National: How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections | Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

Lonnie Hollis has been a member of the Troup County election board in West Georgia since 2013. A Democrat and one of two Black women on the board, she has advocated Sunday voting, helped voters on Election Days and pushed for a new precinct location at a Black church in a nearby town. But this year, Ms. Hollis will be removed from the board, the result of a local election law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican. Previously, election board members were selected by both political parties, county commissioners and the three biggest municipalities in Troup County. Now, the G.O.P.-controlled county commission has the sole authority to restructure the board and appoint all the new members. “I speak out and I know the laws,” Ms. Hollis said in an interview. “The bottom line is they don’t like people that have some type of intelligence and know what they’re doing, because they know they can’t influence them.” Ms. Hollis is not alone. Across Georgia, members of at least 10 county election boards have been removed, had their position eliminated or are likely to be kicked off through local ordinances or new laws passed by the state legislature. At least five are people of color and most are Democrats — though some are Republicans — and they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans.

Full Article: How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections – The New York Times

National: Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl | Jordain Carney/The Hill

Democrats are racing against the clock as they try to strike an internal deal on a sweeping election overhaul that can unify their 50 members. The Senate will vote Tuesday on the For the People Act, legislation that is guaranteed to hit a Republican filibuster and fall short of the 60 votes needed to advance. But Democrats hope that by banding together they can shift the public spotlight on GOP opposition after weeks of headlines about their own divisions. Speaking from the Senate floor on Thursday, Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) previewed the strategy, arguing that the Republican Party had become a “hornet’s nest of conspiracy theories and voter suppression in the states” and that “the Democratic Party is the only party standing up for democracy right now.” “Next week, the Senate will have this debate. Democrats will bring forward legislation to protect voting rights and safeguard our democracy. And we are going to see where everyone stands. Everyone,” Schumer said.

Full Article: Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl | TheHill

National: Senate Democrats brace for bill’s defeat amid GOP resistance | Clare Foran and Lauren Fox/CNN

Senate Democrats are on track to suffer a stinging defeat Tuesday with Republican opposition expected to sink a voting and election bill that Democrats have made a signature priority, an outcome that will underscore the limits of the party’s power with the narrowest possible Senate majority. Democrats have set up a key test vote on the bill that they have pitched as a necessary counter to state-level efforts to restrict voting access, but Republicans have united against it, decrying it as a partisan power grab and a federal overreach into state voting and election systems. Democrats have also faced pushback over the legislation from a member of their own caucus: pivotal swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Failure of the bill to move forward would be a major blow for Democrats that will likely trigger a fresh outpouring of calls from progressives to eliminate the legislative filibuster, which requires most bills to get the votes of at least 10 Republicans given the current Senate makeup. But the votes are not there to eliminate the filibuster with Manchin and several other moderate Democrats opposed. The effort by Democrats to pass the voting legislation comes in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and as Republican-controlled legislatures have pressed ahead with new state laws imposing limits on voting. As of May, state legislators in 48 states had introduced more than 380 bills with restrictive voting provisions, according to a tally from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Full Article: Voting rights: Senate Democrats brace for bill’s defeat amid GOP resistance – CNNPolitics

National: ‘Unreasonably’ long lines to vote would be eliminated under proposal from Democratic lawmakers | Alex Woodward/The Independent

In the wake of Republican election losses and the GOP’s unfounded narrative of widespread voter fraud, more than a dozen states have passed sweeping elections reform laws that make it harder to vote, including criminalising handing out food and water to people waiting in long lines to cast their ballot at the polls. Democratic US Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have introduced a bill that intends to push back on those efforts. The legislation would “end hours-long lines at polling places that suppress hundreds of thousands of American votes, and to restore our Constitutional rights to vote in free and fair elections”. Scenes of long lines at voting precincts across the US have dominated Election Day coverage in recent years. Roughly 3 million voters waited 30 minutes or longer to cast their ballot in the 2018 elections, surpassing the acceptable threshold for wait times set by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. With the widespread closures of Election Day polling locations and the consolidation of voting precincts, voting rights advocates have warned that longer wait times could suppress voters who now face diminishing options to vote early or by mail to avoid crowded in-person voting.

Full Article: ‘Unreasonably’ long lines to vote would be eliminated under proposal from Democratic lawmakers | The Independent

National: ‘Italygate’ election conspiracy theory was pushed by two firms led by woman who also falsely claimed $30 million mansion was hers | Jon Swaine and Emma Brown/The Washington Post

Late last December, as President Donald Trump pressed senior officials to find proof of election fraud, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows emailed acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen a letter detailing an outlandish theory of how an Italian defense contractor had conspired with U.S. intelligence to rig the 2020 presidential contest. The letter, which was among records released by Congress this past week, was printed under the letterhead of USAerospace Partners, a little-known Virginia aviation company. In early January, a second Virginia firm, the Institute for Good Governance, and a partner organization released a statement from an Italian attorney who claimed that a hacker had admitted involvement in the supposed conspiracy. According to the conspiracy theory known as “Italygate,” people working for the Italian defense contractor, in coordination with senior CIA officials, used military satellites to switch votes from Trump to Joe Biden and swing the result of the election. Though her name was not mentioned in either document, both Virginia organizations are led by Michele Roosevelt Edwards, according to state corporate filings reviewed by The Washington Post. Edwards is a former Republican congressional candidate who built a reputation as an advocate for the Somali people and as someone who could negotiate with warlords and pirates in the war-torn region.

