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Documents indicate Facebook scramble as Capitol attacked

October 24th, 2021|

As supporters of Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020, battling police and forcing lawmakers into hiding, an insurrection of a different kind was taking place inside the world's largest social media company. Thousands of miles away, in California, Facebook engineers were racing to tweak internal controls to slow the spread of misinformation and inciteful content. Emergency actions -- some of which were rolled back after the 2020 election -- included banning Trump, freezing comments in groups with records for hate speech, filtering out the "Stop the Steal" rallying cry and empowering content moderators to act more assertively by labeling the U.S. a "Temporary High Risk Location" for political violence. But other measures, such as preventing groups from changing their names to terms such as Stop the Steal, were not fully implemented because of last-minute technology glitches, according to a company spreadsheet. At the same time, frustration inside Facebook rose over what some saw as the company's halting and inconsistent response to rising extremism in the U.S. "Haven't we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence?" one employee wrote on an internal message board at the height of the Jan. 6 turmoil. "We've been fueling this fire for a long time, and we shouldn't be surprised it's now out of control." It's a question that still hangs over the company today, as Congress and regulators investigate Facebook's part in the Jan. 6 riots. Facebook has publicly blamed the proliferation of election falsehoods on former President Donald Trump and other social platforms. In mid-January, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said the Jan. 6 riot was "largely organized on platforms that don't have our abilities to stop hate." Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, told lawmakers in March that the company "did our part to secure the integrity of our election." But newly obtained company documents show the degree to which Facebook knew of extremist movements and groups on its site that were trying to polarize American voters before the election. The documents also give new details on how aware company researchers were after the election of the flow of misinformation that posited that votes had been manipulated against Trump. Sixteen months before last November's presidential election, a researcher at Facebook described an alarming development. She was getting content about the conspiracy theory QAnon within a week of opening an experimental account, she wrote in an internal report. On Nov. 5, two days after the election, another Facebook employee posted a message alerting colleagues that comments with "combustible election misinformation" were visible below many posts. Four days after that, a company data scientist wrote in a note to his co-workers that 10% of all U.S. views of political material -- a high figure -- were of posts that alleged that the vote was fraudulent. In each case, Facebook's employees sounded an alarm about misinformation and inflammatory content on the platform and urged action -- but the company failed or struggled to address the issues. The internal dispatches were among a set of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times that give new insight into what happened inside the social media network before and after the November election, when the company was caught flat-footed as users weaponized its platform to spread lies about the vote. What the documents do not offer is a complete picture of decision-making inside Facebook. Some internal studies suggested that the company struggled to exert control over the scale of its network and how quickly information spread, while other reports hinted that Facebook was concerned about losing engagement or damaging its reputation. Yet, what was unmistakable was that Facebook's own employees believed the social network could have done more, according to the documents. "Enforcement was piecemeal," read one internal review in March of Facebook's response to Stop the Steal groups, which contended that the election was rigged against Trump. The report's authors said they hoped the post-mortem could be a guide for how Facebook could "do this better next time." Many of the dozens of Facebook documents reviewed by the Times have not been previously reported. Some of the internal reports were initially obtained by Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower. Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, said the company was "proud" of the work it did to protect the 2020 election. He said Facebook worked with law enforcement, rolled out safety measures and closely monitored what was on its platform. "The measures we did need remained in place well into February, and some, like not recommending new, civic or political groups remain in place to this day," he said. "The responsibility for the violence that occurred on Jan. 6 lies with those who attacked our Capitol and those who encouraged them." A QANON JOURNEY For years, Facebook employees warned of the social network's potential to radicalize users, according to the documents. In July 2019, a company researcher studying polarization made a startling discovery: A test account that she had made for a "conservative mom" in North Carolina received conspiracy theory content recommendations within a week of joining the social network. The internal research, titled "Carol's Journey to QAnon," detailed how the Facebook account for an imaginary woman named Carol Smith had followed pages for Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting. Within days, Facebook had recommended pages and groups related to QAnon, the conspiracy theory that falsely claimed that Trump was facing down a shadowy cabal of Democratic pedophiles. By the end of three weeks, Carol Smith's Facebook account feed had devolved further. It "became a constant flow of misleading, polarizing and low-quality content," the researcher wrote. "We've known for over a year now that our recommendation systems can very quickly lead users down the path to conspiracy