

National: How an ‘Ethical’ Hacker Convention Is Fueling Trump’s Big Lie | Spenser Mestel/Vice

Nineteen tables are spread across a ballroom the size of an Olympic swimming pool, each with its own set of voting machines. Hackers crowd around them, tinkering, unscrewing, and more or less destroying anything with a power button. This is the Voting Village at DEFCON, the annual “ethical hacker” conference in Las Vegas and one of the few places where pretty much anyone has permission to do whatever they please to equipment that would otherwise be locked away.  At the last in-person DEFCON, in 2019, well before “Stop the Steal,” the “audit” in Maricopa County, and the conspiracy theory that Nancy Pelosi’s husband owns one of the country’s largest voting machine manufacturers, attendees packed the village. Now, two years later, the issue has become even more of a national obsession.  DEFCON is a meeting place for the different stakeholders in the world of cybersecurity: grungy hackers, nerdy academics, security researchers, election officials, voting machine manufacturers, and representatives from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the federal agency whose security guidelines nearly every state relies on to some extent. For a few days, DEFCON enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists gather together and race to see who can prove voting machines are insecure. With its made-to-be-shared antics, the village regularly produces viral tweets and national headlines. It also has quick impact: Following demonstrations at the convention in 2017, Virginia’s Department of Elections recommended decertifying some of its machines effective immediately. “Multiple types of DREs, some of which are currently in use in Virginia, were hacked, according to public reports from DefCon,” the agency wrote.

Full Article: How an ‘Ethical’ Hacker Convention Is Fueling Trump’s Big Lie

National: Secretary of state races come under red-hot focus | Julia Manchester/The Hill

Republicans and Democrats are increasingly setting their sights on installing their candidates in top election posts across the country as the issue of voting rights takes center stage in Washington. The focus is likely to turn secretary of state races across the country into high-profile battles as both parties see the power the position has over election practices as critical. Republicans are pushing the issue of election integrity, while Democrats are seeking to roll back voting restrictions. And both parties are bringing cash to the fight. The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which handles secretary of state races among other state-level contents, and its strategic policy partner, the State Government Leadership Foundation, raised a record $14.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, bringing the groups’ annual total to $33.3 million in the off-election year. “National liberals are ramping up their investments in secretary of state races because they see control of these offices as a way to change the rules to compensate for their inability to win elections with their failed socialist agenda,” said RSLC communications director Andrew Romeo. “The RSLC is focused on continuing to accelerate our fundraising efforts so we can stop them,” he added. On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (DASS) raked in $1 million during the first six months of 2021, a marked improvement from raising $202,000 in the first half of 2019, according to a report released on Wednesday from the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice.

Full Article: Secretary of state races come under red-hot focus | TheHill

National Archives received forged letters from Arizona and Michigan claiming Trump won election, report says | Gustaf Kilander/The Independent

The National Archives received fake certificates of ascertainment that then-President Donald Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence had won Michigan and Arizona in the 2020 election, according to a report. The secretaries of state in those states have passed along the forgeries to the House Select Committee investigating 6 January, Politico reported. Communications between state officials and the National Archives have also been shared with the panel. Democratic secretaries of state Jocelyn Benson of Michigan and Katie Hobbs of Arizona met with the committee in November. “They mostly discussed election administration in Arizona, the 2020 elections, threats/harassment directed toward the office, and the Cyber Ninja’s partisan ballot review,” Murphy Hebert, a spokesperson for Ms Hobbs, told Politico. Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Ms Benson, told the outlet that she and her staff answered the committee’s questions about the 2020 election and events in the run-up to the Capitol riot on 6 January 2021.

Full Article: National Archives received forged letters from Arizona and Michigan claiming Trump won election, report says | The Independent

National: Biden will endorse changing Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation | Katie Rogers/The New York Times

President Biden will endorse changing Senate rules to pass new voting rights protections during a speech in Atlanta on Tuesday, the most significant step he will have taken to pressure lawmakers to act on an issue he has called the biggest test of America’s democracy since the Civil War. Mr. Biden will not go so far as to call for full-scale elimination of the filibuster, a Senate tradition that allows the minority party to kill legislation that fails to garner 60 votes, according to a senior administration official who previewed the speech. But Mr. Biden will say he supports a filibuster “carve-out” in the case of voting rights, the official said. Citing “repeated obstruction” by Republicans, Mr. Biden will endorse changing the Senate rules, the official said. The president will contend that the filibuster has protected “extreme attacks on the most basic constitutional right.” “This is one of those defining moments,” Mr. Biden told reporters on Tuesday, before departing for Georgia. “People are going to be judged, where were they before and where were they after the vote. History is going to judge this. And so the risk is making sure people understand just how important this is.”