Full Article: ‘Italygate’ election conspiracy theory was pushed by two firms led by woman who also falsely claimed $30 million mansion was hers – The Washington Post

Arizona election review is not simply an exercise in ‘transparency’ | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

There’s a guy at work who doesn’t like you. Who has never liked you. He sees you as a threat and is convinced that you’ve been able to succeed because you’ve done something underhanded — what, he can’t say, but that doesn’t stop him from spreading rumors around your workplace anyway. Last year, you were both up for promotion. The new position was an important role in the company and both of you went through repeated interviews with company officials scrutinizing your work records. You emerged on top. Your nemesis’s crusade against you suddenly went into overdrive. Worse, he got his best friend, who works in human resources, to open an investigation of your bid for the role — an investigation led by your nemesis’s friend, someone who in the past has publicly agreed with your nemesis’s allegations. The H.R. guy gets to work, assuring everyone that he’ll explore every rumor anyone has raised about you — solely, he assures you with solemnity, to be able to rule everything out. The claim your nemesis made about your having worked remotely from the International Space Station for a month? He has a device that will detect the presence of jet fuel residue. The H.R. guy asks that you step out of your workspace for a week or two and he takes possession of your work computer and all of your files so that he can examine every aspect of how you’ve performed. He has never done this sort of investigation before, but he insists that he will be objective in his review.

Full Article: Why the Arizona election review is not simply an exercise in ‘transparency’ – The Washington Post

Biden links Juneteenth to voting rights as he signs new federal holiday into law | Alex Woodward/The Independent

President Joe Biden has signed a bill into law creating Juneteenth – the nation’s oldest annual commemoration of slavery’s end – as a national holiday. Following the proposal’s swift passage in Congress, from a unanimous vote in the Senate on Tuesday and debate and passage with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the president signed the measure into law on Thursday, two days before 2021’s Juneteenth celebrations. Effective this week, federal workers will receive a paid holiday on 19 June, or, if it falls on a weekend, the closest Friday or Monday. In remarks from the White House before a bill signing, the president said Juneteenth “will join the others of our national celebrations” for “our independence, our labourers who built this nation, our service members” but he underscored the nation’s urgent and ongoing duty to live up to its promise of equality. He pointed to his administration’s efforts to combat and prosecute discrimination, promote equity in healthcare and education, and protect voting rights against “an assault that offends our very democracy” from partisan legislation undermining ballot access across the US.

Full Article: Biden links Juneteenth to voting rights as he signs new federal holiday into law | The Independent

National: New emails detail Trump’s efforts to have Justice Department take up his false election-fraud claims | Karoun Demirjian and Matt Zapotosky/The Washington Post

President Donald Trump’s staff began sending emails to Jeffrey Rosen, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, asking him to embrace Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election at least 10 days before Rosen assumed the role of acting attorney general, according to new emails disclosed Tuesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. On the same day the electoral college met to certify the election results — which was also the day Trump announced that William P. Barr would be stepping down as attorney general — the president’s assistant sent Rosen an email with a list of complaints concerning the way the election had been carried out in Antrim County, Mich. The file included a “forensic analysis” of the Dominion Voting Systems machines the county employed, alleging they were “intentionally and purposefully” calibrated to create fraudulent results. It also included “talking points” that could be used to counter any arguments “against us.” “It’s indicative of what the machines can and did do to move votes,” the document Trump sent to Rosen reads. “We believe it has happened everywhere.” The claims were false, based on a report compiled by Allied Security Operations Group, a company led by a Republican businessman who pushed baseless allegations that the 2020 election was stolen. The email — one of several previously undisclosed records released by the Oversight Committee — sheds light on the type of pressure Trump put on the Justice Department to take up his crusade against Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

Full Article: New emails detail Trump’s efforts to have Justice Department take up his false election-fraud claims – The Washington Post

National: We’re learning more about how Trump leveraged his power to bolster his election fantasies | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