theories and groups," the researcher wrote. "In the meantime, the fringe group/set of beliefs has grown to national prominence with QAnon congressional candidates and QAnon hashtags and groups trending in the mainstream." INTO ELECTION DAY Facebook tried leaving little to chance with the 2020 election. For months, the company refined emergency measures known as "break glass" plans -- such as slowing down the formation of new Facebook groups -- in case of a contested result. Facebook also hired tens of thousands of employees to secure the site for the election, consulted with legal and policy experts, and expanded partnerships with fact-checking organizations. In a September 2020 public post, Zuckerberg wrote that his company had "a responsibility to protect our democracy." He highlighted a voter registration campaign that Facebook had funded and laid out steps the company had taken -- such as removing voter misinformation and blocking political ads -- to "reduce the chances of violence and unrest." "As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety," Haugen said in an interview with "60 Minutes." Many measures appeared to help. Election Day came and went without major hitches at Facebook. But after the vote counts showed a tight race between Trump and Joe Biden, then the Democratic presidential candidate, Trump posted in the early hours of Nov. 4 on Facebook and Twitter: "They are trying to STEAL the Election." The internal documents show that users had found ways on Facebook to undermine confidence in the vote. On Nov. 5, one Facebook employee posted a message to an internal online group called "News Feed Feedback." In his note, he told colleagues that voting misinformation was conspicuous in the comments section of posts. Even worse, the employee said, comments with the most incendiary election misinformation were being amplified to appear at the top of comment threads, spreading inaccurate information. Even so, Facebook began relaxing its emergency steps in November, three former employees said. The critical postelection period appeared to have passed, and the company was concerned that some preelection measures, such as reducing the reach of fringe right-wing pages, would lead to user complaints, they said. JAN. 6 On the morning of Jan. 6, with protesters gathered near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, some Facebook employees turned to a spreadsheet. There, they began cataloging the measures that the company was taking against election misinformation and inflammatory content on its platform. User complaints about posts that incited violence had soared that morning, according to data in the spreadsheet. Over the course of that day, as a mob stormed the Capitol, the employees updated the spreadsheet with actions that were being taken, one worker involved in the effort said. Of the dozens of steps that Facebook employees recommended, some -- such as allowing company engineers to mass-delete posts that were being reported for pushing violence -- were implemented. Zuckerberg and Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer, posted notes internally about their sadness over the Capitol riot. But some Facebook employees responded angrily, according to message threads viewed by the Times. "I wish I felt otherwise, but it's simply not enough to say that we're adapting, because we should have adapted already long ago," one employee wrote. "There were dozens of Stop the Steal groups active up until yesterday, and I doubt they minced words about their intentions." Another wrote: "I've always felt that on the balance my work has been meaningful and helpful to the world at large. But, honestly, this is a really dark day for me here." In a Jan. 7 report, the scope of what had occurred on Facebook became clear. User reports of content that potentially violated the company's policies were seven times the amount as previous weeks, the report said. Several of the most reported posts, researchers found, "suggested the overthrow of the government" or "voiced support for the violence." POST-MORTEMS In March, Facebook researchers published two internal reports assessing the company's role in social movements that pushed the election fraud lies. In one, a group of employees said Facebook had exhibited "the pattern." That involved the company initially taking "limited or no action" against QAnon and election delegitimization movements, only to act and remove that content once they had already gained traction. The document was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal. Part of the problem, the employees wrote, was that Facebook's election misinformation rules left too many gray areas. As a result, posts that "could be construed as reasonable doubts about election processes" were not removed because they did not violate the letter of those rules. Those posts then created an environment that contributed to social instability, the report said. Another report, titled "Stop the Steal and Patriot Party: The Growth and Mitigation of an Adversarial Harmful Movement," laid out how people had exploited Facebook's groups feature to rapidly form election delegitimization communities on the site before Jan. 6. "Hindsight being 20/20 makes it all the more important to look back, to learn what we can about the growth of the election delegitimizing movements that grew, spread conspiracy, and helped incite the Capitol insurrection," the report stated. Another study turned over to congressional investigators, titled "Understanding the Dangers of Harmful Topic Communities," discussed how like-minded individuals embracing a borderline topic or identity can form "echo chambers" for misinformation that normalizes harmful attitudes, spurs radicalization and can even provide a justification for violence. Examples of such harmful communities include QAnon and hate groups promoting theories of a race war. "The risk of offline violence or harm becomes more likely when like-minded individuals come together and support one another to act," the study concludes. Information for this article was contributed by Ryan Mac and Sheera Frenkel of The New York Times; and by Alan Suderman and Joshua Goodman of The Associated Press.