Full Article: Biden to Endorse Changing Filibuster to Pass Voting Rights Laws – The New York Times

National: Schumer sets up final Senate confrontation on voting rights and the filibuster | Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer prepared Democrats on Wednesday for the final phase of a year-long push to pass voting rights legislation, sketching out legislative maneuvers that could launch debate on a pair of stalled bills and force a confrontation over the Senate’s rules in the coming days. The details of the next steps, laid out in a memo that Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent to colleagues Wednesday afternoon, comes as President Biden has launched his own aggressive push to convince his fellow Democrats to band together and overhaul the filibuster — the long-standing Senate rule requiring a 60-vote supermajority — in order to overcome strict GOP opposition to voting rights bills. Biden made that case publicly in an address he delivered in Atlanta on Tuesday, when he said the Senate “has been rendered a shell of its former self” and compared the present Republican opposition to the blockades mounted against civil rights bills in the Jim Crow era. He is scheduled to visit a Senate Democratic lunch Thursday in order to press his case directly with lawmakers. In the memo, Schumer announced his intention to use existing rules to jump-start debate on the voting bills by having the House amend an existing, unrelated bill dealing with NASA and sending it back to the Senate as soon as Wednesday night. Starting debate under those circumstances requires only a simple majority of 51 votes — not a 60-vote supermajority.

Full Article: Schumer details Senate voting rights path – The Washington Post

National: GOP push for hand-counting paper ballots is latest effort to cast doubt on elections | Kelly Mena/CNN

After more than a year of baselessly questioning the results of the 2020 election, some Republicans are casting doubt on how ballots are counted, part of a broader movement inspired by former President Donald Trump’s lies about election fraud that is undermining confidence in America’s vote. In at least three states — Utah, New Hampshire and Texas — Republicans have pushed for banning traditional ballot scanning machines in favor of hand-counting paper ballots, an antiquated process that experts fear could inject error into an election system where very little has been found. Critics also worry that the inevitable delay in results from hand counting would be an opportunity for those looking to sow doubt about the outcome of future contests. Republicans have already seized on Trump’s unfounded claims to launch partisan audits and enact restrictive voting laws ahead of this year’s midterms. And now they’re targeting the tabulation of votes by suggesting, without evidence, that there’s a problem — even in places where Trump or down-ballot Republicans won in 2020. One GOP county chair in Texas, for example, said he has “concerns” about the election, even though Trump won the Lone Star State by more than 630,000 votes, and there’s no evidence that fraud or irregularities influenced results there or anywhere else.

Full Article: GOP push for hand-counting paper ballots is latest effort to cast doubt on elections – CNNPolitics

National: Big bucks flow into state races for election officials | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Candidates for top election official in battleground states are raking in an unusual amount of cash compared to previous years, according to a new report. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found in an analysis released Wednesday that campaign contributions for election administrator contests are surging in some of the states that played key roles in the 2020 presidential election. In three battleground states with available fundraising data — Georgia, Michigan and Minnesota — candidates for secretary of state have raised 2½ times more than at the same point in the previous two election cycles. The figures underscore how once-overlooked races are now deeply partisan contests, in large part because of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud in 2020. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin all have elections for secretary of state this year, and voter fraud claims and conspiracy theories are playing roles in each. “These have traditionally been sleepy bureaucratic races that no one’s heard of, and we’re seeing much more attention being paid to them and this feeling that the stakes are higher,” said Ian Vandewalker, a co-author of the report. “Candidates on both sides are saying democracy is at stake if I win or lose — it’s pretty much unheard of in our lifetimes.”