On Dec. 14, 2020, about 2,500 people died of covid-19, the disease for which a vaccine was just beginning to be deployed. On that day, more than 200,000 people contracted the coronavirus, a number equal to 13 out of every 20,000 Americans. But in the White House, President Donald Trump’s focus was largely elsewhere: on his desperate effort to overturn the results of the presidential election that had been settled more than a month before. At 5:39 p.m., Trump announced that his attorney general, William P. Barr, would be leaving his administration. The timing was odd, given that Trump had only a month left in office. But Trump, we learned on Tuesday, wasted no time in getting Barr’s replacement up to speed on the president’s primary concern. About 40 minutes before Trump’s announcement about Barr, the president “sent an email via his assistant to Jeffrey A. Rosen, the incoming acting attorney general, that contained documents purporting to show evidence of election fraud in northern Michigan — the same claims that a federal judge had thrown out a week earlier in a lawsuit filed by one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers,” the New York Times’s Katie Benner reported. Trump had been publicly focused on the results in Antrim County, Mich., a few hours earlier. “WOW,” he tweeted at about 3 p.m. “This report shows massive fraud. Election changing result!” The report to which he was referring — and which was forwarded to Rosen — was compiled by an activist named Russell Ramsland, who was central to the false claims about the election that were floating around, The Washington Post reported in May. There was a misreporting of results in the county, a function of an error that occurred when some ballots were updated to include new candidates. The error was caught and explained within 48 hours of the election — but Antrim became a focal point of conspiracy theories about voting machines and fraud anyway. (An audit completed a few days after Trump’s tweet validated the corrected results.)

Full Article: We’re learning more about how Trump leveraged his power to bolster his election fantasies – The Washington Post

National: The sycophantic inner circle egging on Trump – and fueling his big lie | Adam Gabbatt/The Guardian

On 7 November 2020, after several days of vote-counting, Donald Trump lost the US presidential election. More than 60 unsuccessful lawsuits and one insurrection later, Trump has still lost the election, but the former president refuses to accept defeat. Egged on by a group of sycophants and fantasists, including a small-time Pennsylvania politician, a host on a far-right news network, and the CEO of a pillow company, Trump now plans to hold rallies at the end of June where he is likely to continue his fraudulent claims of a stolen election. Despite the election having been repeatedly investigated and declared “the most secure in American history” by a group of experts, the former president is said to be convinced the election result will be overturned. Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow and a Trump confidant who claims to have evidence that shows voting machines were hacked by China, told the Guardian Trump would be returned to office by August or – at the latest – September. “With me they just keep saying: ‘It’s a conspiracy, Mike Lindell – he’s crazy, blah blah blah,’ all this stuff,” Lindell said. “But I think it gives the whole country hope because they know me and they know I wouldn’t be out there if I wasn’t 100%.” As are those in his close circle fighting a series of quixotic battles on his behalf.

Full Article: The sycophantic inner circle egging on Trump – and fueling his big lie | Donald Trump | The Guardian

National: ‘Potential crisis for democracy’: Threats to election workers could spur mass retirements | Zach Montellaro/Politico

State and local election offices fear they are set to face a wave of retirements and resignations after confronting the dual burdens of a pandemic and a rise in conspiracy-fueled threats. A new survey of over 200 local election officials — the people responsible for running polling places, maintaining voter rolls and counting and certifying the results of elections — found that roughly one-third were either very or somewhat concerned about “being harassed on the job” or “feeling unsafe” at work during the 2020 election cycle. Nearly 4-in-10 respondents in the survey, which was conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice and Bipartisan Policy Center, reported the same level of concern about “facing pressure to certify election results.” Election workers and watchdogs say that after these officials preserved the integrity of the 2020 election despite enormous pressure from former President Donald Trump and allies, the climate could kick off a “brain drain” in their field that would pose a threat to the administration of future elections if longtime election workers are replaced by those with less experience — or by believers in the conspiracy theories about the 2020 results Trump and his allies promote.

Full Article: ‘Potential crisis for democracy’: Threats to election workers could spur mass retirements – POLITICO

National: GOP crushes Manchin’s hopes for elections compromise | Burgess Everett/Politico

Senate Republicans spent months praising Joe Manchin for his insistence on cross-party compromise. Next week they will almost surely end his hopes for a bipartisan deal on elections. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believed all 50 Republicans would oppose Sen. Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) slimmed-down elections compromise, which focuses on expanding early voting and ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections. And it’s not clear there’s a single Republican vote to even begin debate on the matter, potentially dooming Manchin’s proposals before they can even make it into the bill. Both Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said they would likely oppose a procedural vote next week that would bring Democrats’ massive elections reform bill to the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Senate could amend the bill to adopt Manchin’s changes. But Romney said supporting that strategy “doesn’t make a lot of sense to me” and Murkowski said “Joe hasn’t briefed me on any of this.” “It needs to be blocked,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who praised Manchin last week for “saving our country” in encouraging bipartisanship. “I’m not optimistic that they could make enough changes to that to make it a fair bill. It would usurp the rights of the states.”

