Editorial: The Assault on Voting is an Assault on Local Democracy | Zachary Roth/Brennan Center for Justice

Last spring, in the weeks and months after life was first reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic, local governments stepped up to help save the 2020 election. Knowing that many voters might not want to risk their health by casting a ballot in person, cities like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Houston, and Miami expanded access to mail voting by sending absentee ballots or ballot applications to all registered voters, sometimes with pre-paid postage, and by providing ballot drop boxes, among other moves. I suggested at the time that Republican-leaning rural counties in the same states might follow suit, in order to ensure that rural voters would enjoy the same expanded access as urban ones. A race to the top, in other words. I should have known that was too optimistic. After an election in which both mail voting and overall turnout soared, several GOP-led states, as we know, are desperate to restrict voting. And as part of that effort, they’re looking to clamp down on local governments’ authority to make voting easier — or in some cases, to run elections at all. Two states have already done so. Among the most dangerous parts of the sweeping voter suppression law Georgia passed last month is a provision that allows the state election board to suspend and temporarily replace local election officials. In practice, that means the state board — which, thanks to a different part of the law, will have a majority of members appointed by the GOP-controlled legislature — will be able to oust any local election official who seeks to expand access to the polls in ways the state doesn’t like. That could prevent county officials from taking individual on-the-ground conditions into account in order to devise election plans that best serve their voters. One part of the restrictive voting law Iowa passed last month could have a similar effect, making it a felony for local election officials not to follow guidance from the secretary of state. And a bill in Arkansas would likewise allow the state election commission to take over local election boards under certain circumstances — it failed once in committee but can be brought up again.

Full Article: The Assault on Voting is an Assault on Local Democracy | Brennan Center for Justice

Editorial: Arizona Senate is abusing its authority. End its election ‘audit’ now | Arizona Republic

Republicans in the Arizona Legislature have set aside dollars, hired consultants, procured the hardware and software to conduct what they call “an audit” of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County. What they don’t have is the moral authority to make it credible. Their conduct post-election has been so nakedly partisan that whatever their audit finds, its results will not be believed. They’ll be mocked and derided. State Senate Republicans insist they are not trying to reverse the election, but are rather trying to build greater trust in the system. But how can anyone trust them? They have overreached from the beginning, abusing their subpoena power to try to criminalize a dispute with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. County officials resisted their demands to hand over county tabulating machines and ballots. The system had already gone through rigorous testing, established by election law. And even the Republican governor of Arizona and the Democrat secretary of state affirmed the integrity of the election.

Full Article: Arizona Senate is abusing its authority. End its election ‘audit’ now

Editorial: Farcical Maricopa County election audit just a sideshow to Trump circus | Tim Steller/Arizona Daily Star

Don’t look at the bias — that’s not what really matters. So claims Doug Logan, CEO of the firm called Cyber Ninjas that is playing at auditing Maricopa County’s elections as a contractor for Arizona’s state Senate Republicans. Logan put out a statement Tuesday responding to what he termed the “spurious clamor over bias insinuations.” I appreciated the fun word choice, but it couldn’t cover up his conclusion: He may be biased, but that doesn’t matter because the audit will be so, so good. Those aren’t his precise words, but they were the gist of his meaning when he said, “The big question should not be ‘Am I biased,’ but ‘Will this audit be transparent, truthful and accurate?’ The answer to the latter question is a resounding ‘Yes.’ ” In truth, the Arizona Senate Republicans’ so-called audit of the presidential election in Maricopa County is dead on arrival. In an effort to appease the GOP conspiracy caucus, Senate President Karen Fann and her sidekick, Sen. Warren Petersen, have chosen a team that has no credibility with anyone but conservative election conspiracists. For the rest of the state’s population, this audit is just a final sideshow of the Trump circus, best ignored or jeered at, but certainly not believed.

Full Article: Tim Steller’s opinion: Farcical Maricopa election audit just a sideshow to Trump circus | Local news | tucson.com

Editorial: The lack of federal voting rights protections returns us to the pre-Civil War era | Kate Masur/The Washington Post

As Senate Democrats push to extend federal protection of voting rights, bills to restrict citizens’ access to the vote — many based on models produced by the conservative Heritage Foundation — have been introduced in 43 states. On Thursday, Georgia enacted a law that limits voters’ options and makes it easier for the state legislature to interfere with election results. The current absence of strong federal protection for voting rights resembles the United States before the Civil War and reminds us of why Americans changed the Constitution to protect individual rights during Reconstruction. From the nation’s founding through the Civil War, the states had virtually unchallengeable power to define the status and rights of their residents. Slavery was only the most extreme example. Northern states such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania chose to abolish slavery in the years following independence from Britain, but across the Southern tier of states, legislatures perpetuated slavery and codified it in law. Congress admitted new slave states to the Union, putting its imprimatur on states’ “right” to legalize slavery and to people’s right to hold Black people in bondage, denying them rights that many considered fundamental to personhood. Beyond slavery, all slave states and some free states placed strictures on the basic rights of free African Americans. After joining the Union as a free state in 1803, for example, Ohio adopted laws that required free African Americans who wanted to live in the state to prove their freedom and register with local officials. Laws forbade them from testifying in court cases involving White people, and barred Black children from public education. Ohio’s constitution granted voting rights to White men only. By contrast, Massachusetts placed no racial restrictions on men’s right to vote and had no racist or testimony residency laws. It did, however, bar interracial marriage and prohibit Black men from serving in the state militia.

