National: Manchin, Sinema join with GOP in rejecting attempt to change filibuster rules, effectively killing Democratic voting bill | Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post

The year-long Democratic push for federal voting rights legislation died in the Senate on Wednesday night, after Republicans blocked an elections bill for the fifth time in six months and Democrats failed to unite their caucus behind a plan to rewrite the Senate’s rules and pass it anyway. The final clash, which has been brewing since Democrats won congressional majorities a year ago as Republican legislatures in 19 states embarked on a campaign to roll back election access, began with an evening vote to close debate on a sprawling voting rights bill. That vote, at the Senate’s traditional 60-vote margin for legislation, failed on party lines. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) then moved to reconsider the legislation to propose a rules change allowing for the bill’s advancement with a simple majority of 51 votes. The Senate rejected that maneuver 52 to 48, with two Democrats, Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), joining all 50 Republicans in opposition.

Full Article: Manchin, Sinema join with GOP in rejecting attempt to change filibuster rules, effectively killing Democratic voting bill – The Washington Post

National: A New Digital Army Is Counting Votes to Prove Trump’s Big Lie | David Gilbert/Vice

Once you had to sit in an empty auditorium for weeks counting millions of paper ballots to take part in a sham “audit” of the 2020 election. Now, all you need is a laptop and an internet connection. That’s all thanks to a new digital platform recruiting volunteers to act as judge and jury over the validity of votes cast in the 2020 election. The platform is called Polaris Recount, and anyone can now simply sign up to become a “citizen adjudicator” and look at digital images of votes cast in the election and decide if minor smudges, errant fold lines, or slightly askew ballots are evidence of some enormous sinister plot to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump. Digital ballot images are routinely reviewed as part of the official election audit process, typically done by automated software looking to corroborate the results of a specific race. But in the case of Polaris, the process is being conducted on a nationwide scale, with hundreds of amateur sleuths trying to prove a conspiracy theory about widespread election fraud. Launched in late November, the platform has seen signups “gaining exponentially” in recent weeks, according to the man behind the system, who told VICE News that around 1,000 volunteers—who come from all corners of the U.S. and some even from overseas—are now spending their days looking at digital images of ballots cast in Lea County, New Mexico, which is the race currently being assessed on the platform.

Full Article: A New Digital Army Is Counting Votes to Prove Trump’s Big Lie

National: Bipartisan U.S. Senate group discusses scaled-back elections bill | David Morgan/Reuters

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is discussing a scaled-back law focused on safeguarding election results and protecting election officials from harassment following Democrats’ twin defeats on a voting-rights bill. Lawmakers led by Republican Senator Susan Collins and including conservative Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, are due to meet virtually on Friday to discuss reform of the 1887 Electoral Count Act, sometimes called the ECA, which allows members of Congress to dispute presidential election results. The ECA provided the basis for an effort by former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies to overturn the presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and interrupted the certification of election results. Collins, who said her group includes six Democrats, told reporters that the aim is “an election reform bill that is truly bipartisan, that would address many of the problems that arose on Jan. 6 and that would help restore confidence in our elections.”

Full Article: Bipartisan U.S. Senate group discusses scaled-back elections bill | Reuters

National: House subcommittee questions election security, voting rights | Michael Korsh/UPI

With the 2022 midterm elections 10 months away, members of a House homeland security subcommittee on Thursday questioned the security of the 2020 presidential election and the upcoming midterms. During the hearing of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Innovation Subcommittee, Chairwoman Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y, cited two statistics that she said point to a precarious election landscape for 2022: One in three voters questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election according to a recent University of Massachusetts-Amherst survey, and one in three election officials feel unsafe in their job from a June survey by the Brennan Center for Justice. Clarke said she defines election security as “making sure that every eligible voter who wants to cast a vote is able to cast it and making sure that vote is counted as it was cast.” She said she plans to introduce legislation that would authorize the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to further monitor and respond to misinformation and disinformation threats through efforts like the agency’s Rumor Control website.

Full Article: House subcommittee questions election security, voting rights – UPI.com

National: As Giuliani coordinated plan for Trump electoral votes in states Biden won, some electors balked | Beth Reinhard, Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, Emma Brown and Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

On Dec. 14, 2020, the day of the electoral college vote, Republican electors convened in the capitals of five states that Joe Biden had won. They declared themselves “duly elected and qualified” and sent signed certificates to Washington purporting to affirm Donald Trump as the actual victor. At the time, the gatherings in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin — all states that had officially approved Biden electors — were widely derided as political stunts intended to bolster Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud. Understanding the origins of the rival slates has now become a focus of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to people familiar with the panel’s activities. Two Democratic attorneys general have asked federal prosecutors in recent days to investigate whether crimes were committed in assembling or submitting the Trump slates. The Trump electors gathered in plain sight, assisted by campaign officials and Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said publicly that the rival slates were necessary and appropriate. Internally, Giuliani oversaw the effort, according to former campaign officials and party leaders who, like some others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. One of the people familiar with the plan said Giuliani was assisted at times by an anchor from the right-wing network One America News.

Full Article: As Giuliani coordinated plan for Trump electoral votes in states Biden won, some electors balked – The Washington Post

National: Rise of right-wing apps seen worsening midterm disinformation | Gopal Ratnam/Roll Call

A growing constellation of right-wing social media apps and sites are seeing their user bases grow, creating an echo chamber that experts fear will promote disinformation and outright lies about the midterm elections. A major concern: increased calls for violence. What began in the past few years as fringe and sparsely populated alternatives to established social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has become a torrent. While apps like Parler and Gab have been around for about four years, positioning themselves as conservative alternatives to Twitter, more sites and apps have launched in the last year — since President Donald Trump left office while fanning the political flames with his false claims of a “stolen” election. Rumble, which went public through a special purpose acquisition company, positions itself as an alternative to YouTube. Gettr, launched by Trump’s post-presidency aide Jason Miller, who was an informal adviser to the 45th president, is a Twitter-like platform. And Trump himself has announced plans to launch a new social media platform called Truth Social.

Full Article: Rise of right-wing apps seen worsening midterm disinformation – Roll Call

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

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

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

National: Senate Democrats Press Ahead With Debate on Voting Rights Bill | Catie Edmondson/The New York Times

Senate Democrats plan to press ahead this week with an effort to push new voting rights protections through Congress, in an all but doomed attempt to enact a key piece of President Biden’s agenda that has been undercut by members of his own party. The Senate on Tuesday will begin to debate legislation that combines two separate bills already passed by the House — the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — and folds them into an unrelated measure. The move would allow the Senate to bring the bill directly to the floor, avoiding an initial filibuster. But that strategy would still allow Republicans to block it from coming to a final vote, and Democrats lack the unanimous support needed in their party to change Senate rules to muscle through the legislation themselves. Still, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said late last week that Democrats would forge ahead anyway, forcing Republicans to publicly declare their opposition to the bill. “We all have to be recorded at this moment in time about where are we in protecting the right to vote,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “Right now, it doesn’t look like it has the votes to pass, but we’re going to cancel our Martin Luther King Day recess and be there this week because we think it’s so important for the country.”

Full Article: Senate Democrats Press Ahead With Debate on Voting Rights Bill – The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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