Full Article: GOP crushes Manchin’s hopes for elections compromise – POLITICO

National: Voting in America: The Urgency of Legitimacy | Clay S. Jenkinson/Governing

“The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken.” That from then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Jan. 6, 2021, in remarks intended to push back against those who were attempting to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. “If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.” Here we are, six months later. The 2020 national election has been certified in all fifty states. Recounts, audits and more than sixty court challenges have been adjudicated and resolved, and nothing in any of those post-election checks and balances has revealed any significant voter fraud. Joe Biden won the election. He is the 46th president of the United States. Republican political leaders now routinely speak of Joe Biden as the legitimate president and work with his administration every day, every week, to address national concerns. And yet …. Some of those same Republican leaders pander to the most ardent Trump supporters by seeming to agree with them that the election was stolen, or that there were enough irregularities to justify skepticism that the election was legitimate. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on May 24 indicated that more than 60 percent of Republican respondents continue to assert that the election was stolen. Perhaps more alarming, according to the same poll, 23 percent of Republican respondents agreed that “the government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,” that “there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders,” and that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” You know the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times!

Full Article: Voting in America: The Urgency of Legitimacy

Garland announces expansion of Justice Department’s voting rights unit, vowing to scrutinize GOP-backed voting restrictions and ballot reviews | Amy Gardner and Sean Sullivan/The Washington Post

Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged Friday to double the size of the Justice Department’s voting rights enforcement staff to combat efforts to restrict ballot access and prosecute those who threaten or harm election workers. In an expansive speech that invoked the nation’s long and, at times, faltering progress toward ensuring every American’s right to vote, Garland likened the fight against efforts to curtail ballot access to past campaigns enshrining voting rights for Black Americans in the Constitution and the seminal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Garland said the additional trial attorneys, which he plans to hire over the coming 30 days, will scrutinize new laws and existing practices across the nation for potential discrimination against Americans of color, including in new measures GOP state lawmakers are pushing. They will enforce provisions of the Voting Rights Act by challenging such laws or practices in court — and prosecute anyone found to intimidate or threaten violence against election officials. The expanded unit will also monitor the growing number of post-election ballot reviews being called for around the country by supporters of former president Donald Trump in search of signs of violations of federal laws, Garland said, and will watch over upcoming redistricting efforts to call out discriminatory practices. “To meet the challenge of the current moment, we must rededicate the resources of the Department of Justice to a critical part of its original mission: Enforcing federal law to protect the franchise of all eligible voters,” Garland said in his address to department employees. He added: “Where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act.”

Full Article: Garland announces expansion of Justice Department’s voting rights unit, vowing to scrutinize GOP-backed voting restrictions and ballot reviews – The Washington Post

National: How Republicans came to embrace the big lie of a stolen election | Sam Levine/The Guardian

Just a few days after the polls closed in Florida’s 2018 general election, Rick Scott, then the state’s governor, held a press conference outside the governor’s mansion and made a stunning accusation. Scott was running for a US Senate seat, and as more votes were counted, his lead was dwindling. Targeting two of the state’s most Democratic-leaning counties, Scott said there was “rampant fraud”. “Every person in Florida knows exactly what is happening. Their goal is to mysteriously keep finding more votes until the election turns out the way they want,” he said, directing the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate. “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.” Scott eventually won the election, and his comments eventually faded. But the episode offered an alarming glimpse of the direction the Republican party was turning. A little over two years later, fanned repeatedly by Donald Trump throughout 2020, the myth of a stolen American election has shifted from a fringe idea to one being embraced by the Republican party. The so-called big lie – the idea that the election was stolen from Trump – has transformed from a tactical strategy to a guiding ideology. For years, civil rights groups and academics have raised alarm at the way Republican officials have deployed false claims of voter fraud as a political strategy to justify laws that restrict access to the ballot. But the way Republicans have embraced the myth of a stolen election since Trump’s loss in November, is new, they say, marking a dangerous turn from generalized allegations of fraud to refusing to accept the legitimacy of elections.

Full Article: How Republicans came to embrace the big lie of a stolen election | Republicans | The Guardian

Congress likely won’t take action on the growing threats to election integrity, leaving election workers vulnerable to criminal prosecution and results open to partisan tampering | Grace Panetta/Business Insider

Congress will almost certainly sit out the ongoing high-stakes fight within states over how people vote, and who has power over how elections are run. The Senate is gearing up for a showdown over voting rights and the filibuster at the end of June, amid the backdrop Republican state legislators passing an unprecedented number of laws tightening rules for voters and election officials. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is bringing the For The People Act (known as HR. 1 in the House and S. 1 in the Senate), Democrats’ 800-plus page flagship voting rights and democracy reform bill, up for a floor vote the week of June 21. The chances of Congress passing that legislation went from extraordinarily slim to none after moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin formally came out against the bill in a June 6 op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Within the current Senate filibuster rules (which Manchin also supports), the bill, which has no GOP support, would need Manchin and at least 10 Republican votes to pass the US Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also threw cold water on H.R. 4, Manchin and Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s proposed bipartisan alternative to the For The People Act that would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Full Article: Congress Likely Won’t Take Action on GOP Election Subversion

National: G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We Don’t Have a Voice Anymore’ | Maggie Astor/The New York Times

