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 |

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 –

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 |

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

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

Editorial: Our constitutional crisis is already here | Robert Kagan/The Washington Post

The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt: First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running. Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest. Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office.

Full Article: Opinion | Our constitutional crisis is already here – The Washington Post

‘Slow-motion insurrection’: How GOP seizes election power | Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

In the weeks leading up to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, a handful of Americans — well-known politicians, obscure local bureaucrats — stood up to block then-President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attempt to overturn a free and fair vote of the American people. In the year since, Trump-aligned Republicans have worked to clear the path for next time. In battleground states and beyond, Republicans are taking hold of the once-overlooked machinery of elections. While the effort is incomplete and uneven, outside experts on democracy and Democrats are sounding alarms, warning that the United States is witnessing a “slow-motion insurrection” with a better chance of success than Trump’s failed power grab last year. They point to a mounting list of evidence: Several candidates who deny Trump’s loss are running for offices that could have a key role in the election of the next president in 2024. In Michigan, the Republican Party is restocking members of obscure local boards that could block approval of an election. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislatures are backing open-ended “reviews” of the 2020 election, modeled on a deeply flawed look-back in ArizonaThe efforts are poised to fuel disinformation and anger about the 2020 results for years to come. All this comes as the Republican Party has become more aligned behind Trump, who has made denial of the 2020 results a litmus test for his support. Trump has praised the Jan. 6 rioters and backed primaries aimed at purging lawmakers who have crossed him. Sixteen GOP governors have signed laws making it more difficult to vote. An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll showed that two-thirds of Republicans do not believe Democrat Joe Biden was legitimately elected as president.

Full Article: ‘Slow-motion insurrection’: How GOP seizes election power | AP News

National: Election Officials Fight Voter Skepticism After Trump’s False Fraud Claims | Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

At a warehouse here in north central Florida, county elections supervisor Wesley Wilcox led some two dozen local business and community leaders around a cavernous room full of cordoned-off voting machines, stacks of paper to be turned into ballots, and rolls of “I Voted” stickers. Mr. Wilcox encouraged the group to ask questions about everything from the security of mail ballots to the use of voting machines. One man asked about how results are reported: “The results have to be downloaded here, I assume?” “Good question, because there’s a lot of misinformation going on about that right now,” said Mr. Wilcox, who has overseen the Republican-leaning county’s elections for nearly a decade. He said that each polling site prints out paper copies of the results, and poll workers physically bring the paper and a memory stick to the county office. “My tabulators in no way whatsoever are connected to the internet,” he said. Educational efforts like this have taken on a new urgency in Florida and around the country as many supporters of former Republican President Donald Trump continue to question his election defeat. As skepticism about the election system has spread, some election administrators like Mr. Wilcox worry that voters might give up on participating and lose confidence in America’s democracy. To be sure, it isn’t new for supporters of a losing candidate from either party to question election results. But polls show increasing polarization on whether voters trust the election system. In 2020, 22% of Republicans were confident that ballots were counted accurately nationwide, compared with 93% of Democrats, according to a survey by MIT researchers. That represented a bigger gap than in 2016, when 80% of Republicans had that confidence in the results, which showed that GOP presidential candidate Mr. Trump had won, compared with 69% of Democrats.

Full Article: Election Officials Fight Voter Skepticism After Trump’s False Fraud Claims – WSJ