Full Article: The lack of federal voting rights protections returns us to the pre-Civil War era – The Washington Post

Editorial: Arizona Republicans’ desperate crusade to find nonexistent voter fraud | The Washington Post

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) says she is determined to “ensure the integrity of the vote” in her state. Which is supposedly why, five months after Election Day, following multiple credible audits that found no hint of substantial fraud, she insists that the state Senate must conduct yet another audit, re-scanning and hand-counting every ballot cast in Phoenix’s Maricopa County, as well as digging into electronic election systems. This would be a big job for even the most experienced election official or voting company, never mind state legislators. So Ms. Fann and her Senate colleagues tapped Cyber Ninjas, a little-known Florida cybersecurity firm that boasts that it provides “general consulting” and “ethical hacking” services, to lead the audit. Arizona journalists quickly discovered one possible reason for this puzzling choice: Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan appears to have pushed pro-Trump election conspiracy theories on a Twitter account he apparently deleted in January. “The parallels between the statistical analysis of Venezuela and this year’s election are astonishing,” one tweet read, which included the hashtag #StopTheSteal. “I’m tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it’s real, and people better get wise fast,” read a tweet Mr. Logan apparently retweeted in December. He was also involved in a lawsuit claiming election fraud in Michigan. “This firm’s CEO not only harbors conspiratorial beliefs about the 2020 election, but has shared conspiracies about Dominion election equipment, the exact equipment he has been hired to audit,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) objected.

Full Article: Opinion | Arizona Republicans’ desperate crusade to find nonexistent voter fraud – The Washington Post

Editorial: Heavy hand of Heritage Foundation guides Florida’s election overhaul | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

It’s bad enough that the Republicans who run the Florida Legislature want to make it harder to vote. But as with so much that goes on in Tallahassee, it’s even worse than it looks. GOP legislators are following a script written by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that wants to institutionalize voter-suppression policies under the myth of “election integrity.” Never mind that Florida’s 2020 election had a record turnout and was a model for the nation with timely results and surprisingly few spoiled ballots. It also produced big Republican victories. For The Heritage Foundation and its allies in Florida’s Capitol, too many Democrats voted. They want to erect barriers — especially for black and brown people, who like the convenience of voting by mail and who overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates. “Election integrity” is code for keeping Democrats home. As The New York Times reports, Heritage Action for America, a partner of The Heritage Foundation, supported the highly controversial voting restrictions that recently became law in Georgia, a state that voted blue in 2020. Heritage Action said the effort was by volunteers. Fresh from that victory, Heritage Action has set its sights on Florida, one of eight states targeted for changes with Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin. The Heritage Foundation’s in-house elections specialist is Hans von Spakovsky, an Alabama lawyer and member of the arch-conservative Federalist Society who served on President Trump’s short-lived Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Heritage Action officials have confirmed to the Sun Sentinel editorial board that the group is working with Florida legislators. Heritage Action for America’s Florida lobbyist, Karen Jaroch, disclosed the group’s interest in shaping a House election bill, and Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, confirmed he has discussed voting-law changes with Heritage staffers.

Full Article: Heritage Foundation shapes revamp of Florida voting laws – South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Editorial: There Are Two Competing Narratives About The 2020 Election | Steve Schneider/Democracy Chronicles

There are two competing narratives about the 2020 election — it was rigged and it was the most secure election ever. Both can’t be correct unless all of our presidential elections have been rigged to varying degrees. This reality tells me that one of the two assertions is closer to the truth than the other but still misses the mark. So I set out to fill in the gap. I went online to do some reading. I also contacted a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is at the forefront of creating a modern, more secure voting machine system to replace obsolete software dating back to the time Bill Clinton was president. We need more information, I think, because many Americans, for reasons sound and not-so-sound, doubt the credibility of vote counts and election results. To start with, I wanted to learn the meaning of the phrase “the most secure election in American history”. A founder and Chief Operating Officer of OSET Institute gave me a detailed answer in an email. Gregory Miller helped start OSET in November 2006 to create an open-source voting machine system that manufacturers and voting jurisdictions can use to replace obsolete digital machines across the country. I am reprinting his answer in full because it clarifies what the government meant when it said the 2020 election was the most secure in American history. I have put in bold portions of the statement that seem significant and new to me.

Full Article: There Are Two Competing Narratives About The 2020 Election

Editorial: Why Judges, Not Lawmakers, Should Rule on Disputed Elections | Kevin Johnson/Governing

Disregard for the judgments of courts is a sure sign that democracy is in trouble. Donald Trump’s machinations after the Nov. 3 election centered, fundamentally, on overturning the many court rulings rejecting his claims of fraud. Channeling fomented partisan anger, Trump and his allies sought to replace the verdict of the judiciary with populist resolutions in Congress and state legislatures. Before our democracy is so tested by fire again, we must reinforce the primacy of the judiciary as the institution best positioned to judge contested elections. That requires pushing back on proposals to increase state legislatures’ role in such disputes and amending the federal Electoral Count Act to remove congressional discretion in the counting of presidential electoral votes. Judicial supervision of contested elections has become the norm in most democracies around the world. An outlier in this area as in so many, the U.S. allows a considerable role for legislatures. The Constitution, for example, makes the House and Senate “the Judge of the Elections … of its own Members.” North Carolina provides for its Legislature to intervene in a contested presidential election to name electors if disputes are unresolved within 35 days of the vote. Georgia’s GOP has proposed similar ideas, and Arizona’s Legislature is considering a bill giving itself even greater control over contested presidential elections.