Full Article: Big bucks flow into state races for election officials

Editorial: Democracy is on the brink of disaster. For voters, it’s politics as usual. | Sam Rosenfeld/The Washington Post

It was the scariest of times, it was the stablest of times. Contemporary American politics offers an unsettling study in contrasts. On the one hand, Donald Trump’s lies about a stolen presidential election in 2020 and his attempts to undo the results of that contest, culminating in the violent storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, provide blaring warning signs that our democratic system is in peril. Far from turning on Trump, a large portion of his party has continued his project: In 2021, Republican state legislatures passed new restrictions on voting access while attempting to seize control of the levers of election administration; meanwhile, GOP congressional leaders moved to isolate Republican lawmakers most critical of Trump’s conduct and claims. And the House’s Jan. 6 committee continues to unearth evidence that Republican House members schemed with the White House to overturn the election. Worries about the state of American democracy didn’t begin when Trump rejected the election’s results — indeed, they predate his entrance into politics. For the last two decades, analysts have connected dysfunction in governance to deepening party polarization, marked by an asymmetrical Republican shift toward procedural hardball and extremism. Trump’s rise both extended and accelerated a disturbing trend. When he trafficked in authoritarian rhetoric and brazenly mixed personal and public power — while steadily consolidating the loyalty of his party — analysts portrayed it as a lesson in “How Democracies Die” and “How to Lose a Constitutional Democracy.” As nearly 200 scholars with relevant expertise warned last summer: “Our entire democracy is now at risk.”

Full Article: Democracy is on the brink of disaster. For voters, it’s politics as usual. – The Washington Post

Arizona: Cyber Ninjas, firm that led ballot review, is closed | Derek Gilliam/Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The CEO of the Florida cybersecurity company that conducted a highly contested election review in Arizona confirmed Friday that his company has closed and laid off its employees. News of the closure had reached Arizona on Thursday shortly before a judge issued an order finding the company in contempt of court and imposing a fine of $50,000 a day for its failure to produce records requested by The Arizona Republic. Company founder Doug Logan on Friday confirmed the shutdown to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, but said it wasn’t because of the fines, pointing instead to cash flow issues. He notified the remaining four employees — down from eight when the audit started last year in Maricopa County — of the decision to close the business the first week of December. “Yes, we closed our doors and laid off our employees,” he said. “No. It did not have anything to do with what happened yesterday.” The employees were laid off Jan. 1 and will have health insurance through the month, he said. Part of Cyber Ninjas’ cash flow problems, Logan said, stemmed from the Arizona Senate not adhering to the contract signed when it hired the company to conduct the audit. Logan said the company was never fully paid for the audit, nor did the Senate indemnify the company as was required by the company’s contract.

Full Article: Cyber Ninjas, firm that led Arizona ballot review, is closed

Colorado: Mesa County grand jury will investigate allegations of official misconduct, tampering with election equipment | Stephanie Butzer and Blair Miller/Denver Channel

A Mesa County grand jury will investigate the allegations of official misconduct and tampering with county election equipment amid an ongoing investigation into accusations that an elections clerk was involved in a security breach of the equipment in 2021. The 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office made the announcement early Thursday morning. The county made national headlines in 2021 after security information from the county’s voting machines was leaked to a right wing website. According to the investigation as of late December, investigators say Mesa’s Clerk and Recorder, Republican Tina Peters, let an unauthorized person access the voting machines. That person was also present for a secure software system update. In the announcement Thursday morning, Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said the grand jury investigation will be “thorough and guided by the facts and the law.” Their statement did not name anybody in particular.

Full Article: Mesa County grand jury will investigate allegations of official misconduct, tampering with election equipment

Georgia: Fox News, others seek access to report on voting machines | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

In defending itself against a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, Fox News is seeking access to an expert report filed under seal in a separate Georgia lawsuit that the author says details vulnerabilities in the company’s touchscreen voting machines. Election security expert J. Alex Halderman spent 12 weeks examining the voting machines used in Georgia and more than a dozen other states and said he identified “multiple severe security flaws” in the machines that would allow attackers to install malicious software. His report was filed in federal court in Atlanta in July in support of a long-running lawsuit filed by election security advocates and voters who want Georgia to scrap the electronic voting machines in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. Dominion in March filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News in Delaware, where both companies are incorporated, arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election. A judge last month rejected Fox’s motion to dismiss the suit. The lawsuit cites Halderman, saying he “told Fox explicitly, ‘There is absolutely no evidence, none, that Dominion Voting Machines changed any votes in this election.’”

