Opinion: Election deniers a persistent threat to Michigan’s democracy – Detroit Free Press

By |2022-12-02T12:49:45-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

On Nov. 8, voters across the country and here in Michigan exercised one of our most fundamental rights: the right to vote.For months, pundits and the political class told us there would be a red wave. MAGA Republicans campaigned across Michigan to take away our reproductive rights and our sacred right to vote, confident they would triumph. And most egregiously, many of them campaigned on taking away our constitutional right to choose who leads us, supporting former President Donald Trump in his criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election.Michigan proved them wrong.Voters in Michigan delivered a “stiff rebuke” to election deniers and affirmed voting protections. Michiganders voted for democracy on Nov. 8, rejecting high-profile, anti-voter election deniers such as Tudor Dixon, Matthew DePerno and Kristina Karamo, who wanted to be Michigan's governor, attorney general and secretary of state, respectively.Democrats flipped control of the state Legislature to gain a trifecta for the first time in 40 years. MAGA conspiracy theorist John Gibbs was defeated by Hillary Scholten in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, and Elissa Slotkin defeated an election denier to return to Congress in the 8th District.On top of that, Michigan voters passed Proposal 2, which protects the fundamental right to vote without harassment, a 6-day grace period after Election Day for military serving overseas to have their ballots counted and provides nine days of early in-person voting.All of this should be heartening to anyone who cares about democracy. However, the fight to make Michigan’s elections safe, secure and accessible isn't over. Staggeringly, half of the incoming Michigan GOP lawmakers to the state Legislature are election deniers.Additionally, DePerno, a far-right conspiracy theorist who is under investigation for tampering with voting machines in 2020, is a leading candidate for chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. Dixon has also hinted at running for party chair. One of the current co-chairs, Meshawn Maddock, is a hardline election denier and insurrectionist who played an active role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.Three Republicans re-elected to Congress from Michigan — U.S. Reps. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Twp.), Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) and Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) — voted to throw out the results of the 2020 presidential election. A fourth, Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), joined these three in signing a lawsuit to block Michigan and three other states from casting their Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden.Voting is critical to the integrity of our democracy. All Michigan voters should have confidence that our voices will be heard and our votes counted no matter what political party or candidate we support, where we live or what we look like. For Michigan to be a place where everyone has an opportunity to succeed, we must ensure that voters pick our government, not the other way around — where politicians rig elections.We must continue to be vigilant and defend democracy at every opportunity.Rep. Donna Lasinski (Scio Township) is Michigan House Democratic Leader.

“Pennsylvania Republicans reconsider their war on mail voting” – Election Law Blog

By |2022-12-02T13:53:01-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

Politico: For the past two years, Republican officials in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania have blasted mail voting, firing off lawsuits and bills aimed at crippling the balloting method that has become increasingly popular post-pandemic. In the wake of a midterm cycle that proved disastrous for them, they’re wondering if their antipathy to the idea cost them the election. “There’s no question in my mind that Republicans have to have a different mail-in strategy,” said Andy Reilly, a Republican National Committeeman in Pennsylvania. “When one party votes for 30 days and one party votes for one, you’re definitely going to lose.” Across the country, the GOP’s disappointing midterm results have kicked off hand-wringing about the party’s attitude toward early voting and mail ballots. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley — both potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates — have said recently that Republicans can’t simply ignore the voting mechanisms Democrats have taken advantage of. But the about-face is particularly striking in Pennsylvania, where Republicans have adopted an especially uncompromising approach to mail-in voting. Though nearly every Republican state legislator backed a 2019 law legalizing no-excuse mail voting, GOP officials changed their tune in the 2020 presidential election, when then-President Donald Trump repeatedly and forcefully bashed vote-by-mail. Their criticism of the method continued from there. Pennsylvania Republicans attacked Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the state’s top election official for the way they implemented the 2019 mail voting law. They lambasted court rulings on the procedure, including those that enabled the use of drop boxes and allowed mail ballots to be received up to three days after the 2020 election as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. The 2022 Pennsylvania GOP’s gubernatorial nominee, Doug Mastriano, pledged during his campaign to eliminate no-excuse mail-in voting and led the movement to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state. Republican state lawmakers filed a lawsuit that attempted to toss out the very vote-by-mail law they helped pass. Republican Jake Corman, the retiring state Senate President Pro Tempore, said mail voting should be ended. But the blue wave that hit Pennsylvania in 2022 — in which Republicans lost key races for governor, Senate, House and the state legislature — is forcing the GOP to reassess. Share this:

INSTITUTE INDEX: Millions of dollars wasted on election denial | Facing South

By |2022-12-02T12:49:57-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

Number of Southern states where Republican election deniers were on the ballot this year for U.S. House, Senate, and key state offices that oversee elections: 11 Estimated amount a handful of mega-donors spent backing these and other election-denying candidates nationally: over $71 million Amount Michael Rydin, CEO of a Texas construction software company with ties to the Conservative Partnership Institute, contributed to election-denying secretary of state candidate Jody Hice's failed primary run in Georgia: $12,000 Total amount spent by conservative business-supply billionaires Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein of Illinois to support secretary of state candidates who challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election: $63 million Amount the Uihleins donated to Hice, who lost to Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger, a non-denier who went on to win the general election: $12,000 Amount Save America, a PAC formed by Donald Trump days after the 2020 presidential election, donated to election-denying secretary of state candidates in three states, including Georgia: $17,000 Of the six election-denying candidates who ran for secretary of state in key battleground states nationally, including Georgia, percent who lost: 100

State’s top election official believes ‘fever is breaking’ on election denialism

By |2022-12-02T12:49:59-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

DETROIT LAKES — The last few election cycles have left Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon optimistic about the future of democracy in America.“The fever is breaking,” he told a League of Women Voters group in Detroit Lakes on Thursday.Simon’s office oversees elections in Minnesota, and prior to the 2020 election, he was worried, and his office was scrambling to make sure people could vote safely and securely in the middle of the first pandemic in 100 years.“In the spring of 2020 we were fresh into this thing — we were still in lockdown mode — staring at an election we knew would be knock-down, drag-out.”Problem No. 1 was finding 30,000 people statewide willing to serve as election judges and election workers “in pre-vaccination America, when they know there will be 1,000 people at their polling place walking in and out with their droplets — that was a challenge,” he said. ADVERTISEMENT He was also concerned about possible civil unrest at polling places, and that people might be afraid to go out to the polls to vote.“My office is in the democracy business, and the last three or four years it’s been a hell of a time to be in the democracy business,” he said, crediting the League of Women Voters with doing great work on voter education and registration.“The last three or four years people have been saying the work you do is essential — democracy is really on the dashboard, with blinking red lights — not just in Minnesota, but across the country,” he said.Fortunately, in 2020 the election judges materialized, unrest didn’t happen, and Minnesotans ended up voting in droves that year — but mostly not in person.“We had the highest voter turnout since 1956, just shy of 80%,” Simon said. “It was extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary — in a pandemic.”Not surprisingly, the percentage of absentee voters shot up that year to 58% of all votes cast, he said. That way, he said, “you don’t have to risk your life to vote.”By comparison, in 2018, 24% of votes were cast by absentee ballot. In last month’s general election, same story — 26% of votes came through absentee ballots.That’s because “we are no longer in the worst throes of a pandemic with no vaccine,” he said. ADVERTISEMENT But the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election was also “very troubling,” he added. “We were hit with a wave of disinformation about our elections, and that will continue to 2024.”He never mentioned former president Donald Trump by name, but it’s no secret that Trump has led the charge on election denialism.“Disinformation doesn’t mean disagreeing with me on election policy. I have no problem with that,” Simon said. “I mean willful distortions — lies — about what the system is and how it works, in a calculated and politically-motivated way.”The violent Jan. 6 take-over of the U.S. Capitol while Congress was in session to certify the victory of Joe Biden “is only the most glaring example of weaponizing that disinformation,” he said.Many of the participants that day believed Trump’s loud and repeated claims about massive voter fraud that cost him the election. That in spite of findings by 60-some judges, including some appointed by Trump, that there was no evidence of such fraud.But election deniers on the right continue to spread falsehoods and have weaponized words like “rigged, stolen, fraud,” to the point that they have successfully undermined many people’s confidence in free and fair elections, said Simon.The “controversy” over ballot counting in Pennsylvania is a good example of how it works, Simon said.In Minnesota, the Secretary of State’s Office never touches or counts ballots, which are all processed at the local level. But by law, those local election workers can start counting absentee ballots a week before election day. ADVERTISEMENT In 2020 the Legislature changed the law to allow a two-week head start on counting absentee ballots. So the Minnesota results were counted and known on election night or the next day.But in states like Pennsylvania, the legislature refused to allow election workers any kind of head start, and in fact, they had to wait until the polls closed on election day to start counting those mountains of absentee ballots, Simon said.“The Pennsylvania legislature said ‘no extra time,’ with predictable results,” Simon said. In the big cities, especially, they were counting those piles of absentee ballots for weeks after election day.“To this day, national political figures talk about that ‘mysterious’ dump of ballets in big cities in Pennsylvania,” Simon said, “It was not a ‘dump,’ it was a count, but to this day that is mischaracterized on social media and by national political figures as a ‘dump,’ and of evidence of ‘rigging, fixing or stealing’ an election. That is misinformation.”Before the election this year, “we were worried that some voters would be turned off,” Simon added. He runs on the DFL ticket, but considers his office nonpartisan. “I don’t want any Minnesotan to not vote because of misinformation about the election system,” he said.He makes a distinction between the political and media figures actively promoting misinformation and the regular people who might happen to believe it.“It’s important to lead with the truth whenever we see misinformation or disinformation,” he said. “The 2020 election was fair, honest and accurate.”Transparency is the best tool in the battle against disinformation, he added. “The more people understand how our election process actually works, the more they trust the system,” he said. For instance, he said, “Every piece of election equipment has to be checked before every election, and every county does a post-election audit, followed by a deeper look by the Secretary of State's Office. When people learn these things, they come away with a lot of confidence in the system … I am a long-term optimist — the fever will break because we make it break.”

