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

Florida: Insurrection’s toll evident a year later as fraud claims color political debate | Zac Anderson and Antonio Fins/Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop Joe Biden’s election victory from being certified, the rhetoric that led to the insurrection continues to reverberate in election offices across Florida and color the political debate in Trump’s home state. Florida had the most arrests stemming from Jan. 6 and the most members of two far right extremist groups arrested in connection with the insurrection, but there has been no effort to address extremism. Instead, Florida GOP leaders have worked to placate a Republican base inflamed by Trump’s unfounded election fraud claims, instituting new voting restrictions and likely pursuing other changes to election oversight this year. Trump continues to push the same rhetoric that drove his supporters to overrun the Capitol, and is likely to keep up his fraud drumbeat at a Jan. 15 rally in Florence, Arizona.

Full Article: Trump’s stolen election rhetoric putting pressure on Ron DeSantis, GOP

Georgia voting law wasn’t enough for Republican legislators | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In the aftermath of Georgia’s 2021 election changes, a fresh batch of Republican-backed bills could go even further in the upcoming legislative session. The election-year proposals would eliminate all remaining ballot drop boxes, discard the state’s recently purchased voting touchscreen machines, give the GBI authority to investigate voting fraud and create a constitutional amendment to prevent any future possibility that noncitizens could be allowed to vote. The tide of voting bills arrives as GOP legislators push beyond last year’s election overhaul following incumbent Republican Donald Trump’s narrow loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race. The sweeping law limited absentee voting drop boxes to early voting sites, required additional ID for absentee voting, allowed state takeovers of county elections and made many other changes. Voting rights groups warn that Republican legislators are seeking to limit voting access as a way to please constituents who believe false allegations that the 2020 election was stolen because Trump said it was.


Full Article: More Georgia election rules planned by Republican-led General Assembly

Maine secretary of state seeks to protect election officials, ballot and voting machine integrity | Phil Hirschkorn/WMTW

One year after the Capitol riot, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who oversees state elections, believes the nation’s democracy is living through a critical moment. “Because unfortunately, the events of January 6 were an attempt, a violent overthrow of the legitimate results of the election. What we have seen since are multiple efforts to threaten election workers,” Bellows said in an interview at the State House. Even in Maine, with one of the highest voter turnout rates and a reputation for smooth elections, in the past year, at least two election officials received credible threats to do them harm. In addition, Maine’s only incarcerated Capitol riot defendant, Kyle Fitzsimons, called Bellows’ office nine days after the riot. “I’m not gonna stop until I get the results and cleanliness I need in my government,” Fitzsimons told a staff member, according to the report filed with Maine State Police. Bellows said, “When you receive a call like that, you do not know how to differentiate between whether that person is actually then going to take physical action or not.”

Full Article: Maine secretary of state seeks to protect election officials

Michigan: Antrim County Tied to Election Fraud Claim Strategy | Mardi Link/The Traverse City Record-Eagle

Documents provided to a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol show misinformation about Antrim County’s election was part of a coordinated, nationwide strategy aimed at certifying the 2020 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.
A “Strategic Communications Plan” of the “Giuliani Presidential Legal Defense Team,” which includes the former president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, references debunked claims about Antrim County’s voting equipment as part of an effort to put pressure on Republican senators in six states — including Michigan — between Dec. 27, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, the Plan states. The other states listed are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, records show. The 22-page Communications Plan was provided Dec. 31 to members of the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, by an investigator hired by Trump’s post-election legal team. The release was in response to a Nov. 5 subpoena, records show. Bernard Kerik is a former New York City Police commissioner who, his attorney said in a Dec. 31 letter to the committee, was hired by Trump’s legal team as an investigator tasked with looking into claims of election fraud.

Full Article: Antrim County, Mich., Tied to Election Fraud Claim Strategy

Pennsylvania court asked to require accredited lab in GOP ‘investigation’ | Associated Press

Dominion Voting Systems has asked a court to restrict any inspection of its voting machines as part of what Republican lawmakers call a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election to a laboratory that has specific credentials. The Denver-based voting-system manufacturer filed paperwork in court Monday evening as Republican lawmakers move to inspect Dominion’s machines and software in southern Pennsylvania’s sparsely populated Fulton County using an unaccredited contractor that has no election experience. In its court papers, Dominion requested an order requiring that any inspection be conducted by a federally accredited voting system test lab or a national laboratory used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Fulton county heavily backed former President Donald Trump, whose baseless claims about election fraud in 2020′s presidential election have propelled various Republican endeavors to search for fraud in states Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

Full Article: Court asked to require accredited lab in GOP ‘investigation’ | AP News

Texas’ wasteful election audit leads to some easy predictions | Rick Casey/San Antonio Report

It may have been the last official act of 2021 by any Texas state official above the level of a state trooper. Secretary of State John Scott’s office on New Year’s Eve released findings from the first stage of the “forensic audit” of the 2020 election. It is an ancient tradition of political practice to release bad news at a time when it is least likely to cause ripples, and nothing fits that bill like New Year’s Eve. Not only are news organizations on holiday staffing, but who watches TV news on New Year’s Eve? For that matter, who is alertly reading the newspaper the next morning? What was the bad news? It was the good news that neither Russian hackers nor Venezuelan-based voting machine companies had manipulated or manufactured hundreds of thousands of Texans’ votes to elect Joe Biden president. It was hardly even news at all in that it is exactly what local officials had been saying for more than a year. But for conspiracy theorists it was, to say the least, disappointing. Perhaps the timing of the release was focused on one particular news consumer, a man who was presumed to be partying New Years Eve and golfing the next day at Mar-a-Lago.  Donald Trump has a special interest in the audit, which examined election data from four urban Texas counties: Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant. State officials announced the audit in September a few hours after he released a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott pushing for it despite the fact that Trump had carried Texas by nearly 6 points. Since Abbott had recently appointed Scott secretary of state, it’s safe to assume that the governor was involved in generating the audit. Abbott already had put on the agenda and signed into law a special session bill that mandates such audits after future elections.

Full Article: Texas’ wasteful election audit leads to some easy predictions

Wisconsin: Top Senate Republican opposes effort to ‘dismantle’ elections agency | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

The GOP leader of the state Senate said he does not support a major overhaul of the Wisconsin Elections Commission despite a push from some rank-and-file Republicans to dismantle the agency. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, also voiced support for Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, the outspoken chair of the Senate’s elections committee who has called for a swift end to an Assembly Republican investigation into the 2020 presidential election. Republicans created the Wisconsin Elections Commission in 2015 after they dismantled the Government Accountability Board, or GAB, that preceded it. The GAB came under fire from Republicans for its investigation into former GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign. Unlike the GAB, which was run by retired judges, the Elections Commission is run by a panel of three Republican and three Democratic appointees, a structure that has frequently led to 3-3 votes on high-profile disputes and issues. LeMahieu, who chaired the Senate’s election committee when the Legislature created the Elections Commission, said that while the 3-3 split can lead to gridlock, it also ensures that any guidance from the agency receives bipartisan support. “I think the Election Commission still might be a format that actually works,” LeMahieu said. “I would need to see a more superior way to do it before abandoning that.”

Full Article: Top Senate Republican opposes effort to ‘dismantle’ elections agency | Wisconsin Public Radio