It was 1991, she recalled, and she was a 21-year-old learning to live independently with cerebral palsy, which she has had since birth. She waited in line at her polling place in Austin, Texas, for hours. Then she waited for a poll worker who could help her complete her ballot. Finally, the worker refused to take her aside, making her name her preferred candidates in full view and earshot of other voters. Ms. Angel, who has limited use of her limbs and a speech impairment and uses a foot-operated power wheelchair, left understanding that, unlike other Americans, she couldn’t vote privately. It was only when she began working for the Coalition of Texans With Disabilities in 2010, and learned about the adaptive equipment available to her, that she was able to vote independently — an experience that brought her to tears. Now, Ms. Angel is watching the Texas Legislature pursue sweeping voting restrictions, afraid that she and others with disabilities might again be deterred from voting. “They’re really making it so we don’t have a voice anymore,” she said. “And without that, we can’t get the things that we need to survive.” The Texas legislation Democrats blocked but Republicans  in a special session, is one of a series of Republican voting bills that would disproportionately affect people with disabilities. The Wisconsin Senate approved three last week with more to come, though unlike in Texas, the governor there is a Democrat and is expected to veto them. Georgia and Florida have enacted similar measures.

Full Article: G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We Don’t Have a Voice Anymore’ – The New York Times

National: In Congress, Republicans Shrug at Warnings of Democracy in Peril | Jonathan Weisman/The New York Times

Senator Christopher S. Murphy concedes that political rhetoric in the nation’s capital can sometimes stray into hysteria, but when it comes to the precarious state of American democracy, he insisted he was not exaggerating the nation’s tilt toward authoritarianism. “Democrats are always at risk of being hyperbolic,” said Mr. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut. “I don’t think there’s a risk when it comes to the current state of democratic norms.” After the norm-shattering presidency of Donald J. Trump, the violence-inducing bombast over a stolen election, the pressuring of state vote counters, the Capitol riot and the flood of voter curtailment laws rapidly being enacted in Republican-run states, Washington has found itself in an anguished state. Almost daily, Democrats warn that Republicans are pursuing racist, Jim Crow-inspired voter suppression efforts to disenfranchise tens of millions of citizens, mainly people of color, in a cynical effort to grab power. Metal detectors sit outside the House chamber to prevent lawmakers — particularly Republicans who have boasted of their intention to carry guns everywhere — from bringing weaponry to the floor. Democrats regard their Republican colleagues with suspicion, believing that some of them collaborated with the rioters on Jan. 6. Republican lawmakers have systematically downplayed or dismissed the dangers, with some breezing over the attack on the Capitol as a largely peaceful protest, and many saying the state voting law changes are to restore “integrity” to the process, even as they give credence to Mr. Trump’s false claims of rampant fraud in the 2020 election. They shrug off Democrats’ warnings of grave danger as the overheated language of politics as usual. “I haven’t understood for four or five years why we are so quick to spin into a place where part of the country is sure that we no longer have the strength to move forward, as we always have in the past,” said Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Republican leadership, noting that the passions of Republican voters today match those of Democratic voters after Mr. Trump’s triumph. “Four years ago, there were people in the so-called resistance showing up in all of my offices every week, some of whom were chaining themselves to the door.”

Full Article: In Congress, Republicans Shrug at Warnings of Democracy in Peril – The New York Times

National: Trump Pressed Official to Wield Justice Department to Back Election Claims | Katie Benner/The New York Times

An hour before President Donald J. Trump announced in December that William P. Barr would step down as attorney general, the president began pressuring Mr. Barr’s eventual replacement to have the Justice Department take up his false claims of election fraud. Mr. Trump sent an email via his assistant to Jeffrey A. Rosen, the incoming acting attorney general, that contained documents purporting to show evidence of election fraud in northern Michigan — the same claims that a federal judge had thrown out a week earlier in a lawsuit filed by one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers. Another email from Mr. Trump to Mr. Rosen followed two weeks later, again via the president’s assistant, that included a draft of a brief that Mr. Trump wanted the Justice Department to file to the Supreme Court. It argued, among other things, that state officials had used the pandemic to weaken election security and pave the way for widespread election fraud. The draft echoed claims in a lawsuit in Texas by the Trump-allied state attorney general that the justices had thrown out, and a lawyer who had helped on that effort later tried with increasing urgency to track down Mr. Rosen at the Justice Department, saying he had been dispatched by Mr. Trump to speak with him. The emails, turned over by the Justice Department to investigators on the House Oversight Committee and obtained by The New York Times, show how Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Rosen to put the power of the Justice Department behind lawsuits that had already failed to try to prove his false claims that extensive voter fraud had affected the election results. They are also the latest example of Mr. Trump’s frenzied drive to subvert the election results in the final weeks of his presidency, including ratcheting up pressure on the Justice Department. And they show that Mr. Trump flouted an established anticorruption norm that the Justice Department acts independently of the White House on criminal investigations or law enforcement actions, a gap that steadily eroded during Mr. Trump’s term. The documents dovetail with emails around the same time from Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, asking Mr. Rosen to examine unfounded conspiracy theories about the election.