Full Article: Why Judges, Not Lawmakers, Should Rule on Disputed Elections

Editorial: What Went Right in the 2020 Election | Shira Ovide/The New York Times

A lot went wrong after the 2020 election in the United States. But here’s one thing that went right during it: A risk everyone worried about — foreign election interference — mostly failed. That showed what is possible when government officials and technology companies are laser focused on a problem, effectively coordinate and learn from their past mistakes. But the false narrative that the election was stolen, culminating in a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, also pointed to the limits of those efforts. The Russians or the Chinese didn’t delegitimize our election. We did it to ourselves. Today, I want to explore the glass half-full view. The largely averted threat of foreign election meddling was a success that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Full Article: What Went Right in the 2020 Election – The New York Times

Editorial: Keep your eye on Kentucky’s voting plans | Joshua A. Douglas/CNN

Many Republican-led state legislatures are crafting new voter restrictions in the wake of the 2020 election, but one particularly red state may buck that trend. Kentucky is considering a bill that would actually expand voter access while also enhancing integrity measures. The measure just passed the House by an overwhelming and bipartisan 93-4 vote, and it will hopefully achieve that same success in the Senate. It’s a lesson in what’s possible in the all-too-partisan world of election law. Other states should take notice. It began with a successfully executed 2020 election, in which Kentucky, which has some of the most restrictive voting rules in the nation, eased voter access in light of the pandemic. Normally, Kentucky has no early voting, no online ballot request tool for absentee voters and no “cure” process if the signature on the ballot does not match the one on file with the state. For 2020, however, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Secretary of State Michael G. Adams crafted a bipartisan emergency plan to allow for early voting, the adoption of countywide vote centers, an online portal to request an absentee ballot, and the ability for voters to cure problems with their ballots. The process led to higher turnout and nationwide praise. And Republicans still did extremely well, even with expanded voter access.

Full Article: Opinion: Keep your eye on Kentucky’s voting plans – CNN

Editorial: Dominion Voting Systems’ Legal Rampage Against Trump’s Grifters | Matt Ford/The New Republic

Every year, my colleagues and I get to go through “libel training.” Every year, I also make the insufferable joke to my co-workers that we’re going to be trained to commit libel. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that exciting. A lawyer who’s worked with The New Republic for many years presents a PowerPoint on the basics of American defamation law. He describes what counts as defamation and what doesn’t, what can insulate us from liability and what can increase it, and some of the gray areas where caution might be warranted. The annual lesson is a useful reminder that we have a responsibility, both legal and moral, to use our platform wisely. (I believe it’s also required by TNR’s insurance.) From a global perspective, we’re actually pretty lucky on this front. The First Amendment makes it extraordinarily difficult to bring a successful defamation lawsuit against someone in American courts. Australia and Britain, by comparison, have much lower legal thresholds for libel claims to succeed. This is one reason, among others, why the #MeToo movement spread further in American society than it did in many other countries, where survivors’ stories could be stifled with legal threats. But the U.S. threshold for defamation claims is not insurmountable. Mike Lindell, the far-right CEO of MyPillow, may soon find this out the hard way. Dominion Voting Systems filed a lawsuit against him this week for his central role in spreading what it refers to in its suit as the “Big Lie” that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election, which among other things implicates the company as a participant in this unhinged conspiracy to thwart American democracy. “Despite having been specifically directed to the evidence and sources disproving the Big Lie, Lindell knowingly lied about Dominion to sell more pillows to people who continued tuning in to hear what they wanted to hear about the election,” Dominion said in the complaint.

Full Article: Dominion Voting Systems’ Legal Rampage Against Trump’s Grifters | The New Republic

Editorial: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election | Laurence Tribe/The Hill

The 2020 election revealed rot in this country’s institutions. Donald Trump degraded the presidency; senators like Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) degraded the Congress. And, in a direct shot at the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election as our 46th president, Justice Clarence Thomas made clear that the “Big Lie” about the 2020 election — a major source of institutional decay — has infected the Supreme Court, too. Thomas staked out his Trumpian position in a dissent from the Supreme Court’s dismissal of two election-related lawsuits in Pennsylvania. Republicans in Pennsylvania had asked the Supreme Court to answer a recurring question that plagued the 2020 election: Does the United States Constitution permit the members of a state legislature, acting as a gang of elected lawmakers unconstrained by the state’s own constitution, to seize control of a presidential election by naming their own slate of electors to replace those chosen by the votes of the state’s people? The answer to that crucial question depends in part on parsing Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that presidential electors are appointed “in such Manner as the Legislature [of the State] may direct.” Some maintain that, by vesting the power to choose electors in state “Legislature[s],” the Constitution has designated a free-range bunch of state representatives to meet wherever they like and do whatever suits their fancy. They claim the Constitution authorized state legislatures to ignore procedural requirements (like the number of votes needed to pass a bill) drawn from the state’s constitution and even substantive state constitutional provisions (like those enshrining the right to fair and equal voting opportunities). Most constitutional scholars, myself included, reject this Wild West view of the Constitution. Instead, when the Constitution empowers a state “Legislature,” it takes legislature as it finds it: a body defined and circumscribed both by the state’s constitution as authoritatively construed by the state’s highest court, and by the federal Constitution as construed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Full Article: Laurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election | TheHill