Full Article: Fox News, others seek access to report on voting machines | AP News

Indiana looks to require voting machines with paper ballot backups by 2024 | Margaret Menge/Princeton Daily Clarion

The Indiana General Assembly recently passed a bill out of that requires all counties in the state to have voting machines with at least some paper ballot backups by July 1, 2024. State law now says counties have until Dec. 31, 2029 to replace voting machines with no paper backup, and the Republican supermajority in the Indiana General Assembly has resisted calls to move this up to an earlier date, until now. House Bill 1116 requires counties using Direct Recording Electronic device (DREs) machine that has no paper ballot backups will either have to replace them or make sure that they have attachments called Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail [VVPAT] printers for at least 10% of all voting machines by July 1, 2024. The bill says the “audit trail” or paper ballot that is produced by the voting machine must include the following information: the name or code of the election; the date of the election; the date the audit trail [paper ballot] was printed; a security code and record number specific to each paper receipt assigned by the voting system; the name or designation of the voter’s precinct; the name or designation of each office on the voter’s ballot; the name of the candidate and the designation of the candidate’s political party selected by the voter; if the voter selects a straight-party ticket, the name of the political party the voter selected and a description of the text of any public question or judicial retention question and the response the voter selected.

Full Article: Indiana looks to require voting machines with paper ballot backups by 2024 | State | pdclarion.com

Maine: Harsher punishment sought for those who threaten election workers | Randy Billings/Portland Press Herald

Municipal clerks who oversee local, state and federal elections asked Maine lawmakers Wednesday to make it a felony to harass, threaten or intimidate election workers. But the measure is being opposed by some who say incarcerating more people is not the answer. Clerks said they have noticed higher tensions and more confrontations with angry and misinformed voters, and the situation is making it harder to find poll workers. State officials said they have received two reports of threats against election workers since the 2020 presidential election, which some Republicans have falsely claimed was rigged and rife with voter fraud. Details about specific incidents were not made available, but Waterville City Clerk Patti Dubois said election workers are experiencing increased hostility and threats, both in person at polling locations and online through social media. “Being on the receiving end of a voter’s profanity-laced rants (is) commonplace now,” Dubois said. “At least one clerk in Maine has received a credible death threat from a voter. Technology has made it unbelievably easy for misinformed citizens to threaten election officials. Email, voicemail and social media are platforms easily used that allow a degree of anonymity. We cannot become desensitized to this disturbing trend.”

Full Article: Harsher punishment sought for those who threaten election workers in Maine – Portland Press Herald

Michigan: ‘Forensic audit’ in largest pro-Trump county finds no evidence of election interference | Malachi Barrett/Mlive

“forensic audit” of election equipment in the largest Michigan county won by former President Donald Trump found no evidence of outside interference in the 2020 election. Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini released the results of an independent investigation into the county’s voting software on Jan. 5, a day before the one-year anniversary of a riot in Washington, D.C. aimed at overturning the 2020 election. Michigan Republicans waged an unsuccessful year-long campaign to compel similar a “forensic audit” of the statewide election based on unproven allegations of interference in voting machines. “I’m very comfortable saying that the software and the tabulators work the way they were supposed to,” Forlini said. The Macomb County audit found no evidence of “malicious internet connectivity,” no evidence of file manipulation and no evidence of unauthorized software in the county’s election servers. Forlini said the audit disproved a popular theory that election machines could be tampered with through the internet. Forlini was elected in 2020 and said he immediately faced questions about election fraud after he took office in January 2021. Forlini said he sought the audit to answer those questions since he did not administer the 2020 election personally. “There is no agenda in my head up front, and I think that’s important because some people have agendas,” Forlini said. “I had no agenda, other than the truth.”

Full Article: ‘Forensic audit’ in Michigan’s largest pro-Trump county finds no evidence of election interference – mlive.com

Pennsylvania court declines request to quash Senate GOP election investigation subpoena, needs more time for review | Marley Parrish/Pennsylvania Capital-Star

The legislative subpoena issued as part of the taxpayer-funded election investigation is on hold, following a Monday Commonwealth Court decision to take more time to evaluate a Senate panel’s request for millions of voters’ driver’s license numbers and partial Social Security numbers. That means the legal request, issued by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee in a September vote along party lines, is delayed as the case enters into a fact-finding hearing with discovery and witness testimony. The unsigned, 7-page order comes nearly a month after a panel of five judges heard arguments in the case brought by legislative Democrats and Attorney General Josh Shapiro to challenge the review of the 2020 general and 2021 primary elections. They have also raised concerns that Envoy Sage, LLC, an Iowa-based company selected for the investigation, has not outlined specific security measures and has no direct election-related experience. The Commonwealth Court said that it could not conclude that challengers affirmed “a clear, legal right to quash the subpoena” by arguing that the seldom-used Senate panel does not have the legislative power to request voters’ identifying information. The court also wrote that there is “substantial factual question surrounding the federal protection requirements and the capability of the Senate committee’s contracted vendor, Envoy Sage, LLC, to protect the infrastructure information.” Most of the requested information is publicly available. State law, however, prohibits the public release of someone’s driver’s license number and Social Security number.