Despite national furor, election integrity is sound in Illinois. Here's why

October 24th, 2021|

John C. AckermanOur nation is still reacting to the historic 2020 election. Citizens turned out in record numbers to make their voices heard. However today many find themselves battered and bruised by political rhetoric and quite concerned about our election processes and procedures. Throughout this year, local election authorities throughout Illinois have seen an higher than average amount of Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request.This concern did not develop as a result of one election. We must look back to the 2016 election and the political rhetoric that followed that the election results had been “hacked” by the Russians.As election officials, we tackled questions about the integrity of our elections following the 2016 election only to see them grow into now questions concerning the 2020 election. I am writing this today in hope I can answer any concerns before these questions grow further as we move into the 2022 election.I could not answer every question within a short column here. I also acknowledge that my remarks here illustrate the election process within the state of Illinois, not standard practices throughout the United States. However, here are few of the most common questions we are receiving.As outlined in Illinois state election law, every vote in Illinois has a paper ballot that is held by the local election authority following the election. This paper trail allows for audits or reviews of the election results if required.No votes are counted in Illinois without a paper ballot that is held following the election. As such, all conversations concerning “data dumps” or “Russian hacking” are disingenuous here in Illinois as those votes cannot be counted since they do not have a paper ballot held by the local election authority.Continuing down this internet based attack theory, none of our election equipment involving vote casting is connected to the internet or have the ability to receive information via Wi-Fi in any way. Our tabulators attached to our ballot boxes simply count the results of the ballots cast in that ballot box.The results themselves are contained in a thumb drive that cannot be accessed until after 7:00 p.m. on Election Day when the multiple security seals surrounding the thumb drive are broken and the information is downloaded into one computer at our election tabulation facility in Tremont, Illinois.Never is this information gathered elsewhere and sent back to us. Only once we have all the results collected and verified do we report our results to the Illinois State Board of Elections via a secure fiber optic line between our office and the State Board of Elections.This secure fiber optic line between the local election authority and the State Board of Elections has been installed throughout the state of Illinois, ensuring that all election Information is not being transmitted on lines that are open to the public. And again, these results reported can be verified by paper ballots at all local election authorities offices.Concerning our election equipment itself, we are blessed here in Tazewell County to have our election equipment vendor (Liberty Systems LLC) located in our own village of Tremont. This local vendor, which has rapidly spread it tremendous services into currently 29 counties here in Illinois, employees local citizens (including several former local election authority employees) and adds to our local economy.We do not utilize some international or massive corporate entity whose lives are not impacted by the work we do here locally. These are not strangers but rather neighbors and friends working on the election equipment we employ.All of our equipment is validated before every election by having a mock election processed, which is open to the public to view. Following each election, a sample audit is conducted by having randomly selected voting locations results reproduced by running the paper ballots back through the equipment once more.Since my election to this office in 2018, we have improved the reporting of our election results by posting this information on our county website in real time as we collect the information rather than reporting in bundles so voters can see the results continuously reported. Additionally, we have shortened the time required to post all election results on Election Day by streamlining our procedures and moving to our election tabulation facility to Tremont, Illinois.These are just a sampling of the most common questions we are continuing to receive. My office is available to respond to any questions and concerns with our election procedures and policies.We welcome public review of this critical role in our democracy. My staff and I are here to serve the citizens of Tazewell County and we welcome your questions and oversight. Transparency and the willingness to show you how the election process works is the only way we can build voter confidence and trust.John C. Ackerman, Tazewell County Clerk