Full Article: Trump Pressed Official to Wield Justice Dept. to Back Election Claims – The New York Times

National: As hope for federal voting rights rescue dims, state Democrats, advocates turn up the heat | Jane C. Timm/NBC

The Texas Democrats who blocked a Republican-backed voting restrictions bill from becoming state law at the eleventh hour last month will head to the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to lobby senators as part of a broader, last-ditch effort to rally support for a major voter rights bill. Nearly two dozen state Democrats plan to lobby senators in behalf of the For the People Act, a broad bill that would create a federal floor of voting rights access and kneecap laws like the one proposed in Texas and already enacted in other Republican-led states. The schedule is still in flux, but a source with knowledge of the plans said the Texas legislators are scheduled to meet with Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both of Texas. They will also meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and hope to meet with Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., in their push for federal voting rights legislation. They will head to the White House for a previously announced meeting Wednesday with Vice President Kamala Harris, who is leading the Biden administration’s push to protect voting rights. “This is, in my mind, a now-or-never moment. It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said Sunday. “On that last day” of the Texas House session, “on that gloomy Sunday, we knew we didn’t have the votes, but we found a will, and we found a way.”

Full Article: As hope for federal voting rights rescue dims, state Democrats, advocates turn up the heat

National: Exodus of election officials raises concerns of partisanship | Anthony Izaguirre/Associated Press

There is no shortage of job openings for local election officials in Michigan. It’s the same in Pennsylvania. Wisconsin, too. After facing threats and intimidation during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, and now the potential of new punishments in certain states, county officials who run elections are quitting or retiring early. The once quiet job of election administration has become a political minefield thanks to the baseless claims of widespread fraud that continue to be pushed by many in the Republican Party. The exits raise a pressing question: Who will take these jobs? Barb Byrum, clerk of Ingham County, Michigan, has an idea. “These conspiracy theorists are in it for the long haul. They’re in it to completely crumble our republic, and they’re looking at these election administrator positions,” said Byrum, a Democrat. “They’re playing the long game.” It’s difficult to quantify exactly how many election officials across the country have left their posts and why, since the departures are not generally tallied. Retirements also are common after presidential elections. But in places that do track such information, along with anecdotal accounts from county officials, it is clear that many have recently left because of the newfound partisan rancor around the jobs and the threats many local election workers faced leading up to the November election and afterward as former President Donald Trump and his allies challenged the results.

Full Article: Exodus of election officials raises concerns of partisanship

Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers | Linda So/Reuters

Late on the night of April 24, the wife of Georgia’s top election official got a chilling text message: “You and your family will be killed very slowly.” A week earlier, Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had received another anonymous text: “We plan for the death of you and your family every day.” That followed an April 5 text warning. A family member, the texter told her, was “going to have a very unfortunate incident.” Those messages, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the continuing barrage of threats and intimidation against election officials and their families months after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s November election defeat. While reports of threats against Georgia officials emerged in the heated weeks after the voting, Reuters interviews with more than a dozen election workers and top officials – and a review of disturbing texts, voicemails and emails that they and their families received – reveal the previously hidden breadth and severity of the menacing tactics. Trump’s relentless false claims that the vote was “rigged” against him sparked a campaign to terrorize election officials nationwide – from senior officials such as Raffensperger to the lowest-level local election workers. The intimidation has been particularly severe in Georgia, where Raffensperger and other Republican election officials refuted Trump’s stolen-election claims. The ongoing harassment could have far-reaching implications for future elections by making the already difficult task of recruiting staff and poll workers much harder, election officials say.

Full Article: Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers

Election laws, 2024, and the future of US democracy | Peter Grier/CSMonitor

It’s November 2024. The U.S. presidential election is over. The battle over who won is just beginning. Ballot totals show the incumbent leading the national vote by a few percentage points. His margin in the Electoral College is smaller than in 2020, but seems clear. Still, the challenger and his supporters are mounting a furious challenge to an election they say was close enough to have been tipped by fraud. … Nationwide, an organized corps of partisan poll watchers, taking advantage of laws passed since 2020 that allow them greater access, have filed hundreds of affidavits claiming suspicious voter behavior. Georgia is an epicenter of this dispute. The State Election Board, with all members appointed by the Republican-controlled legislature, issues a statement saying populous Fulton County was “rife with fraud.” Nationwide, an organized corps of partisan poll watchers, taking advantage of laws passed since 2020 that allow them greater access, have filed hundreds of affidavits claiming suspicious voter behavior. Georgia is an epicenter of this dispute. The State Election Board, with all members appointed by the Republican-controlled legislature, issues a statement saying populous Fulton County was “rife with fraud.” Finally, Georgia’s new governor takes a momentous step. Given everything happening in the nation, he says, it seems clear that the challenger won a big victory. He asks state lawmakers to simply overturn the president’s narrow Georgia victory, saying he’s been assured that such a move is legal under the U.S. Constitution. Is this scenario far-fetched? Maybe.

