National: Key local election officials in battleground states still face threats over a year after 2020 election | Adam Brewster/CBS

The year after a presidential election is normally slow for Claire Woodall-Vogg, the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission. There are local elections to administer, but the quieter schedule gives her a chance to start planning for the next big election year, organizing records and working on professional development. But 2021 wasn’t a traditional post-presidential election year. She and her colleagues have been dealing with new election law proposals in the Wisconsin Legislature and responding to mountains of record requests. And then there are also the threats that began after the 2020 election and kept coming, even after Joe Biden took the oath of office. “I have been told that I deserve to be hung in a public square,” Woodall-Vogg said. “I received a letter to my home calling me a traitorous c***.” At about 4 a.m. on the day after the election, the results from Milwaukee’s absentee votes catapulted then-candidate Joe Biden into the lead over former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin. Up until that hour, Mr. Biden was trailing Trump by about 107,000 votes. Like Woodall-Vogg, election workers around the country faced threats and pressure in the weeks following the November election, leading up to the attack at the Capitol on January 6, and continued afterward.

Full Article: Key local election officials in battleground states still face threats over a year after 2020 election – CBS News

National: Nearly a year after Jan. 6, US democracy remains perilously fragile | Tom Makaitis/The Hill

On Jan. 20, 2021, most Americans breathed a sigh of relief. President Biden’s inauguration went off without a hitch. Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the election had failed. Even conservative states attorneys, election officials and judges had rejected his spurious allegations of voter fraud. The FBI had arrested many of the terrorists who had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was aggressively pursuing the rest. Democracy itself seemed to be the big winner, and many of us believed politics was returning to normal. That hope proved forlorn. During the past year, Trump has doubled down on the “Big Lie,” the unfounded claim that he won the election. The myth that it was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud has become Republican orthodoxy, accepted by 56 percent of the party faithful. He has made accepting it a loyalty test in what is now his party. In May, Trump supporters formed the America Strong political action committee to target 10 house Republicans who voted to impeach the former president.

Full Article: Nearly a year after Jan. 6, US democracy remains perilously fragile | TheHill

National: U.S. Catches Kremlin Insider Who May Have Secrets of 2016 Hack | Henry Meyer, Irina Reznik, and Hugo Miller/Bloomberg

In the days before Christmas, U.S. officials in Boston unveiled insider trading charges against a Russian tech tycoon they had been pursuing for months. They accused Vladislav Klyushin, who’d been extradited from Switzerland on Dec. 18, of illegally making tens of millions of dollars trading on hacked corporate-earnings information. Yet as authorities laid out their securities fraud case, a striking portrait of the detainee emerged: Klyushin was not only an accused insider trader, but a Kremlin insider. He ran an information technology company that works with the Russian government’s top echelons. Just 18 months earlier, Klyushin received a medal of honor from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The U.S. had, in its custody, the highest-level Kremlin insider handed to U.S. law enforcement in recent memory. Klyushin’s cybersecurity work and Kremlin ties could make him a useful source of information for U.S. officials, according to several people familiar with Russian intelligence matters. Most critically, these people said, if he chooses to cooperate, he could provide Americans with their closest view yet of 2016 election manipulation. According to people in Moscow who are close to the Kremlin and security services, Russian intelligence has concluded that Klyushin, 41, has access to documents relating to a Russian campaign to hack Democratic Party servers during the 2016 U.S. election. These documents, they say, establish the hacking was led by a team in Russia’s GRU military intelligence that U.S. cybersecurity companies have dubbed “Fancy Bear” or APT28. Such a cache would provide the U.S. for the first time with detailed documentary evidence of the alleged Russian efforts to influence the election, according to these people.