Full Article: Pa. court declines request to quash Senate GOP election investigation subpoena, needs more time for review – Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Tennessee lawmaker favors mirroring Georgia’s statewide voting system | Asia Ashley/The News Courier

A Tennessee state representative says he wants to instill more “confidence” in the state’s elections by implementing an electronic system similar to that used in Georgia since 2020. Initially, Republican Rep. Bruce Griffey filed a bill Dec. 29 to only allow votes to be cast by paper ballots statewide. According to the bill, HB 1662, ballots could only be hand-marked and must be counted using an electronic optical ballot scanner. However, Griffey said Monday he plans to re-draft the bill after speaking with Hardin County elections representatives about the county’s two-step voting verification process, which is similar to one used in Georgia. Georgia’s voting machines were purchased from Dominion Voting which drew the ire of President Donald Trump loyalists who falsely claimed the Georgia presidential election was “rigged,” despite the fact November 2020 results were re-certified and have been verified by two statewide audits and two recounts. John White, Hardin County, Tennessee, election commission chair, said its voting system — manufactured by Election Systems & Software — allows voters to make selections for each race via a touch screen computer. Once a voter confirms the selection, the ballot with the voter’s selections is printed on paper.

Full Article: Tennessee lawmaker favors mirroring Georgia’s statewide voting system | News | enewscourier.com

Wisconsin election commissioners balk at GOP data request | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

Members of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission balked Tuesday at a massive request for voter data and other information by six Republican state lawmakers but did not order the request —deemed “insane” by one commissioner — be denied. Instead, the commission said the lawmakers should be told how much it would cost, how long it would take, and what information can’t be provided. Meagan Wolfe, the state’s top elections official, told commissioners it was “the most broad request we’ve ever seen.” Democratic commissioners said the Dec. 22 request was designed to grind operations at the elections commission to a halt, and frustrate and overwhelm those who work for the nonpartisan agency that is overseen by a bipartisan board. The request came from Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chair of the Assembly elections committee, and five other Republicans. They have been leading voices in questioning President Joe Biden’s win in Wisconsin, pushing conspiracy theories about the election and how it was run in the state. Some Republicans have even called for members of the commission to resign and be charged with felonies.

Full Article: Wisconsin election commissioners balk at GOP data request | AP News

National: The Unsung Heroes of the 2020 Presidential Election | Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague/The New York Times

On Nov. 23, 2020, Aaron Van Langevelde, a little-known 40-year-old Republican, did something routine, but — in the Trump era — something also heroic: He helped stop a plot to overturn the presidential election. As a member of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, Van Langevelde calmly and modestly voted to certify the results of the election to reflect the will of the voters, not the candidate his party preferred. He did it without rhetorical flourish. He did it despite tremendous pressure from President Donald J. Trump and his allies, who were pushing lies and disinformation to undermine the outcome. “John Adams once said, ‘We are a government of laws, not men,’” Van Langevelde said in a brief speech that would make him a villain of the far right and lead to his ouster from the board. “This board needs to adhere to that principle here today.” Scenes like this played out across the country: in Wisconsin, where Rohn Bishop, the Republican Party chair in Fond du Lac, stood up to Trumpian lies; in Arizona, where Clint Hickman, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, ducked the president’s phone calls; in Pennsylvania, where Valerie Biancaniello, a Republican activist and Trump campaign head in Delaware County, demanded evidence instead of conspiracies. The unheralded and mostly unknown Republicans active in local politics who refused to go along with Trump’s lies — and played a key role in preserving American democracy — are the main subject of “The Steal,” by the journalists Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague. At 230 pages of text, their book is a lean, fast-paced and important account of the chaotic final weeks of the Trump administration.