Louisville's offensive line continues streak, showing it can be strength of the team – Courier-Journal

October 24th, 2021|

Louisville offensive line coach Jack Bicknell took a lot of criticism early in the season after the offensive line he said may be the best he’s ever had, started the year slow.  Games against Ole Miss and Eastern Kentucky left a lot to be desired from a group that returned four starters and had loads of experience across the board.  It was supposed to be the strength of the team, carrying a group of talented, but unexperienced running backs, and helping quarterback Malik Cunningham find his new crop of receivers.  Don’t look now, but the offensive line looks every bit as talented as the coaching staff raved about during the offseason. Play-by-play:Louisville 28, Boston College 14, final updates and scoresLouisville ran for 331 yards against Boston College on Saturday. It averaged seven yards per carry and had two players run over 100 yards in Cunningham with 133 and Trevion Cooley with 112.Those aren’t just season-high numbers, either. Louisville ran for more than 300 yards just three prior times in Scott Satterfield’s tenure, with the last time coming in a 31-17 loss to Virginia in 2020. The other two times were against a terrible 2019 Syracuse team and Eastern Kentucky in 2019.  Saturday, Louisville did it against a Boston College team that gave up an average of 125.50 yards in six games and 3.8 yards per rush.  Louisville’s rushing attack was the only thing working for the offense and as the running back trio of Jalen Mitchell, Cooley and Hassan Hall have improved, they have a much-improved offensive line to thank. Cooley did as much on Saturday.  "Hats off to those guys," Cooley said. "It's hard switching from one coach to another on short notice, right before the season starts. Hats off to them for adjusting to a different coach. Obviously, everybody's different, but those guys work hard." Cooley had a milestone day on Saturday. The 112 yards marked the first 100-yard day for the freshman, but it was also his first 100-yard day since the 2019 football season.  Due to COVID-19 the North Carolina native didn’t have a 2020 high school season, and he took some time to get adjusted to college during spring practice. He was banged up and in the summer he admitted he was a tad out of shape, but Cunningham knew he was special.  He’s showing it now, despite the fumble in the fourth quarter.  "Since his first day here, he came early, I knew he had something in him," Cunningham said. "We have the three-headed monster back there and him coming in finishing the game how he did, hats off to him."U of L football:Louisville co-defensive coordinator Cort Dennison on personal leave of absenceLouisville’s running back room was thought to be a deep group, and it’s been just that this season. Mitchell has been the power back, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, while Cooley and Hall have been the explosive duo.  Since the win over Florida State, the running backs have stepped up to make a difference in the running game. Louisville ran for 208 yards against Wake Forest, for 233 against Virginia and then 331 against Boston College.  Part of that is the improvement up front.  Louisville hasn’t benched or rotated in different players; they’ve just clicked better and it’s obvious. Louisville averaged 4.8 yards per carry against Wake Forest, 6.8 against Virginia and expanded that on Saturday.  It was the outside zone, on Saturday, that the Eagles had no answer for.  "Honestly, the outside zone, it was killing them," Cooley said. "Then our offensive line came out with the mindset of ‘You can't stop me. You're going to have to bust me in the mouth to stop me.' That's what helped us become so successful."Louisville is the only team in the ACC to be in the top-20 in both sacks allowed and tackles for a loss allowed. Through six games, the Cardinals have allowed just eight sacks — none on Saturday — and 25 tackles for a loss. Saturday was also the first time since 2008 the offensive line went back-to-back weeks without a sack allowed. The turnovers have to be cut down, Hall and Cooley can’t fumble in the same game, but if the Cardinals can lean on their running game, the offense can take another step.  I’m not sure if the offensive line has yet lived up to being the best Bicknell has ever had, but it’s becoming one of the best in the ACC and one Louisville can rely on when it runs the ball.  “We challenge the offensive line every week to put our offense on their back, so when the passing game isn’t working, then we are able to lean on the running game," Cunningham said. "That is what we did today.” Cameron Teague Robinson CTeagueRob@gannett.com; Twitter: @cj_teague; 