Full Article: Kremlin Insider Klyushin Is Said to Have 2016 Hack Details – Bloomberg

National: Another Far-Right Group Is Scrutinized About Its Efforts to Aid Trump | Alan Feuer/The New York Times

Days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year, federal law enforcement officials pursued two high-profile extremist groups: the far-right nationalist Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers militia. Members of both organizations were quickly arrested on attention-grabbing charges, accused of plotting to interfere with the certification of the 2020 vote count. Now congressional investigators are examining the role of another right-wing paramilitary group that was involved in a less publicly visible yet still expansive effort to keep President Donald J. Trump in power: the 1st Amendment Praetorian. Known in shorthand as 1AP, the group spent much of the postelection period working in the shadows with pro-Trump lawyers, activists, business executives and military veterans to undermine public confidence in the election and to bolster Mr. Trump’s hopes of remaining in the White House. By their own account, members of the 1st Amendment Praetorian helped to funnel data on purported election fraud to lawyers suing to overturn the vote count. They guarded celebrities like Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, at “Stop the Steal” rallies, where huge crowds gathered to demand that Mr. Trump remain in office. And they supported an explosive proposal to persuade the president to declare an emergency and seize the country’s voting machines in a bid to stay in power.

Full Article: Another Far-Right Group Is Scrutinized About Its Efforts to Aid Trump – The New York Times

National: Democrats Seek Filibuster Changes to Pass Elections Bills | Siobhan Hughes/Wall Street Journal

The Senate returns for a new session on Monday with Democrats focused on trying to change the chamber’s rules to muscle through elections legislation over Republican opposition, as lawmakers also hope to revive President Biden’s stalled economic and climate agenda. Many Democrats say they need to alter Senate filibuster procedures, which require 60 votes to advance most legislation, to pass bills designed to make it easier for people nationwide to vote. The party currently controls the evenly divided Senate, but some Democrats have resisted eliminating the filibuster outright, muddying the prospects for any legislative progress despite the fresh push. “You can think of January as a moment when two different forces are converging,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.), who has been a leader in negotiations on both rules changes and voting legislation. “One is the functionality of the Senate and the other is the functionality of our republic.” Democrats have called passing new elections legislation their priority, arguing that minority voters need protections from new state rules. Republicans have blocked election-related bills in the Senate, and they paint calls to change the filibuster as a power grab. GOP lawmakers say the proposed changes to election law would put voting rules under the control of the federal government with little sensitivity to election security or local needs.

Full Article: Democrats Seek Filibuster Changes to Pass Elections Bills – WSJ

National: US could be under rightwing dictator by 2030, Canadian professor warns | Richard Luscombe/The Guardian

The US could be under a rightwing dictatorship by 2030, a Canadian political science professor has warned, urging his country to protect itself against the “collapse of American democracy”. “We mustn’t dismiss these possibilities just because they seem ludicrous or too horrible to imagine,” Thomas Homer-Dixon, founding director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University in British Columbia, wrote in the Globe and Mail. “In 2014, the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck nearly everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and the horrible commonplace.” Homer-Dixon’s message was blunt: “By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a rightwing dictatorship.” The author cited eventualities centered on a Trump return to the White House in 2024, possibly including Republican-held state legislatures refusing to accept a Democratic win. Trump, he warned, “will have only two objectives, vindication and vengeance” of the lie that his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden was the result of electoral fraud.

Full Article: US could be under rightwing dictator by 2030, Canadian professor warns | US politics | The Guardian

National: Trump acolytes vie for key election oversight posts in US midterms | Sam Levine/The Guardian

When Americans go to the polls in the 2022 midterms, the most important elections won’t be for office in Washington. The most high-stakes races will be statewide contests, in some cases for long overlooked offices, that have profound consequences for the future of free and fair elections in America. The races for governor and secretary of state, the chief election official in many places, will determine which officials have control over setting election rules and the post-election certification process. Allies of Donald Trump and others who have spread baseless conspiracy theories about the election have launched campaigns for several of those offices, both at the statewide and local level, in an effort to take control of election machinery. Trump is expected to run for president in 2024, and if his allies are successful, there are fears they could use their positions to block Trump’s opponent from taking office should Trump lose. Democrats are seeking to hold on to governor’s offices in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, three crucial swing states. The Democratic incumbents in all three states have blocked efforts by GOP-led legislatures to enact voting restrictions so far. There will also be hotly contested elections in Arizona and Georgia, where Republican candidates who have spread lies about the results of the 2020 election are running for governor.