Editorial: For trusted elections, we should model 2020 | Matt Masterson/TheHill

In the wake of the horrific Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — which was fueled by months of lies and conspiracy theories — election officials are left to pick up the pieces of our fractured democracy and begin to rebuild trust in our elections. They cannot and should not be asked to do this alone. It took a whole of government effort to secure the 2020 election and it will take that same level of investment to restore confidence in future elections. President Biden and his administration can play a critical role in this work. First, the new administration must double down on support to state and most importantly, local election officials. These heroes are being asked to defend their systems against threats from criminal actorsnation states and purveyors of disinformation. In the lead-up to the 2020 election, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and intelligence community, led the federal effort to support election officials in all 50 states to improve the security and resilience of their systems. This included pushing actionable information regarding cyber activity targeting election networks to thousands of election offices, scanning and testing election networks for vulnerabilities, literally pulling apart election systems to the chips and boards to find and mitigate weaknesses, responding to cyber incidents such as ransomware at the state and local level and sharing intelligence regarding foreign threats to elections broadly across the election community. In the end, this was as smooth and well run a presidential election as I have ever experienced in my fifteen years in elections. In the face of a global pandemichistoric turnout and baseless claims of rigging and malfeasance, state and local election officials rose to the occasion and administered a secure, accessible and accurate election.

Full Article: For trusted elections, we should model 2020 | TheHill

Editorial: Pennsylvania voters need to be confident in our elections, so rejecting misinformation is key | Lanethea Mathews-Schultz/Philadelphia Inquirer

The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee recently began a series of hearings on state election laws — ostensibly to learn more about the 2020 elections and with an eye toward improving the state’s future electoral process. It is difficult, however, to separate the causes and likely consequences of these hearings from past and ongoing efforts to sow doubt about election outcomes. The 2020 elections were the most litigated in Pennsylvania’s history. Sixty-four of our state legislative leaders were signatories to a letter urging Congress not to accept our state’s votes. At least 21 lawsuits were filed against the counting of state ballots. These objections to our state’s Electoral College results ultimately failed, but not before an insurrection in our nation’s Capitol and eight of our state’s federal representatives voted to disqualify Pennsylvania’s electoral ballots. Like voters around the nation, Pennsylvanians cast ballots in November under extraordinary circumstances — not only did a highly competitive presidential election drive unprecedented surges in turnout and mail-in voting, but it did so amid a global health pandemic, an operational crisis in the U.S. Postal Service, and widespread social unrest fueled by racial injustice. Many Pennsylvanians — despite being inundated with misinformation about mail-in ballots — voted by mail for the first time, an option made possible not by the pandemic, but by a bipartisan expansion of mail-in voting signed into law in 2019. Those who voted in person faced long lines and new COVID safety protocols. How has all of this shaped the confidence of state voters? Do Pennsylvanians believe we had a fair, safe, and accurate election? A postelection survey conducted by Muhlenberg College in December offers important, and troubling, insight.

Full Article: Pa. voters need to be confident in our elections, so rejecting misinformation is key | Opinion

Editorial: Before 2024, we had better fix the election law failings we saw last year | The Washington Post

Now that President Biden is in the Oval Office, it may be tempting to forget the election-law failings we saw in 2020. That would be a historic mistake; those weaknesses must be addressed before the next presidential race. Many Republicans, meanwhile, want to take the wrong lessons from 2020, making it harder to vote rather than easier and safer. This, too, would be a tragic error. The needed reckoning should be thoughtful, extensive and ambitious — and it will cost money. The National Task Force on Election Crises, a cross-ideological group of more than 50 experts on elections, security, public health and other relevant areas, released a report in January that offers a good starting point. The task force noted that, despite the lies that former president Donald Trump spun, the 2020 vote itself went remarkably well. Amid a pandemic, the nation smashed turnout records. Though some people faced massive lines, most did not. Voting machines were much more secure than in previous years. This success was in large part due to the nimble response of election officials who had months to prepare for a pandemic election. Expanding vote-by-mail and early-voting options was essential. Experimenting with drop boxes and curbside voting made casting a ballot easier than ever. Stepped-up recruitment of polling workers ensured adequate staffing in case some called in sick. These changes did not imperil election integrity; on the contrary, credible election observers deemed the vote free and fair. An overwhelming lesson of 2020 is to maintain and expand on these shifts.

Full Article: Opinion | Before 2024, we had better fix the election law failings we saw last year – The Washington Post

Editorial: When the Threat of Political Violence Is Real | Joanne B. Freeman/The New York Times

Scarcely had the violence ebbed on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 when the Republican calls for healing began. Representative Debbie Lesko of Arizona made an anti-impeachment cease-and-desist plea on Jan. 12 that was typical of many. Addressing Democrats, she warned that impeachment would “further divide our country, further the unrest and possibly incite more violence.” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina concurred, declaring on Fox News that calls for impeachment would “incite more violence” and “divide the country.” Although couched in calls for unity, these warnings are remarkably one-sided. There is no talk of reconciliation or compromise. No acceptance of responsibility. Lots of blame casting. And little willingness to calm and inform their base. Even now, some Republicans refuse to admit that Joe Biden won the election, and the Senate vote on an impeachment trial on Jan. 26 suggests that most Republicans want no investigation and will place no blame. They want reconciliation without apologies, concessions without sacrifice, power without accountability. And many of them are using threats of violence to encourage Democrats and the disloyal to fall in line. If you impeach the president there will be violence, they charge. Masked in democratic platitudes like “unity” and “healing,” the inherent menace in such pleas is utterly deniable. But they are threats nonetheless.