Colwell: Congressional Republicans dancing around the Big Lie – South Bend Tribune

October 24th, 2021|

How do you defend the Big Lie without lying?That’s a problem for many Republicans in Washington.They know, after all the failed court challenges, recounts, audits and lack of any suspicious traces of bamboo on Arizona ballots, that Donald Trump lost the presidential election.They also know that Trump continues to promote the Big Lie that he actually won. And he demands obedience in furtherance of that delusion from Republicans in the House and Senate and other elected offices around the nation.Trump stresses that his base won’t support Republicans who reject harping about a stolen election. Woe to any admitting that fraud allegations have been thoroughly and conclusively disproven.Trump warned bluntly in a recent statement:“If we don’t solve the presidential election fraud of 2020 — which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented — Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana confronted the problem in a Fox News interview.When asked repeatedly if he believed the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, Scalise won a dance contest, avoiding a direct answer and contending only that some states didn’t follow their standard election laws — true because of the pandemic but not changing vote results.Why did Scalise dance? Why not flat-out lie? Why not claim, as Trump does in his obsession with blotting out an ego-shattering defeat, that Joe Biden isn’t a legitimate president?Well, Scalise knows the election was long ago decided and he doesn’t want to go down in history as a liar.Why then didn’t Scalise respond with the whole truth, Biden won, no fraud?Well, he knows that such a truthful response would bring the wrath of Trump.Trump would denounce “Stupid Steve” and demand that House Republicans remove Scalise as whip, just as they removed Liz Cheney from a leadership post when she rejected the Big Lie.Another Louisiana Republican, Sen. Bill Cassidy, did speak out against Trump’s demand for Republicans to be obedient.“If we relitigate 2020 over and over again, it won’t change the result in 2020, but we are sure to lose in 2024,” he said. “If we choose to look forward, bringing positive solutions to the American people who have needs, we win. If we choose to be bullied, we lose.”Trump response? Typical. He gave the senator a new title, “Wacky,” and said he isn’t really a Republican.Fear of such treatment keeps more Washington Republicans from telling the truth about the Big Lie. Better to dance, they calculate politically, and call for more investigations of 2020 “fraud.”If a Republican member of Congress crosses Trump, that member is likely to be opposed by a Trump-backed opponent in the next GOP primary. Trump warns about that. And polling shows his base remains strong, strong enough to be decisive in a many Republican primaries.A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 78 percent of Republicans want Trump to run for president in 2024. He gained GOP support since May, when the poll found 66 percent wanting him to run again.Now, that doesn’t mean that all those Republicans believe the Big Lie, although a lot probably have been convinced by the repetition of the claim.Some just want Trump back, no matter the 2020 results. The way Democrats bumbled for the entire summer without passage of a popular infrastructure bill no doubt adds to that opinion.The resulting drop in Biden’s approval ratings and enhanced chances of Republicans gaining control of the House in 2022 also provide incentive for congressional Republicans. Defend the Big Lie without lying. Just dance around it and hope it turns into a victory dance for a Republican congressional majority.Jack Colwell is a columnist for The Tribune. Write to him in care of The Tribune or by email at jcolwell@comcast.net.