Full Article: The Unsung Heroes of the 2020 Presidential Election – The New York Times

National: Trump allies planned harassment and intimidation campaign against election officials and ‘weak’ House members, documents show | Andrew Feinberg/The Independent

Allies of former president Donald Trump planned a campaign of harassment and intimidation against election officials and “weak” Republicans that was to culminate in what would become the worst attack on the US Capitol since the Burning of Washington in 1814, according to new documents provided to Congress. The Trump team’s strategy was revealed in documents provided to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol by Bernard Kerik, the disgraced ex-New York City police commissioner who spent the days and weeks following the 2020 presidential election promoting baseless claims of election fraud in hopes of dissuading state officials – and later Congress – from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory over Mr Trump. Mr Kerik, a convicted felon who received a presidential pardon from Mr Trump in February 2018, received a subpoena from the select committee demanding that he produce documents and give evidence concerning his involvement in “efforts to promote false claims of election fraud or overturn the results of the 2020 election” and promotion of “baseless litigation and ‘Stop the Steal’ efforts” on 5 November. Although many of Mr Trump’s associates have refused to cooperate with the select committee’s efforts, Mr Kerik has not showed the same level of defiance that has left two Trump allies – ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon – facing the possibility of criminal convictions for contempt of Congress.

Full Article: Trump allies planned harassment and intimidation campaign against election officials and ‘weak’ House members, documents show | The Independent

National: They Helped Save Democracy — and Are Being Tormented for It | Andy Kroll/Rolling Stone

Adrian Fontes never thought he would need to draw on his training as a Marine in his job as a top election officer for Maricopa County, Arizona. Yet there he was in late 2020, meeting with members of the sheriff’s department and other law-enforcement agencies about establishing a secure perimeter around the building where Fontes’ staff was counting ballots. “We worried about an invasion into the building,” he says. For several days in a row after the 2020 election, hundreds of pro-Trump protesters massed outside the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, where Fontes and his team worked. Chants of “stop the steal” rang out day and night. At one point, notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones joined the crowd and yelled into a megaphone, “Resistance is victory!” Other protesters dressed in tactical gear and carried firearms. Fontes taught a marksmanship course in the Marines, and so he felt a chill when he recognized the weapons in the crowd. The rifles weren’t all that different from the one he carried in the military. He and his family packed “go-bags” in case they needed to leave their home on short notice. They found back-up housing in case they needed to stay somewhere long-term. On one occasion, his children evacuated for several days. All the while, Fontes says, he, his employees, and a team of volunteers continued to count all 2.1 million ballots cast in the election. “We refused to allow these protesters to potentially disenfranchise Maricopa County voters,” he later said in testimony before Congress.

Full Article: A Year After Jan. 6, Heroes of the 2020 Election Are Still Haunted – Rolling Stone

National: GOP election reviews face battleground state legal tests | Zach Montellaro/Politico

Republicans running partisan reviews of the 2020 election results and Democrats trying to stop them are barreling toward court showdowns in two key swing states in the coming weeks. Nearly a year after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Republican-led legislative chambers in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are still forging ahead with investigations similar to earlier efforts in states such as Arizona — which were sharply criticized by election experts — looking for evidence of fraud or other malfeasance in the 2020 vote. Now, an initial round of rulings and new court dates in lawsuits challenging the reviews is coming up, with Democrats and election experts hoping they will halt the drive by Republican lawmakers to revisit the results. Investigations in other states, most recently Texas, have failed to turn up evidence of serious issues. And election experts have long warned that the reviews — which supporters often call “audits,” a term professional election administrators and experts have rejected — are a political vehicle for former President Donald Trump and his followers to launder their conspiratorial beliefs about his 2020 loss into the mainstream under the guise of government investigation.

Full Article: GOP election reviews face battleground state legal tests – POLITICO

National: Here’s where election-denying candidates are running to control voting | Miles Parks/NPR

Mark Finchem was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He says he didn’t go inside, but he snapped some photos of people who did. “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud. #stopthesteal,” he tweeted. The Arizona state representative was there to share what he called “evidence” of an “irredeemably compromised” 2020 election with Republican lawmakers from his home state of Arizona. To be clear, Republican election officials in the state deemed the results “free, fair, and accurate” and even a discredited GOP-led “audit” run in the state’s largest county agreed Biden won. More recently, Finchem also appeared at a QAnon conference, and in speaking with NPR declined to describe what happened at the Capitol as a riot or an insurrection, instead making allusions to some sort of conspiracy involving law enforcement. Now, he is running to oversee voting in Arizona in 2022. And he’s not alone. An NPR analysis of 2022 secretary of state races across the country found at least 15 Republican candidates running who question the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 win, even though no evidence of widespread fraud has been uncovered about the race over the last 14 months. In fact, claims of any sort of fraud that swung the election have been explicitly refuted in state after state, including those run by Republicans.