Full Article: Trump acolytes vie for key election oversight posts in US midterms | US news | The Guardian

Editorial: Trump Won’t Let America Go. Can Democrats Pry It Away? | Thomas B. Edsall/The New York Times

Do you believe, as many political activists and theorists do, that the contemporary Republican Party poses a threat to democracy? After all, much of its current leadership refuses to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election and is dead set on undermining the concept of one person, one vote. If it does pose such a threat, does that leave the Democratic Party as the main institutional defender of democracy? If the Democratic Party has been thrust into that role — whether it wants it or not — recent election results and adverse polling trends suggest that it stands a good chance of losing both branches of Congress in 2022 and that Donald Trump or a Trump clone could win the presidency in 2024. The issue then becomes a question of strategic emphasis. Do Democrats’ difficulties grow more out of structural advantages for the Republican Party — better geographic distribution of its voters, the small-state tilt of the Electoral College and the Senate, more control over redistricting? Or do their difficulties stem from Democratic policies and positions that alienate key blocs of the electorate? If, as much evidence showsworking-class defections from the Democratic Party are driven more by cultural, racial and gender issues than by economics — many non-college-educated whites are in fact supportive of universal redistribution programs and increased taxes on the rich and corporations — should the Democratic Party do what it can to minimize those sociocultural points of dispute, or should the party stand firm on policies promoted by its progressive wing?

Full Article: Opinion | Trump Won’t Let America Go. Can Democrats Pry It Away? – The New York Times

Colorado: Mesa County drops lawsuit against Tina Peters over voting services contract | Sara Wilson/The Durango Herald

Mesa County will no longer pursue a lawsuit against Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters after she attested to county commissioner documents. The original lawsuit, filed on Dec. 21, alleged that Peters neglected her duty as clerk by failing to attest to legal action the county’s commissioners took to extend a contract with ​​Runbeck Election Services, as first reported by The Daily Sentinel. The company will print ballots and envelopes for the 2022 primary and general elections. Though Peters was stripped of her status to run elections in the county for the 2021 coordinated election, her duties as clerk still involve attesting to documents signed by the board. The deadline to attest to the voting services contract was Dec. 20, which Peters missed. That prompted the lawsuit. “Peters finally did attest to the Runbeck contract on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, a week after all other documents were attested, one day after the given deadline and several hours after the county filed the lawsuit with the court,” Mesa County attorney Todd Starr wrote in a statement. It was necessary to expedite the contract with Runbeck because of a possible shortage of ballot envelopes and inserts next year, county officials said.

Full Article: Mesa County drops lawsuit against Tina Peters over voting services contract – The Durango Herald

Georgia county might close voting precincts and open one large site | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A replacement elections board is planning to close all seven polling places in Lincoln County north of Augusta, requiring in-person voters to report to one centralized location. The poll closures would reduce voting access for rural residents who would have to drive 15 miles or more to cast a ballot in a county with no public transportation options, leading to opposition from voting rights advocates. The plan is moving forward after a state law passed this year abolished the previous county elections board and gave a majority of appointments to the Republican County Commission. Lincoln is one of six counties where the Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly reorganized local election boards. “This is about the powerful flexing their muscles and saying, ‘We can do whatever we want to do, and who’s going to stop us?’ ” said the Rev. Denise Freeman, who is organizing Lincoln voters to oppose the poll closures. “In Lincoln County, it’s always been about power and control.” The county’s elections director, Lilvender Bolton, said a central voting center near the city of Lincolnton would give voters a single site for both early and election day voting, and it would provide more space than small, little-used precincts.

Full Article: Georgia county might close voting precincts and open one large site

New Hampshire’s longtime guardian of its early presidential primary is stepping down | NPR

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, who earned a national reputation as gatekeeper of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, announced Monday that he will retire in the coming days. Gardner has held the office since December 1976, when he was elected at the age of 28. He’s the longest-serving secretary of state in the nation. As the state’s chief election official, Gardner is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations around voting in New Hampshire. But it’s as chief defender of the state’s presidential primary that Gardner has earned his loudest praise — and criticism. At a press conference in his cramped State House office Monday, Gardner waved away a suggestion that he was stepping down for health reasons. He said Dave Scanlan, his current deputy, will serve as the interim secretary of state. “I know the office which I leave will be in good hands,” Gardner said.