THE CONTRERAS REPORT: Hispanic voting power | Open | ivpressonline.com

October 24th, 2021|

After every presidential election, analysis of the Hispanic presidential vote is done by people ill-prepared to analyze the Hispanic vote because they know little about Hispanics.The 2020 census:There are 62.1 million Hispanics in the United States. That’s 19 percent of the U.S. population, one in five Americans. The top three Hispanic states are California with 15.6 million Hispanics, 39 percent of the state; Texas with 11.4 million, 39 percent, and Florida with 5.7 million, 26 percent.The candidate that wins two of these three states wins the election normally, the exception being 2020.Note: 42 percent of Hispanics over 25 have some college in 2019 compared to 36 percent in 2010. Degrees have increased from 2010’s 13 percent to 18 percent in 2020.Understand this: Mexican-origin people are the largest Hispanic group. The 2020 census reports that of the 62.1 million Hispanics, 61.5 percent are of Mexican origin, 37.5 million.The final 2020 census number that is important for voting analysis is that four in five Hispanics are U.S. citizens, mostly U.S. born.Hispanics are America’s youngest group. 30 is the median age of the 62.1 million Hispanics, with the median age of 26 for the 37 million plus of Mexican-origin.Hispanic voters tend to vote in smaller percentages because young people don’t vote anywhere as much as people over 40 do.The Hispanic median age of 30 is much lower than whites, 44. The most common age among whites is 58, while the most common Hispanic age is 11.So how did Hispanics vote in 2020? Did they tsunami for Donald Trump as he states, or not?Susan Crabtree of Real Clear Politics wrote:“Trump won 38 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2020, a 10-percentage-point increase from 2016 and far better than John McCain and Mitt Romney, the previous two GOP nominees for president.”Is that true? No. The reliable Cato Institute says Trump garnered 32 percent to 35 percent of the 2020 exit polls, not 38 percent. Crabtree didn’t source the "38 percent."Fact: every Republican president since Richard Nixon who had received 35 percent or more of the Hispanic vote won the presidency. Trump lost.The McCain numbers shouldn’t even be mentioned as that election ended an eight-year GOP reign in the White House as Trump ended an eight-year long Democrat White House. Romney was defeated by a hurricane that hit New Jersey and New York days before the election. Another mistake by Crabtree: The 2020 election had the smallest percentage of Election Day voters because of early voting and mail ballots. More Americans voted early (like me) in person than ever — 100 million people. Fewer than 50 million people voted on Election Day, and everyone agrees that those people heavily voted Republican. Thus, false positive “exit polls.”In some states, people could only vote by mail.Thus, Election Day exit polls aren’t reliable.Florida is a special case. It is populated by refugees from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela and their families.Trump lost Florida in 2016 but came back with a heavy Cuban/Nicaraguan/Venezuelan opposition to communist-socialist dictatorships vote. Thirty-eight percent of the Hispanic vote? In Florida, maybe.Texas, on the other hand, is different. Why? The Hispanic population in Texas is almost exclusively of Mexican-origin.In other words, the Tex-Mex is a totally different person.Susan Crabtree wrote: “Trump increased his margin of victory by a whopping 19 to 55 points in 10 heavily Mexican American counties along the border.”Big deal. Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison carried the area to win a U.S. Senate seat in 1993 with 67 percent of the vote.Besides, Crabtree forgot to mention that Texas has 258 counties. Most have tiny populations. Those border counties Trump carried are all tiny rural counties that grow things like welfare checks or cattle. Five hundred votes is a lot in such counties.In contrast, the overall Mexican American population is 95 percent urban, not Texas rural.Historically, Trump’s Hispanic vote hardly measures up to George W. Bush’s 50 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas that re-elected him governor in 1998, or the 40 percent to 44 percent he received in his 2004 Presidential re-election nationally.The political question is, did Hispanics who voted for Donald Trump project more Hispanic support for the GOP in the future? Probably not.With less than 25 percent of registered vote in California, the GOP has little chance of recovering what used to be a GOP paradise. None. Texas will turn Democrat for the 2032 presidential election.So, the GOP future is bleak in Texas, thus it is bleak nationally as long as it is identified with Donald J. Trump ... Loser.Raoul Lowery Contreras is a U.S. Marine veteran, political consultant and the author of “The Armenian Lobby & American Foreign Policy,” “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade,” and “A Hispanic View of President Donald J. Trump.” He hosts the Contreras Report on YouTube and Facebook.

Nevada man charged for voting with dead wife's ballot to vote in 2020 – New York Post