Full Article: Opinion | When the Threat of Political Violence Is Real – The New York Times

Editorial: Republicans react to 2020 defeats by trying to make it harder to vote | Joshua A. Douglas/CNN

Republicans are using their lies about massive voter fraud in the 2020 election — which had zero evidentiary support — to propose even stricter voting laws for future elections. They must be stopped. According to the federal government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and election officials of both parties, the 2020 election was the most secure and well-run election ever. There was record turnout and zero evidence of massive voter fraud. States made it easier to vote while also ensuring that valuable integrity measures were in place. So, the logical next step would be to continue what worked well and even expand upon those successes. But instead, Republican legislators in numerous states are advancing new laws to cut back on voter access. Arizona Republicans have proposed measures to limit mail-in voting after President Joe Biden won the state’s Electoral College votes and Mark Kelly won the Senate race — both Democrats. One idea is to eliminate the state’s popular permanent early voting list of individuals who automatically receive a ballot, while another would require mail-in voters to have a notary sign their ballot envelopes. These measures come in the wake of the Arizona Republican Party, through its Twitter feed, spreading anti-democracy lies about the sanctity of the 2020 election. Across the country, Georgia Republicans, reeling from losses in the presidential election and both US Senate races, have proposed the elimination of no-excuse absentee voting and ballot drop boxes, while adding a requirement that absentee voters provide a copy of a photo ID. A local Republican election official in Georgia said the quiet part out loud: She supports new voting restrictions so Republicans would “at least have a shot at winning.” Pennsylvania Republicans, meanwhile, are seeking to repeal the 2019 law that adopted no-excuse mail-in voting — which they had overwhelmingly supported. They are also holding fourteen election-related hearings to explore the 2020 process, despite the fact that they sustained their control of the state legislature and won a statewide race for treasurer. Pennsylvania’s Senate Republicans further showed their true anti-democracy disposition by removing the state’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor from presiding over the chamber and then initially refusing to seat a Democrat who had narrowly won his race, acquiescing only after a federal court rejected the Republican challengers’ lawsuit.

Full Article: Republicans react to 2020 defeats by trying to make it harder to vote (Opinion) – CNN

Editorial: Election law can’t protect democracy if our representatives are lawless | Richard L. Hasen/Los Angeles Times

Does the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection demonstrate that the problems with the legitimacy of American elections exceed the capacity of election law to fix them? Those of us in the field of election law were no more surprised that President Trump would threaten the peaceful transition of power if he lost the 2020 elections than epidemiologists were surprised by the deadly spread of COVID-19 in a country without a plan for containment. Last April, a multidisciplinary committee at UC Irvine issued a report on how to ensure a legitimate and fair election in 2020. It opened with the observation that “Americans can no longer take for granted that election losers will concede a closely fought election after election authorities (or courts) have declared a winner.” The report recommended expanding opportunities for early in-person and mail-in balloting; educating the media and its consumers that election results would likely be “too early to call” on election night; and encouraging social media companies to remove unsupported allegations of voter fraud and to direct people instead to reliable sources of information, such as election officials. The UC Irvine committee was not alone in its concerns; other groups focused on questions such as the potential for political actors to manipulate the arcane 1887 Electoral Count Act dictating how Congress counts electoral college votes from the states. The election itself was a surprising success. Turnout hit record levels. Voter disenfranchisement was rare, widespread voter fraud did not materialize and the election was well-administered except in some isolated pockets. And yet millions of Americans believe the election was stolen.

Full Article: Op-Ed: Election law can’t protect democracy if our representatives are lawless – Los Angeles Times

Editorial: My voting technology company has been hit with a tsunami of lies and misinformation | John Poulos/The Globe and Mail

A lot has been said about the recent U.S. presidential election. Disinformation concerning states that used voting technology from my company, Dominion Voting Systems, has unfortunately been the subject of much discussion. We have been hit with tsunami of lies, and I’d like to set the record straight. We did not start our company in Venezuela with Cuban money with the intent to rig elections for Hugo Chávez (or anyone else). We have not, and do not, send votes anywhere (let alone across jurisdictional borders). As the U.S. Army has attested, there was no “raid of Dominion servers in Germany.” The name “Dominion” does not connote some vast evil conspiracy theory. Here is the truth: I started the company in Toronto, not Caracas. The first investor was my sister, not Fidel Castro. We picked the company name as an homage to the 1920 Dominion Elections Act. For those that don’t know, this piece of legislation removed significant voting barriers, including those focused on voters’ sex, religion, race and economic standing. The ideals encapsulated in that piece of legislation reflected our core purpose in founding the company: increasing election transparency and helping voters vote. We started by helping blind voters vote independently with dignity. During the past few months, many have asked me how it feels to be attacked by a sitting president. The answer is complicated. Dominion’s systems are tested by the U.S. federal government and 28 U.S. states long before, leading up to, and right after elections. There were no “switched or deleted votes” involving Dominion machines, nor any other type of manipulation. We understand, however, that candidates (and their supporters) can become very emotional over the loss of an election, especially a highly contentious and divisive one. In times like these, election officials rely on audit trails and recounts to demonstrate complete transparency. Hand recounts of all paper ballots, in conjunction with robust legal avenues for aggrieved candidates to pursue election challenges, have always won the day.