Full Article: New Hampshire’s longtime guardian of its early presidential primary is stepping down : NPR

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will appoint mail voting advocate Leigh M. Chapman to be new top elections official | Philadelphia Inquirer

Gov. Tom Wolf plans to appoint Leigh M. Chapman, a lawyer who leads a nonprofit that promotes mail voting, to be the state’s next top elections official, tasking her with overseeing a midterm election cycle that will bring national scrutiny to Pennsylvania while the state fends off continued GOP attacks stemming from the 2020 presidential election. Chapman will become acting secretary of the commonwealth on Jan. 8, Wolf announced Monday. She previously served as policy director in the agency she will soon head, the Department of State, from 2015 to 2017. “Throughout my career, I have worked to ensure that voting rights are protected, and to improve access to the ballot box,” Chapman said. “I look forward to continuing that work in my new role, and to build on the tremendously successful election reforms in Pennsylvania over the last several years.” Chapman will replace Veronica Degraffenreid, who received praise from Wolf for overseeing the office in an acting capacity following the February resignation of the last permanent secretary, Kathy Boockvar. Wolf originally intended to elevate Degraffenreid to a permanent role in the office but withdrew the nomination after she clashed with Senate Republicans over their controversial review of the 2020 presidential election. She will become a special adviser to Wolf after Chapman takes over the department. Wolf’s announcement Monday was silent on whether he intended Chapman to assume the secretary role on a permanent basis, which would require legislative confirmation. “She will be acting secretary, where she will be able to perform the full duties and responsibilities of a confirmed secretary,” Wolf spokesperson Elizabeth Rementer said in a separate statement.

Full Article: Gov. Tom Wolf will appoint mail voting advocate Leigh M. Chapman to be Pa.’s new top elections official

Tennessee Lawmaker Proposes a Return to Voting Without Ballot-Marking Machines | Morgan Nicole Veysey/Tennessee Star

Tennessee Representative Bruce Griffey (R-District 75) introduced a new bill aimed to protect election safety in Tennessee by eliminating the use of ballot-marking voting machines, and instead, requiring voters to use “hand-marked paper ballots.” The bill would also authorize poll watchers to video record polling places. Griffey, who recently announced his candidacy for Circuit Court Judge for the 24th Judicial District, Division 2, has been consistent proponent for increased election integrity legislation. “I will be pursuing more election integrity legislation in the upcoming legislative session to cut down on fraud and try to prevent another disaster like November 2020!” he said on Facebook shortly before filing the bill proposal. The proposed measure is an amendment to the current Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 2, Chapter 9, and applies to the 2022 election and all elections thereafter.

Full Article: Tennessee Lawmaker Proposes a Return to Voting Without Ballot-Marking Machines – Tennessee Star

Texas secretary of state’s partial audit of 2020 election finds few issues | Alexa Ura and Allyson Waller/The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin: Gableman subpoenas election officials and city IT departments as GOP election review widens | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Assembly Republicans hit the state Elections Commission and municipal IT departments with subpoenas in recent days as part of their wide-ranging, months-long review of the 2020 election. The demand for records and testimony came days after a Dane County judge said she would issue a ruling in January addressing the validity of earlier subpoenas. That decision will provide initial answers on whether Assembly Republicans can continue to perform their review largely in secret. The latest subpoenas, dated Tuesday, were issued by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is overseeing the review of the presidential election for Assembly Republicans. Recounts and court rulings have confirmed Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes, and independent entities have found no evidence of significant voter fraud in the state. The latest subpoenas seek emails, logs of internet traffic, information about voting machines and data about individual voters. The scope of the requests suggest Gableman’s team plans to spend months more looking into an election that occurred over a year ago.

Full Article: Michael Gableman subpoenas election officials and IT departments

The Catch-22 of Addressing Election Security | Sue Halpern/The New Yorker

Earlier this month, when the former Georgia U.S. senator David Perdue filed a lawsuit seeking to examine last year’s absentee ballots from Fulton County, the state’s largest election district, he became the latest Republican to parrot the cynical rhetoric of election fraud championed by Donald Trump. Just a few days earlier, Perdue, who lost reëlection to his Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff, in a run-off election in January, not only declared his intention to challenge the incumbent Republican governor, Brian Kemp, in the 2022 primary but also announced that, if he had been governor in 2020, he would not have certified the Presidential election results. Not surprisingly, Trump has endorsed Perdue. (Kemp, who ran in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary as a Trump acolyte, was quick to point out via a spokesperson that “David Perdue is so concerned about election fraud that he waited a year to file a lawsuit.”) It’s unlikely that Perdue’s lawsuit will be any more successful than a similar one filed by nine voters in Georgia, which was thrown out in October. But there are other ways of winning. According to a Center for Election Innovation and Research poll, more than sixty per cent of Republicans now believe that the election may have been stolen. That narrative may not have been able to overturn the 2020 election, but it is undermining future elections by seeding widespread doubt about the legitimacy of the democratic process. Perdue, for instance, is claiming that sixteen Fulton County election officials, whom he has identified by name, counted and certified “unlawful counterfeit absentee ballots.” In so doing, he has joined a disturbing trend of vilifying election administrators for not delivering the Presidency to Trump. (A recent investigation by Reuters found more than a hundred threats of death and other acts of violence against election workers and officials.)