October 24th, 2021|

A Nevada man forged his dead wife’s signature and then mailed in a ballot using her name for the 2020 election, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office announced. Donald Kirk Hartle, a 55-year-old registered Republican from Las Vegas, was charged with two counts of voter fraud for using the name of another person and voting more than once in the same election, the AG said in a statement on Thursday. His wife, Rosemarie Hartle of Las Vegas, died in 2017 at the age of 52 from breast cancer, he told KLAS-TV after it was announced state officials were investigating the matter. “That is pretty sickening to me, to be honest with you,” he told the outlet in November of 2020, once the investigation began. The county had reported it had received a mail-in ballot request from his wife, but Hartle said it never came to his house. His wife’s signature on the ballot was initially reported to have matched the signature Clark County officials had on file for Rosemarie. Donald Kirk Hartle was charged with two counts of voter fraud for using the name of another person and voting more than once in the same election.KLAS-TV “It certainly brings up a lot of discomfort,” Kirk said at the time. “There’s a pretty exhausting process you go through when someone passes.” The alleged fraud occurred between Oct. 26 and Oct. 30, 2020, according to the charges. He is the only man in Nevada being prosecuted for voter fraud in connection with the 2020 election. “Voter fraud is rare, but when it happens it undercuts trust in our election system and will not be tolerated by my office,” said AG Aaron D. Ford in a statement. “I want to stress that our office will pursue any credible allegations of voter fraud and will work to bring any offenders to justice.” Hartle forged the signature of his wife, who died from breast cancer in 2017, and used her name for the 2020 presidential election.KLAS-TV Hartle is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 18 in Las Vegas Township Justice Court.  Both charges carry a possible prison term of up to four years, as well as a fine of $5,000.  Hartle is an executive at Ahern Rental Inc., which was fined $3,000 for COVID-19 mask and social gathering violations while holding a Trump rally for thousands in September 2020, donned a “Great Awakening Weekend.”  With Post Wires

My Take: West Michigan needs the freedom to vote act and leaders who will protect our democracy

October 24th, 2021|

Whatever our skin color, religion or ZIP code, Michiganders value our freedom and right to vote. Votes are our voices, shaping the key decisions of our lives like protecting public health in a pandemic or securing good jobs, clean air and clean water for our communities. Today, our right to vote is at risk, and like generations before us, we have to fight today to protect the future of our democracy.National networks of GOP-aligned extremists are running a state-by-state strategy to send our voting rights back to 1965. These same networks have threatened lawmakers in Michigan, and in D.C. They've spread lies about COVID-19 and the 2020 election. A single bill for a federal fix is available in D.C. today, and is the best way to protect our democracy. We must move with fierce determination to pass the Freedom to Vote Act in Congress, now.  This federal legislation would set national standards for us to cast our ballots safely and equally, ensuring that trusted local election officials count every vote, and preventing GOP politicians from sabotaging our elections. The Freedom to Vote Act is enormously popular — it has the support of seven out of 10 Americans. Provisions in the law that would increase penalties for intimidating voters, and protect local election officials from harassment, are even more popular and essential in these times.As a state legislator, I am working daily to stop a 39-bill, anti-voting rights package from Michigan’s GOP-led Senate from hitting Gov. Whitmer’s desk. As a citizen, I will decline to sign the falsely named “Secure MI Vote” ballot initiative that seeks to take away voter freedom. But ultimately, we need elected leaders in our nation’s capital to use the power that the majority of Americans have given them to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. The Senate must act now. President Biden and Vice President Harris must use every lever of power at their disposal to get it done.This summer, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to stand alongside state lawmakers from Texas, Georgia, Florida, and beyond, pushing back against these state and national attacks on democracy. We need action in Congress, and vigilance in the states, because these efforts are all connected by powerful special interests and extremists seeking to overturn the legitimate results of the last election, and more shockingly, to undermine our ability to participate in the next one.If we do not secure the Freedom to Vote Act, stop those pushing anti-voter legislation, and decline to sign the “Secure MI Vote” ballot initiative, we will see longer lines at polling locations, fewer options for eligible voters to cast their ballots, volunteers will be banned from working at our polls,  and valid votes won’t be counted. The issues that matter to West Michigan — recovery from the pandemic, economic growth, water we can drink, and good schools — are too important to risk. It’s time to stand up for our communities and take action to protect the right to vote for all Michiganders.Join me in declining to sign the “Secure MI Vote” ballot initiative. Get informed and contact your state and federal representatives and senators. Together, we can join our ancestors and leave a legacy of voting rights and democratic freedom to future generations.— State Rep. Rachel Hood, Grand Rapids, is serving her second term representing the 76th House District.

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