Full Article: Election laws, 2024, and the future of US democracy – CSMonitor.com

National: US Capitol attack was planned in plain sight, Senate report finds | David Smith/The Guardian

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol was “planned in plain sight” but intelligence failures left police officers exposed to a violent mob of Trump supporters, a Senate investigation has found. The Capitol police intelligence division had been gathering online data since December about plots to storm the building on 6 January, including messages such as: “Bring guns. It’s now or never.” But a combination of bad communications, poor planning, faulty equipment and lack of leadership meant the warnings went unheeded, allowing the insurrectionists to overrun the Capitol and disrupt certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Five people died. The bipartisan investigation does not examine the causes of the riot, assess whether Donald Trump incited it by calling for his supporters to “fight like hell”, or even use the term “insurrection”. On the Senate floor on Tuesday, Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer said: “Just as glaring is what the report didn’t consider. Indeed, what it was not allowed to consider. The report did not investigate, report on, or hardly make any reference to the actual cause – the actual impetus – for the attack on 6 January.” But the senators do paint a portrait of bureaucratic flaws that left Capitol police scrambling to protect members of Congress and Vice-President Mike Pence. They also highlight the failure of the FBI to collect information on domestic extremists, despite a wealth of evidence on social media.

Full Article: US Capitol attack was planned in plain sight, Senate report finds | US Capitol breach | The Guardian

National: John Lewis voting rights bill faces bleak future in the Senate after McConnell deems it “unnecessary” – Grace Segers/CBS

Widespread Republican opposition to two major pieces of voting rights legislation is leading some Democratic lawmakers and activists to fear that Congress will be unable to pass either bill this year, even as several state legislatures enact restrictive voting measures. Later this month, the Senate is set to take up S. 1, or the For the People Act, an expansive but controversial voting and elections reform bill. The measure was already unlikely to pass, as Democrats hold a razor-thin 50-seat majority in the Senate, and 60 votes are required to advance most legislation. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin also announced Sunday that he opposes it, hammering another nail in its legislative coffin. But Manchin does support another voting rights bill, one that has yet to be introduced in this session of Congress — the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for the late congressman and civil rights icon. This bill, also known as H.R. 4, would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. That provision required certain jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to receive approval, known as preclearance, from the federal government before making changes to their voting rules. The Voting Rights Act established a formula to determine which areas should be covered by Section 5, which required certain jurisdictions to submit any changes to the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges for approval. The law was reauthorized in 2006, but the formula for dictating which jurisdictions should be subject to preclearance had not been significantly updated.

Source: John Lewis voting rights bill faces bleak future in the Senate after McConnell deems it “unnecessary” – CBS News

National: The U.S. government is getting closer to having a national cyber czar | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Congress is getting closer to confirming the first-ever national cyber director as the government lurches from one cyber crisis to the next. President Biden’s nominee for the post, Chris Inglis, is facing a confirmation hearing this morning before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — the first step in what is likely to be an easy path to confirmation. If confirmed, he will be immediately responsible for some of the biggest cyber challenges ever to hit the government, including recovering from a massive Russian theft of data and a scourge of ransomware attacks against vital U.S. infrastructure. “He’ll be putting his boat in the middle of the rapids and immediately need to start paddling or get submerged,” Suzanne Spaulding, a top cybersecurity official during the Obama administration, told me. “On the plus side, in the middle of a crisis there’s an opportunity to get people on the same page. They tend to be ready to put all the jurisdictional tensions on the back burner and roll up their sleeves.”

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: The U.S. government is getting closer to having a national cyber czar – The Washington Post

National: Can Mike Lindell’s “secret agents” undo the 2020 election? Pillow king claims he’ll “harvest” data from voting machines; allies hint at secret raids on election facilities | Zachary Petrizzo/Salon.com

Fervent Trump acolyte and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, along with various associates, is accelerating his quixotic and/or terrifying quest to undo the 2020 presidential election. Over the past month Lindell has gone from unhinged tangents on various right-wing platforms — including his own semi-broken Frank Speech website — to alleged real-world actions that may include somehow acquiring voting machines and ordering a team of operatives to break into election facilities. In recent weeks, both in conversations with Salon and during media appearances on his Frank Speech site, Lindell has proudly boasted that he now possesses both Dominion and Smartmatic voting machines — and believes his team will soon “harvest” incriminating data from their innards. These claims echo earlier ones made by the pillow magnate on a May 8 segment of Steve Bannon’s podcast. “I’ll give Dominion a little scare this morning,” Lindell told Bannon. “We have machines now, I do. We have ES&S [Election Systems & Software] machines; we’ve got them all. We’re going to be putting out so much information over the next couple weeks, and this isn’t from Arizona, these are machines we actually have.” No “information” has emerged in the intervening month but Lindell’s claims have only intensified, including his vaporware proposal that former President Donald Trump will be reinstalled as president in August, by way of some unexplained mechanism and following a unanimous Supreme Court decision.