Full Article: The Catch-22 of Addressing Election Security | The New Yorker

Inside the nonstop pressure campaign by Trump allies to get election officials to revisit the 2020 vote | Amy Gardner, Emma Brown and Josh Dawsey/The Washington Post

More than a year after Donald Trump lost the presidency, election officials across the country are facing a growing barrage of claims that the vote was not secure and demands to investigate or decertify the outcome, efforts that are eating up hundreds of hours of government time and spreading distrust in elections. The ongoing attack on the vote is being driven in part by well-funded Trump associates, who have gained audiences with top state officials and are pushing to inspect protected machines and urging them to conduct audits or sign on to a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 results. And the campaign is being bolstered by grass-roots energy, as local residents who have absorbed baseless allegations of ballot fraud are now forcing election administrators to address the false claims. The fallout has spread from the six states where Trump sought to overturn the outcome in 2020 to deep-red places such as Idaho, where officials recently hand-recounted ballots in three counties to refute claims of vote-flipping, and Oklahoma, where state officials commissioned an investigation to counter allegations that voting machines were hacked. State and local officials said no one has presented actual evidence that rampant fraud tainted the 2020 election, and numerous ballot reviews and legal proceedings have affirmed that the vote was secure. Yet they and their staffs have been forced into a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole, debunking a steady stream of false allegations only to see similar claims emerge again from other groups or in other states.

Full Article: Inside the nonstop pressure campaign by Trump allies to get election officials to revisit the 2020 vote – The Washington Post

National: Democratic push on voting rights becomes more urgent as midterms approach | Theodoric Meyer/The Washington Post

Senate Democrats not only failed to push their social spending bill over the finish line before the Christmas holidays. They also fell short on another of the party’s top priorities this year: approving a landmark package of voting rights measures. And while Democrats argue the changes are critical to safeguarding democracy, strategists in both parties say the package could also reshape the battle for control of the House next year, potentially bolstering Democrats’ chances of hanging onto their House majority in a year when Republicans have the edge. One of the two bills that Democrats are considering, the Freedom to Vote Act, would bar partisan gerrymandering. If passed, the bill could trigger a cavalcade of lawsuits to force states to redraw new congressional maps that favor one party or the other, all before November 2022. “The [legislation] says that courts cannot allow a method that’s found to be illegal to be used simply because an election is imminent,” Eric Holder, the former attorney general and current chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), said in an interview last week. “And so you would have the capacity once the bill is passed to challenge what Texas has done, what Georgia has done, North Carolina, Ohio — what they’ve either done or indicated they’re going to do.”

Full Article: Democratic push on voting rights becomes more urgent as midterms approach – The Washington Post

National: Retired generals: The military must prepare now for a 2024 insurrection | Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba and Steven M. Anderson/The Washington Post

As we approach the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we — all of us former senior military officials — are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk. In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time. One of our military’s strengths is that it draws from our diverse population. It is a collection of individuals, all with different beliefs and backgrounds. But without constant maintenance, the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown is very real. The signs of potential turmoil in our armed forces are there. On Jan. 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active-duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than 1 in 10 of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials, under the name “Flag Officers 4 America,” released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s false attacks on the legitimacy of our elections. Recently, and perhaps more worrying, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the commanding general of the Oklahoma National Guard, refused an order from President Biden mandating that all National Guard members be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Mancino claimed that while the Oklahoma Guard is not federally mobilized, his commander in chief is the Republican governor of the state, not the president.