Full Article: Opinion: My voting technology company has been hit with a tsunami of lies and misinformation – The Globe and Mail

Editorial: Pre-Nazi Germany tells us the fight to save American democracy is just beginning | Michael Brenner/The Washington Post

A mob of several thousand outraged people rampaged through the streets of the city after a long rambling speech by their leader inciting them to do so. Some used violence. Windows were broken, shots were heard, there was bloodshed. The leader of the pack demanded the political swamp be drained. After a tumultuous few hours, order was restored and elected officials emerged from their hiding places. No, this is not Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021. This was Munich, Nov. 8, 1923. The instigators did not come to Munich to support a president who was voted out of office. They did not gather in front of the nation’s seat of power, but rather started their rally in a beer cellar where a young Adolf Hitler seized control after silencing the politicians and the crowd assembled there with a pistol shot to the ceiling. Obviously, the circumstances surrounding the storming of the U.S. Capitol are very different from those of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch. But Germany during the 1920s offers crucial lessons for us today about how democracies become imperiled. Germany’s democracy was young, but the majority of the population stood behind it in the early 1920s. Yet, humiliated by defeat in World War I and plagued by an unprecedented economic crisis, a growing minority resorted to lies and conspiracy theories, such as the stab-in-the-back myth, which blamed scapegoats like Jews and socialists rather than the military for losing the war.

Full Article: Pre-Nazi Germany tells us the fight to save American democracy is just beginning – The Washington Post

Editorial: The Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage | Katherine Stewart/The New York Times

In today’s Republican Party, the path to power is to build up a lie in order to overturn democracy. At least that is what Senator Josh Hawley was telling us when he offered a clenched-fist salute to the pro-Trump mob before it ransacked the Capitol, and it is the same message he delivered on the floor of the Senate in the aftermath of the attack, when he doubled down on the lies about electoral fraud that incited the insurrection in the first place. How did we get to the point where one of the bright young stars of the Republican Party appears to be at war with both truth and democracy? Mr. Hawley himself, as it happens, has been making the answer plain for some time. It’s just a matter of listening to what he has been saying. In multiple speeches, an interview and a widely shared article for Christianity Today, Mr. Hawley has explained that the blame for society’s ills traces all the way back to Pelagius — a British-born monk who lived 17 centuries ago. In a 2019 commencement address at The King’s College, a small conservative Christian college devoted to “a biblical worldview,” Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and that grace comes to those who do good things, as opposed to those who believe the right doctrines. The most eloquent summary of the Pelagian vision, Mr. Hawley went on to say, can be found in the Supreme Court’s 1992 opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Mr. Hawley specifically cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words reprovingly: “At the heart of liberty,” Kennedy wrote, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The fifth century church fathers were right to condemn this terrifying variety of heresy, Mr. Hawley argued: “Replacing it and repairing the harm it has caused is one of the challenges of our day.” In other words, Mr. Hawley’s idea of freedom is the freedom to conform to what he and his preferred religious authorities know to be right. Mr. Hawley is not shy about making the point explicit. In a 2017 speech to the American Renewal Project, he declared — paraphrasing the Dutch Reformed theologian and onetime prime minister Abraham Kuyper — “There is not one square inch of all creation over which Jesus Christ is not Lord.” Mr. Kuyper is perhaps best known for his claim that Christianity has sole legitimate authority over all aspects of human life.

Full Article: Opinion | The Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage – The New York Times

Editorial: Trump Has Made America a Laughingstock | Ivan Krastev/The New York Times

Donald Trump promised to make the world respect and fear America. In the end, he accomplished neither. He has made a laughingstock of America and its democracy. Nobody could blame Russian, Chinese or Iranian leaders for thoroughly enjoying what they saw on Jan. 6 as a mob incited by the president ransacked the Capitol. The scenes looked like something out of a “color revolution,” the street protests in Ukraine and Georgia that toppled governments and sent shivers of fear down many authoritarians’ spines: irate citizens, propelled by social media, protesting what they viewed as fraudulent elections and calling for democracy, draped in the American flag. The only difference was that this time it was not an opposition candidate but a sitting American president protesting a “rigged election,” and the storming took place in the United States. There is already an abundance of commentary on the impact of Mr. Trump’s mutiny on American democracy. We can only hope that the attack on Congress was the final battle of the last Civil War, not the beginning of a new one. The 19th-century German chancellor Otto von Bismarck is often said to have asserted that “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards and the United States of America.” If he was right, we have reason to believe that America will eventually transcend its current crisis. But what happens in the meantime?

Full Article: Opinion | Trump Has Made America a Laughingstock – The New York Times

Editorial: I verified voters’ signatures. It’s too easy to disqualify them. | Catherine Hervey/The Washington Post

When President Trump spent an hour on Saturday trying to shake down Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” he insisted that proper signature verification would unearth “at least a couple of hundred thousand” that didn’t match the voter rolls. “Compare it to two years ago, four years ago, six years ago, you know, or even one,” he said, “And you’ll find that you have many different signatures.” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) had reportedly already tried a similar angle with Raffensperger, seeming to suggest it might be possible to toss ballots from counties with higher rates of signature disparities. Each of these efforts to invalidate votes reminded me of the angry words of one frustrated man separated from me by a plexiglass barrier while I was working as a volunteer election judge in Lombard, Ill., at the end of October: “What I think you should do is look at my ID and see that I am who I say I am.” My job that day was to take voters’ basic information, verify that the signature they provided matched the one the county had on file, and program the access cards each voter inserted into the machine. My fellow election judge and I had decided that the signature this man had provided wasn’t a close enough match to the one we had on file. He was holding his driver’s license in his right hand, the strongest possible proof of his identity. It made no sense to him that I was squinting at his hastily rendered signature instead of his government-issued photo ID. I attempted to explain what might happen to the electronically captured image of his signature after his vote was cast. The machine beside me would print a copy of it, which would go into a box by my elbow and eventually be returned to the county election division. If someone on a politician’s team pulled it out later and didn’t consider it a match, the party this man was registered to could lose a vote. His driver’s license would be no help in that scenario. “I want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” I said, “and I believe you are who you say you are.”