Full Article: Mike Lindell’s Mission Impossible: Can his “secret agents” undo the 2020 election? | Salon.com

National: A Growing Number Of Critics Raise Alarms About The Electoral College | Mara Liasson/NPR

It’s hard to make an intellectual argument in favor of the Electoral College. Most people feel that the person who gets the most votes should become president. After all, that’s how we run every other election in this country, says Jesse Wegman, the author of Let the People Pick the President. “If anything, representative democracy in the 21st century is about political equality. It’s about one person, one vote — everybody’s vote counting equally,” he said. “You’re not going to convince a majority of Americans that that’s not how you should do it.” Another way the Electoral College is unfair, says Harvard University political scientist Gautam Mukunda, is that each state gets electors based on its representation in the House and Senate, which means small states get extra votes. “The fact that in presidential elections people in Wyoming have [nearly four] times the power of people in California is antithetical at the most basic level to what we say we stand for as a democracy,” he said. But Brad Smith, who used to be on the Federal Election Commission, disagrees. Sure, the election may be decided by just a handful of states — swing states that can shift red or blue. But Smith, a Republican, says the battleground is diverse. “Those states include some of the states with the heaviest minority populations in the United States, some of the states with the fewest minority populations in the United States,” he said. “They include states from every region of the country, and that forces candidates to try to go out and have a platform that will appeal to the huge, diverse sections of America — or at least not grossly turn them off.”

Full Article: Here’s What Critics Say Is Wrong With The Electoral College : NPR

Editorial: Congress Needs to Defend Vote Counting, Not Just Vote Casting | The New York Times

Republican-controlled state legislatures are whittling away at the integrity of electoral democracy in the United States, rushing to pass laws that make it harder for Americans to vote and easier for partisans to tamper with election results. It is a legislative assault motivated by the failure of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and justified by baseless allegations about the legitimacy of his defeat. Mr. Trump and his supporters pursued indiscriminate lawsuits to overturn the results and then, urged on by Mr. Trump, some of his supporters stormed the Capitol to halt the completion of the election process. Now they are seeking to rewrite the rules to make it easier for Republicans to win elections without winning the most votes. This effort is inimical to the most basic principles of free and fair elections: that all who are eligible should have an equal opportunity to vote, that all votes should be counted and that the losing side should accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. In the face of these threats, Democrats in Congress have crafted an election bill, H.R. 1, that is poorly matched to the moment. The legislation attempts to accomplish more than is currently feasible, while failing to address some of the clearest threats to democracy, especially the prospect that state officials will seek to overturn the will of voters. Because there is little chance the bill will pass in its current form, Democrats face a clear choice. They can wage what might be a symbolic (and likely doomed) fight for all the changes they would like. Or they can confront the acute crisis at hand by crafting a more focused bill, perhaps more palatable for more senators, that aims squarely at ensuring that Americans can cast votes and that those votes are counted.

Full Article: Opinion | Congress Needs to Defend Vote Counting, Not Just Vote Casting – The New York Times

National: Mike Lindell’s ‘fraud’ allegations are even more ridiculous than you might think | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

If you were familiar with Mike Lindell a year or two ago, it was probably because you watch Fox News and had seen the ubiquitous ads for his company, MyPillow. Lindell appears in those ads to hype his pillows with Billy Mays levels of gruff enthusiasm. Over the past six months, though, Lindell’s become better known as a salesperson for something far less comforting: former president Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Lindell’s wealth has made him a particularly loud voice among those clamoring about the election. He has the resources to hire various dubious “investigators” and to produce shakily constructed videos detailing what they’ve found. He also has the resources to respond to a 10-figure defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, not by acquiescing to having spread unverifiable claims but, instead, with a countersuit of his own in which he repeats and elevates those claims. That countersuit, filed this week, is the written version of Lindell’s “documentaries,” melodramatic, glitchy, sweeping and deeply flawed in both obvious and non-obvious ways. Central to the effort are those claims that the election was stolen, a claim that the suit reiterates explicitly as an exculpatory point for Lindell’s assertions about Dominion’s voting machines. “Fact,” the suit states at one point: “Direct and circumstantial evidence demonstrates that, during the 2020 General Election, electronic voting machines like those manufactured and sold by Dominion were manipulated and hacked in a manner that caused votes for one candidate to be tallied for the opposing candidate.” This is, of course, not a fact, since it isn’t true. But this claim — that Lindell can prove or has proved that fraud occurred — is meant to bolster his public assertions about the company. After all, if rampant fraud occurred in places where Dominion’s machines were used, how could he be to blame for saying that they made that possible? The catch here is that Lindell offers very little that’s actually intended to serve as direct evidence of malfeasance. There is a lot of hand-waving about questions that had been raised about Dominion’s machines and lots of ad hominem assertions about the company and its employees, but the suit introduces very little that might be considered actual, direct evidence that votes were manipulated.

Full Article: Mike Lindell’s ‘fraud’ allegations are even more ridiculous than you might think – The Washington Post