Full Article: Opinion | Retired generals: The military must prepare now for a 2024 insurrection – The Washington Post

National: Dominion Voting wins key decision in lawsuit against Fox News | Katelyn Polantz/CNN

A judge in Delaware has found that Fox News’ coverage of election fraud after the 2020 election may have been inaccurate, and is allowing a major defamation case against the right-wing TV network to move forward. Judge Eric Davis of the Delaware Superior Court declined to dismiss Dominion Voting System’s lawsuit against Fox News in a significant ruling Thursday. The ruling will now allow Dominion to attempt to unearth extensive communications within Fox News as they gather evidence for the case, and the company may be able to interview the network’s top names under oath. At this stage, the court must assume Dominion’s claims about Fox News are true. Still, Davis called out, in the 52-page opinion, that Fox News may have slanted its coverage to push election fraud, knowing the accusations were wrong. Dominion alerted the network’s anchors and executives to information that disproved accusations of widespread vote-switching following Donald Trump’s re-election loss, the judge noted.

Full Article: Dominion Voting wins key decision in lawsuit against Fox News – CNN

National: CISA Hosts Election Cybersecurity Navigators Forum for State and Local Election Officials | Homeland Security Today

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently concluded a forum for state and local election officials to discuss cyber navigator programs. Cyber navigators are state liaisons that can help under-resourced local jurisdictions manage their cyber risks, help sort through the onslaught of risk information, advice, and available services, and help fast-track mitigation efforts. During the two-day forum participants shared their experiences and identified lessons learned for navigator programs. This forum is part of a series of new steps to prioritize cybersecurity across the Department of Homeland Security. Secretary Mayorkas first outlined his vision for the Department’s cybersecurity priorities in March, which included a series of focused 60-day sprints designed to elevate existing work, remove roadblocks to progress, and launch new initiatives and partnerships to achieve DHS’s cybersecurity mission and implement Biden-Harris Administration priorities. DHS is currently in the midst of its “Election Security” sprint, focused on the need to cement the resilience of the nation’s democratic infrastructures and protect the integrity of its election.

Full Article: CISA Hosts Election Cybersecurity Navigators Forum for State and Local Election Officials – HS Today

Editorial: Will Donald Trump Get Away With Inciting an Insurrection? | Laurence H. Tribe, Donald Ayer and Dennis Aftergut/The New York Times

In his nine months in office, Attorney General Merrick Garland has done a great deal to restore integrity and evenhanded enforcement of the law to an agency that was badly misused for political reasons under his predecessor. But his place in history will be assessed against the challenges that confronted him. And the overriding test that he and the rest of the government face is the threat to our democracy from people bent on destroying it. Mr. Garland’s success depends on ensuring that the rule of law endures. That means dissuading future coup plotters by holding the leaders of the insurrection fully accountable for their attempt to overthrow the government. But he cannot do so without a robust criminal investigation of those at the top, from the people who planned, assisted or funded the attempt to overturn the Electoral College vote to those who organized or encouraged the mob attack on the Capitol. To begin with, he might focus on Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and even Donald Trump — all of whom were involved, in one way or another, in the events leading up to the attack. Almost a year after the insurrection, we have yet to see any clear indicators that such an investigation is underway, raising the alarming possibility that this administration may never bring charges against those ultimately responsible for the attack.

Full Article: Opinion | Will Donald Trump Get Away With Inciting an Insurrection? – The New York Times

Editorial: To save America’s democracy, Democrats need to start acting like Republicans | Austin Sarat/The Hill

The United States has two political parties that for most of the last half century have been going in different directions. One, the Republican Party, has been acting like the vanguard for a coherent and determined social movement whose object has been to rewrite the rules and norms of American politics and American life. At the same time, the Democratic Party has continued to try to be a big tent agglomeration of groups and act as if the political rules remain what they always have been. These diverging paths accelerated with the Trumpification of the Republican Party — but their roots can be traced back to the Supreme Court’s 1972 Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion and, especially, the failed nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987. Bork — who opposed the Supreme Court’s one man, one vote decision on legislative apportionment, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and asserted that the Constitution contained no right of privacy — became a symbol of conservative grievance. As a National Public Radio report put it, his “nomination changed everything, maybe forever.” The Roe decision and Bork’s rejection galvanized the right wing in the service of a long term political and legal strategy. Since then, they have carefully vetted political candidates for ideological purity, unapologetically imposed litmus tests on judicial nominees, and developed an infrastructure to support their efforts. As Princeton historian Julian Zelizer puts it, Republicans learned that winning would take a “ruthless disposition.” Today Republicans are using Trump’s defeat in 2020 and the red herring of election fraud as their new Bork moment to propel a more insidious cause — stacking the political game to ensure that Trump (or his successor as Republican nominee) cannot lose the 2024 election.