Full Article: I verified voters’ signatures. It’s too easy to disqualify them. – The Washington Post

Editorial: With perfect staging, Missouri Senator Hawley becomes ‘The Face of Sedition’ | Tony Messenger/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The picture was perfect, like one of President Donald Trump’s phone calls, to Ukraine or the Georgia secretary of state. Surely that’s what U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley and his ever-present image and political consultants thought after they saw it. The photo of the junior senator from Missouri was taken Wednesday by photographer Francis Chung of E&E News just before the siege on the U.S. Capitol. Among the attackers on the people’s building were Confederate flag-waving white supremacists who had been urged on by the president. The photo shows Hawley honoring, perhaps saluting, or worse, instigating, the rioters as they gathered outside the Capitol, immediately before the vandalism and mayhem would begin. The insurrectionists trying to overturn the results of the free, democratic and state-certified election of Joe Biden as the next president would shut down the House and the Senate. Five people would die. Hawley’s left fist is raised and tightly clenched. His face appears resolute as he greets the insurrectionists. Members of law enforcement appear in the background. His hair is neatly parted, but sticking up just a bit in front, showing his youthful energy. His suit jacket remains buttoned, because he works out, is fit and trim, and, well, presidential. Hawley’s mask dangles in his right hand by his side, barely visible, lest the patriots who contend that COVID-19 is a hoax think he is weak or will bow to authority. The consultants, hoping to turn their creation into a 2024 presidential contender, must have been pleased with their staging, especially with it coming on the heels of a Fox News interview in which news anchor Bret Baier turned Hawley into a blubbering sycophant when trying to get him to explain his endorsement of baseless conspiracy theories. The consultants were two steps ahead. Fox News is yesterday’s news, your grandfather’s right-wing propaganda. The real juice among Trumpites these days is Newsmax or One America News Network. Those anchors won’t challenge Hawley. They’ll cheer him on.

Full Article: Messenger: With perfect staging, Hawley becomes ‘The Face of Sedition’ | Tony Messenger | stltoday.com

Editorial: A reckoning is coming for President Trump’s Ohio enablers | The Cleveland Plain Dealer

The last time the U.S. Capitol was breached and attacked was in August 1814 by invading British forces during the War of 1812 — when the British set fire not just to the then-partially built seat of U.S. government but also to the White House. More than 200 years later, it took a mob incited by a president of the United States to mount only the second such hostile assault, during which at least four protesters died — a woman apparently shot to death by police and three who suffered what authorities described as fatal “medical emergencies.” Much of the attention is focused today on what the consequences should be for President Donald Trump himself for ginning up the conspiracy theories and lies about a stolen election that convinced his supporters that Trump had won — and that they needed to act to help him overturn the injustice. At a lengthy warm-up rally shortly before the assault on the Capitol, President Trump repeated those lies to a mob of his supporters, urging them to march on the Capitol and to “get rid of the weak Congress, people, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world; we got to get rid of them” — U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, being a key part of the House Republican leadership. Trump singled out Cheney because she stood up to him. Good for her. But what of Trump’s many GOP enablers, including those in solid-red Ohio? What should be their culpability for active partnership in the lies or for a toxic silence that let Trump’s false allegations that he’d won and that there had been a “steal” of the election metastasize and grow?

Full Article: A reckoning is coming for President Trump’s Ohio enablers – cleveland.com

Editorial: Resign, Senator Cruz. Your lies cost lives. | San Antonio Express-News

In Texas, we have our share of politicians who peddle wild conspiracy theories and reckless rhetoric aiming to inflame. Think U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert’s “terror baby” diatribes or his nonsensical vow not to wear a face mask until after he got COVID, which he promptly did. This editorial board tries to hold such shameful specimens to account. But we reserve special condemnation for the perpetrators among them who are of sound mind and considerable intellect — those who should damn well know better. None more than U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. A brilliant and frequent advocate before the U.S. Supreme Court and a former Texas solicitor general, Cruz knew exactly what he was doing, what he was risking and who he was inciting as he stood on the Senate floor Wednesday and passionately fed the farce of election fraud even as a seething crowd of believers was being whipped up by President Donald Trump a short distance away. Cruz, it should also be noted, knew exactly whose presidency he was defending. That of a man he called in 2016 a “narcissist,” a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral.” Cruz told senators that since nearly 40 percent of Americans believed the November election “was rigged” that the only remedy was to form an emergency task force to review the results — and if warranted, allow states to overturn Joe Biden’s victory and put their electoral votes in Trump’s column. Cruz deemed people’s distrust in the election “a profound threat to the country and to the legitimacy of any administrations that will come in the future.” What he didn’t acknowledge was how that distrust, which he overstated anyway, was fueled by Trump’s torrent of fantastical claims of voter fraud that were shown again and again not to exist. Cruz had helped spin that web of deception and now he was feigning concern that millions of Americans had gotten caught up in it.