Full Article: Here’s where election-denying candidates are running to control voting : NPR

National: States prepare for new round of voting wars as midterms approach | Reid Wilson/The Hill

State legislatures will begin debating changes to voting rights and election administration laws in the coming days after an unprecedented wave of reforms passed in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. At least 74 such measures have been pre-filed in 11 states, according to a count maintained by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. Of those, 13 measures filed in four states would restrict access to the ballot. That’s in addition to dozens of bills that would restrict or expand voting rights, or change the way elections are run, that were proposed last year and will carry over into the legislative sessions set to begin this week, including 88 bills across nine states the Brennan Center counted as “restrictive.” “There’s a lot more attention on election law,” said Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R), who has sponsored election-related bills in recent years. “It’s not a game. It’s serious, and when you change something, especially in election law, it has significant ramifications and its ripple effect is felt far and wide.”

Full Article: States prepare for new round of voting wars as midterms approach | TheHill

National: At the Capitol on Jan. 6, a Day of Remembrance and Division | Katie Rogers/The New York Times

This anniversary of Jan. 6 marked a turning point for President Biden, who for much of his first year in office avoided direct confrontation with his predecessor, Donald J. Trump. On Thursday, Mr. Biden took deliberate aim at Mr. Trump, assailing him for watching television as the attacks unfolded, spreading a lie that the 2020 election was rigged, and holding “a dagger at the throat of America” when he encouraged his supporters to attack the United States Capitol. But Mr. Biden held on to one vestige from the past year: He still refused to call Mr. Trump by name. As president-elect in November 2020, Mr. Biden and his staff proceeded with the transition process by treating Mr. Trump’s attempts to reverse the election as little more than histrionics. The calculation made back then by Mr. Biden and his advisers was that America was simply ready to move on, but on Thursday, the president was more willing than usual to address Mr. Trump’s claims, calling him a loser in the process. “He’s not just a former president. He’s a defeated former president — defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election,” Mr. Biden said. “There is simply zero proof the election results were inaccurate.”

Full Article: At the Capitol on Jan. 6, a Day of Remembrance and Division – The New York Times

National: GOP floats tweaks to vote counting law targeted by Trump as Democrats make voting rights push | Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim/The Washington Post

Ahead of the first anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, several Senate Republicans said they were open to overhauling the presidential vote certification procedure in Congress that was targeted by former president Donald Trump and allies as they sought to overturn his 2020 election loss. That procedure was interrupted on Jan. 6, 2021, by violent pro-Trump rioters who breached the Capitol as Republican challenges to electoral votes were being debated in the House and Senate. Only early the next morning was the process completed, after lawmakers voted to reject objections to two states’ electoral tallies and certify Joe Biden as the election’s winner. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that changes to Electoral Count Act, the 1887 law governing the congressional certification process, were “worth discussing,” while several other GOP senators said they were interested in clarifying ambiguous provisions in the statute and potentially raising the threshold for a challenge to a state’s electoral results.

Full Article: Ahead of Jan. 6, Republicans float tweaks to vote counting law Trump targeted in effort to deny Biden the presidency – The Washington Post

Editorial: It’s Time for Democrats to Break the Glass – Defending Democracy Is No Longer Popular Within the GOP | Ronald Brownstein/The Atlantic

The next few weeks will likely answer the most crucial question that emerged from last year’s insurrection by supporters of Donald Trump: Can one political party defend American democracy on its own? In the days after the January 6 attack, it appeared possible that many Republicans would join Democrats in a cross-party coalition to defend democracy against the autocratic threat. But instead, Trump has consolidated his control over the GOP, led a movement to purge Republican elected officials who resisted his unfounded claims of fraud, and solidified the belief among the party’s voters that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president. Rather than renouncing Trump’s discredited claims, his Republican allies have cited them to justify passing dozens of laws in multiple red states reducing access to the ballot and increasing partisan control over election administration and tabulation. Since the Capitol attack, nothing has shaped the ongoing struggle over the fate of American democracy more than this refusal by almost all elected Republicans—and such GOP constituencies as national business groups and social conservative organizations—to lock arms in a cross-party “popular front” or “grand alliance” to defend the basic rules of democratic society. “I think the succumbing of the Republican Party to the Big Lie just swamps everything else,” Bill Kristol, the longtime conservative strategist who has become a leader in the Republican opposition to Trump, told me. Although it was possible last January to believe that the GOP would “repudiate” Trump, Kristol said, his dominance endures. To Kristol, it’s hard to make the case that the Republican surrender to Trump’s antidemocratic impulses “is a passing cloud, even a very big and unpleasant cloud. It’s going to be part of the scene for a while,” he said.