Full Article: To save America’s democracy, Democrats need to start acting like Republicans | TheHill

California: Cascade of failures upended Los Angeles County’s 2020 primary, report finds | Kim Zetter/Politico

The election that spawned malfunctions and long lines during Los Angeles County’s 2020 primary was even more chaotic and poorly planned than previously indicated, according to an unpublished consultants’ report obtained by POLITICO. The 390-page document by Slalom Consulting describes a beleaguered election department that missed key deadlines, failed to properly manage a vendor that supplied faulty equipment, and hired inexperienced call center staff to help election workers deal with the breakdowns. The report holds implications for other local governments as they increasingly adopt the same kinds of election changes implemented last year in Los Angeles County, one of the nation’s most populous voting jurisdictions. Those include an expansion of early voting; a switch from neighborhood precincts to vote centers where anyone registered in the county can cast ballots; and the use of electronic devices instead of paper “poll books” to verify voters’ eligibility. The county managed these changes ineffectively, the consultants wrote, leaving it unprepared to respond to technical problems. Among them were troubles with the electronic poll books, which have also caused confusion and hourslong waits in places such as Georgia, Philadelphia, North Carolina and South Dakota. Other jurisdictions should take heed, one elections expert said in a text message. “The spectacular failure of LA’s primary shows just how brittle the vote center model actually is, and how easily elections dependent on vote centers can be crippled by malfunctioning e-pollbooks,” said Susan Greenhalgh, senior adviser on election security for the election integrity group Free Speech for People.

Full Article: Cascade of failures upended LA County’s 2020 primary, report finds – POLITICO

Colorado Secretary of State asks judge to dismiss ‘baseless’ GOP election-denier lawsuit | Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by six Republican elected officials seeking to launch a third-party “audit” of the 2020 election, part of a broader effort to spread baseless conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud and seize control of state elections. Griswold’s response, submitted on Monday, moves to dismiss all three claims for relief made by the lawsuit against her, which was filed last month by a group of GOP officials led by state Rep. Ron Hanks, a Penrose lawmaker and 2022 candidate for U.S. Senate. “My office is requesting the judge dismiss this baseless lawsuit,” Griswold said in a statement. “The plaintiffs’ allegations are patently false, and their legal justifications without merit. Nationwide, bad actors are abusing the judicial process to spread disinformation, undermine confidence in elections, and suppress the right to vote. It is extremely concerning to see elected officials here in Colorado spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.” Hanks’ lawsuit raises a series of objections to the secretary of state’s election procedures, including Griswold’s adoption of emergency rules prohibiting what she called “sham election audits” like the one that took place earlier this year in Arizona. That effort, conducted by Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas at the request of GOP lawmakers, has been widely criticized as undermining confidence in the state’s election system while uncovering no credible evidence of fraud.

Full Article: Griswold asks judge to dismiss ‘baseless’ GOP election-denier lawsuit – Colorado Newsline

Florida: Rules to use high-speed audit equipment for vote recounts drafted | Jeffrey Schweers/Tallahassee Democrat

State elections officials are proposing new rules for election audits and recounts based on a law approved in 2020. It was pushed by county election supervisors for years to allow independent auditing machines to perform recounts. The law took effect Jan. 1, 2021, but can’t be implemented without the rules – a process that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the applications of former felons seeking restoration of their voting rights whose eligibility needed to be investigated. “The rules currently envision refeeding all ballots through the ballot tabulation system,” said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley, also the incoming president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections statewide association. “The end goal is we can now use this new technology to enable much more efficient and transparent recounts for the counties that have adopted this technology,” Earley said. But “we can’t do that until these rules are written.”