Full Article: Editorial: Resign, Senator Cruz. Your lies cost lives. – ExpressNews.com

Assault on democracy: Senator Josh Hawley has blood on his hands in Capitol coup attempt | The Kansas City Star

No one other than President Donald Trump himself is more responsible for Wednesday’s coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol than one Joshua David Hawley, the 41-year-old junior senator from Missouri, who put out a fundraising appeal while the siege was underway. This, Sen. Hawley, is what law-breaking and destruction look like. This is not a protest, but a riot. One woman who was apparently part of the pro-Trump mob was fatally shot by Capitol Police as lawmakers took cover. Some of those whose actions Trump encouraged and later condoned brought along their Confederate flags. And no longer can it be asked, as George Will did recently of Hawley, “Has there ever been such a high ratio of ambition to accomplishment?” Hawley’s actions in the last week had such impact that he deserves an impressive share of the blame for the blood that’s been shed. Hawley was first to say that he would oppose the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. That action, motivated by ambition, set off much that followed — the rush of his fellow presidential aspirant Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other members of the Sedition Caucus to put a show of loyalty to the president above all else.

Full Article: MO Sen. Josh Hawley to blame for mob, Capitol coup attempt | The Kansas City Star

Editorial: I know how it feels to lose a stolen election. A real patriot would move on. | Stephanie Singer/The Washington Post

I know what a stolen election feels like. There’s rage at the enemies who got away with it. There’s grief over the dashed plans for your next term. There’s fear that all your accomplishments will be undone. There’s shock at the unexpected, unbelievable outcome. And there’s shame about what you might have done differently. I’m still certain it happened to me in 2015. I was finishing my first term on the Philadelphia Board of Elections. Four years earlier, I had earned the position with an upset win over a 36-year incumbent. I was looking forward to the campaign spotlight, and what I was sure would be another victory. In my case, a judge dealt the blow, ruling that my ballot petition was four valid signatures short of the required 1,000. (We had submitted about 1,500, but more than 1,000 of them were challenged.) I watched it happen over the course of a week: the expensive, mind-numbing arguments about the loops of the “g” in someone’s signature, the race against time to find people to come to court and testify that yes, they did sign, the unexpected overnight transformation of an informal count into a court order and, finally, the judge’s refusal to consider affidavits from 16 more signers, which would have been enough to keep me on the ballot. Even when an election isn’t stolen, it can still feel stolen. From inside the candidate bubble, no matter what, winning looks inevitable. In President Trump’s case — and in most cases, in my experience of investigating election rumors and data irregularities — the voter-by-voter, real-world evidence ends in wonky but legitimate details, like apartment numbers in a building with a FedEx office on the first floor being mistaken for post office boxes. To the losers, the 2020 presidential election feels stolen, but to any dispassionate observer, that case doesn’t hold water.

Full Article: I know how it feels to lose a stolen election. A real patriot would move on. – The Washington Post

Editorial: How Western media would have covered the storming of the U.S. Capitol if it had happened in another country | Karen Attiah/The Washington Post

Political violence and rioting exploded in the United States on Wednesday as extremists loyal to right-wing leader Donald Trump stormed the legislative building in the nation’s capital, Washington, forcing lawmakers to go into hiding in secure locations. The mob was incited to act by Trump himself. During a speech before thousands of his supporters earlier in the day, the president called the outcome of the November election an “egregious assault on our democracy” and urged people to “walk down to the Capitol” because “you will never take back our country with weakness.” Soon a crowd was breaking into the Capitol, charging police barricades and breaking windows to try to disrupt the certification of the presidential election that resulted in a clear defeat for Trump. A woman was fatally shot by security forces inside the Capitol, and three other people died under unspecified circumstances. An IED was found at the headquarters of the ruling Republican National Committee, and the nearby headquarters of the opposition Democratic National Committee was evacuated after the discovery of a suspicious package. As observers wrestled with whether to call the actions a “coup” or a “sparkling authoritarian takeover,” Trump supporters terrorized lawmakers and forced them to stop the certification of the election. Hundreds were seen looting and chanting slogans while some police officers passively looked on. Many Americans, including prominent journalists, politicians and security officials, expressed dismay at the unfolding events, even though right-wing groups had described their plans online and some had even printed “CIVIL WAR” T-shirts to mark the occasion. Of course political and racial violence have played a part in the history of the former British colony for centuries and have particularly been inflamed in the past four years.

Full Article: Opinion | How Western media would have covered the storming of the U.S. Capitol if it had happened in another country – The Washington Post

Editorial: Invoke 25th Amendment. Trump forfeited moral authority as president | USA Today

Ever since Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, Americans have wondered to what depths he would sink in his efforts to overturn the results and cling to power. On Wednesday, they got their answer: The president of the United States incited a mob of supporters and sicced them on the Capitol, just as Congress was about to count the states’ electoral votes and affirm Joe Biden’s victory. In the ensuing chaos, the hallowed chambers were desecrated, the ceremonial process was disrupted, one woman was fatally shot and four others died, including a Capitol police officer. By egging on this deadly insurrection and hailing the rioters (“We love you, you’re very special.”), the president forfeited his moral authority to hold the nation’s highest office, even for 13 more days. More urgent, he reinforced profound questions, and raised new ones, about his judgment and ability to fulfill his most minimal responsibilities to the country he is supposed to lead and protect. Trump’s continuance in office poses unacceptable risks to America. Foreign adversaries sense disarray and weakness. People close to Trump say his mental state is fragile. Even though he committed early Thursday to an orderly transfer of power, who knows what pardons he might grant, what orders he might issue as commander in chief and what other desperate measures he might take before Jan. 20? Resignation would be the preferable means for Trump to depart; Richard Nixon quit when Republican elders told him the jig was up amid the Watergate scandal. But there is no reason to believe that Trump will leave voluntarily, even in response to entreaties from top aides and GOP lawmakers.

Full Article: Invoke 25th Amendment. Trump forfeited moral authority as president