Full Article: Defending Democracy Is No Longer Popular Within the GOP – The Atlantic

Editorial: Jan. 6 attack on multiracial democracy requires Senate to protect freedom to vote | Spencer Overton/The Hill

Last year’s assault on the U.S. Capitol is not over. While our nation grows more diverse each day, the attack on multiracial democracy continues today through schemes to suppress votes across the nation. In 2021, Georgia, Florida, Texas and 16 other states enacted 24 laws restricting access to voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The most popular restrictions make voter registration more difficult, expand opportunities to purge voters from the rolls, make it harder to vote by mail, limit early voting, reduce polling place availability and enact more restrictive photo ID requirements. Granted, these new voting restrictions are not as graphic as largely white insurrectionists parading Confederate flags and using violence to storm the Capitol in an attempt to overturn legitimate election results. However, we must not dismiss this wave of voting restrictions as typical partisan bickering over regulatory minutiae. The last 12 months alone accounted for one-third of restrictive state voting laws enacted in the last decade. Just like the Jan. 6 attack, the new voting restrictions seek to thwart the will of our diverse nation and are fueled by the false premise that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump.

Full Article: Jan. 6 attack on multiracial democracy requires Senate to protect freedom to vote | TheHill

Editorial: Fixing the Electoral Count Act is no substitute for real election reform | Fred Wertheimer and Norman Eisen/The Washington Post

With the Senate finally scheduling action to address the national epidemic of voter suppression and election hijacking laws, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others in his party have suddenly found an alternative election reform they are signaling they will consider instead. They suggest reforming the Electoral Count Act (ECA), the statute that guides congressional handling of presidential elections once every four years. We should not fall for this bait and switch. We strongly support ECA reforms — but they are no substitute for addressing the larger election assault that is hitting every voter in every election. Indeed, ECA reform is meaningless without a fix for those more fundamental problems. It’s not just McConnell who is suddenly open to election reform. Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) just announced that the GOP could consider ECA fixes. The otherwise anti-reform Wall Street Journal editorial page took the same line. On “Meet the Press,” conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg contended that reforming the ECA would mean “dealing with the real problem.” Pieces in other prominent publications have sung the same tune. And news has now emerged of bipartisan discussions of the topic. Some of these individuals point to the fact that ambiguities in the ECA may have contributed to chaos exactly one year ago on Jan. 6, 2021. They also say that there might be bipartisan willingness to address these problems, as opposed to what they claim to be a partisan Democratic drive to pass the more comprehensive voting reforms of other bills that would counter open suppression of minority votes and the many other worst excesses of hundreds of state legislative efforts across the land. Last year, state lawmakers considered 440 bills that would restrict the vote or give legislatures the power to disregard it entirely. In 19 states, 34 of those bills have become law. And there is no reason to believe that the onslaught will stop in 2022.

Full Article: Fixing the Electoral Count Act is no substitute for real election reform – The Washington Post

Arizona GOP officials in Maricopa County affirm 2020 election was secure in rebuttal to Trump claims | Rosalind S. Helderman(The Washington Post

The November 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county was administered properly and not marred by fraud, the Republican-led local government concluded in a lengthy report released Wednesday. The 93-page document debunks, one by one, vague allegations of potential problems previously identified by the GOP-led state Senate and championed by former president Donald Trump and his allies. County officials said the blunt rebuttal, released on the eve of the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was intended to highlight the ongoing dangers of unfounded claims of mass election fraud. “We have seen how people react when they think that an election has been stolen. They storm the U.S. Capitol. They threaten to kill and hang and shoot election workers. And they called other Americans traitors,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates (R) said Wednesday. “The American family cannot stand for that. I will not stand for that.”

Full Article: GOP officials in Arizona’s largest county affirm 2020 election was secure in rebuttal to Trump claims – The Washington Post