Full Article: New rules for Florida vote recounts being considered

Florida Gov. DeSantis worries voter groups, local officials with elections police proposal | John Kennedy/Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to create a new law enforcement arm to police Florida elections is sparking concern among voter outreach organizations and state elections officials worried about how this force could be deployed. The Republican governor has praised Florida’s election performance in the 2020 presidential contest. But he’s never dismissed claims by former President Donald Trump that he lost the White House due to widespread voter irregularities and fraud last November. DeSantis’ call for a $5.7 million, 52-person Election Crimes and Security investigative force within the Florida Department of State has emerged as one of his attempts to lift the cloud he, Trump and others have kept swirling around U.S. elections. Others aren’t so sure. “This is a solution in search of a problem,” said Orange County Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles who, like most elections professionals, says actual vote fraud rarely occurs and is even less likely to be part of an organized effort.

Full Article: DeSantis’ plan for election police prompts concern from voter groups

Georgia: Lincoln County attempts to eliminate six of seven polling places | Susan McCord/Augusta Chronicle

Lincoln County is trying to close all but one polling place for next year’s elections, a move opposed by voting and civil rights groups. Relocating voters from the county’s seven precincts to a single location will make voting “easier and more accessible” and eliminate the need to transport voting equipment and staff the remaining sites, according to a news release. Community members disagreed. “Lincoln County is a very rural county. Some people live as far as 23 miles from the city of Lincolnton,” said Denise Freeman, an activist and former Lincoln County school board member. “This is not about convenience for the citizens. This is about control. This is about the good old boys wanting to do what they’ve always done, which is power and control.” The move was made possible after the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year disbanding the Lincoln County Board of Elections. The chief sponsor of Senate bills 282 and 283 was Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, whose district includes Lincoln County. The newly-appointed board agreed to move forward with the “consolidation” plan and was expected to vote on it last week, but appeared to lack a quorum, several said. Multiple public interest groups including the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Common Cause Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Augusta’s Interfaith Coalition are taking a stand against the effort.

Full Article: Lincoln County attempts to eliminate six of seven polling places

Michigan: Trump backers want audit of 2020 vote funded by anonymous donors | Jonathan Oosting/Bridge Michigan

A petition drive to require a “forensic audit” of Michigan’s 2020 presidential election would guarantee anonymity to private backers who would pay for the multi-million dollar review, according to language filed Tuesday. Organizer John Rocha, a Republican state House candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump,  told Bridge Michigan the proposed audit process would be transparent, but he argued funders should be allowed to remain private to prevent backlash. “A lot of people have been getting shamed and doxxed” for political activities and beliefs, Rocha said before a small rally at the Michigan Capitol. “We don’t want that for people who are willing to support this.” The audit proposal, which organizers hope to put before voters in 2022, is the latest in a series of attempts by Trump loyalists to challenge the 2020 contest, which the former president continues to claim was rigged despite local audits and a GOP-led oversight investigation that found no evidence of fraud. The petition proposes creating a 16-member audit board, composed of political precinct delegates, that would raise money to hire private contractors to conduct another review of Michigan’s 2020 election, which Democratic President Joe Biden won by 154,188 votes. 

Full Article: Trump backers want audit of 2020 Michigan vote funded by anonymous donors | Bridge Michigan

Nevada county where Trump won to replace voting machines | Sam Metz/Associated Press

Local officials in rural Nevada decided on Thursday to replace equipment manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems — a sign that unsubstantiated concerns about election machine tampering are still prevalent more than a year after the 2020 election. In Lander County, population 5,734, commissioners approved $223,000 in spending for new ES&S voting machines and $69,000 for maintenance, installation and training. ES&S equipment is federally certified and used throughout the country, including in Carson City. The equipment will replace Dominion’s suite of voting equipment, which was the subject of conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the 2020 election, with Trump campaign attorneys suggesting without evidence that the company’s equipment had ties to Venezuela, George Soros and Antifa. Those claims have been largely debunked. News networks that promulgated them have faced defamation lawsuits. But Lander County residents continued to claim that Dominion’s equipment swayed the election results in comments to the commission over the past several months. The commissioners decided to replace Dominion equipment after outgoing County Clerk Sadie Sullivan, who oversees local elections, told them in October that the company had been a reliable partner. They said their scrutiny of Dominion machines wasn’t because they thought Lander’s elections was victim to foul play, but because they weren’t sure about the machines elsewhere.

Full Article: Nevada county where Trump won to replace voting machines | AP News