Three ways to restore public faith in our elections | Opinion – Pennsylvania Capital-Star

By |2022-12-02T12:50:00-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

By Sarah Bush and Lauren Prather The 2022 U.S. midterm elections ran relatively smoothly and faced few consequential accusations of fraud or mismanagement. Yet many Americans don’t trust this essential element of a democracy. It’s dangerous for peace and stability when the public doubts democratic elections. Disastrous events like the insurrection by supporters of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 make that clear. But there are subtler effects of such doubt. Trump isn’t the only instigator of this distrust, which he sowed with his false assertions that the 2020 presidential vote was “rigged” and that he was the legitimate winner of the election. Study after study – in both the U.S. and around the world – make clear that trust in elections predicts whether a person votes and decides to participate in politics in other ways, like attending peaceful demonstrations or even discussing politics. If people don’t think that elections are fair, then they don’t see the point in taking the steps that maintain democracy. Healthy democracies are countries where regular elections lead to peaceful transfers of power. Citizens are essential to this process, especially as their votes and peaceful protests hold politicians accountable. Their beliefs about election credibility determine whether they are willing and able to play this role. Voters cast their ballots at the Madison Senior Center on Nov. 8, 2022, in Madison, Wisc. (Jim Vondruska/Getty Images).  Winners trust elections – losers don’t The consequences of the Capitol riot continue to loom large. The congressional hearings investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection have revealed the extent of then-President Trump’s desire to challenge the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory. In behind-the-scenes footage from his address on Jan. 7, 2021, to the nation, Trump said, “I don’t want to say the election is over.” Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, were hardly the first time he sowed distrust in American elections. While campaigning in 2016, he warned the election could be “rigged” and called on his supporters to be “Trump Election Observers.” Trump built on the claims of earlier Republican politicians who for years stoked fears about what they called “voter fraud,” even though nonpartisan experts demonstrate such fraud is rare in American elections. Although GOP politicians have done the most to sow distrust in American elections, some Democrats have also questioned the fairness of elections. In 2018, Stacey Abrams acknowledged losing the race for governor of Georgia to incumbent Brian Kemp, but said “the game was rigged against the voters of Georgia.” Waning trust in elections not only turns off voters, but it also leads to other problems. Trump supporters deliberately overwhelmed local election officials before the midterms with information requests related to 2020 voting records. Other voters were “angry and confused,” uncertain about how to vote by mail and voting machines. This situation is made worse by polarization in the United States. Many members of the American public will incorrectly question the accuracy of the midterms. As political scientists who study elections and democracy, we anticipate that post-election distrust will be especially high among the voters who supported candidates who lost. Polarization widens the gap in trust between election winners and losers because partisans rely on different news sources, and some of them may even start to care more about their party winning than about democracy. In 2016, for example, our surveys of Americans showed that Hillary Clinton’s supporters went into the presidential election thinking it would be significantly more credible than Trump’s supporters thought it would be. Prior to the election, Clinton’s supporters gave the election an average of 7.5 on a 10-point scale of credibility; Trump supporters gave the election an average of 5.4 on a 10-point scale of credibility. After the election, Trump supporters were much more confident than Clinton supporters in the credibility of the election. Trump supporters gave an average 8.4 vs. Clinton supporters’ 5.4 on the same 10-point scale. There was an even larger partisan gap after the 2020 presidential election, with Biden’s supporters expressing twice as much confidence in the election than Trump supporters. And the aftermath of that election is well known – the Jan. 6 insurrection. Fostering faith Can Americans’ trust in elections be rebuilt? Answering that question is complicated by the country’s decentralized system of election management. Researchers have found that trust can be enhanced when whole countries reform their electoral systems to make them fairer and more transparent. Although American elections are democratic, it is difficult to highlight specific qualities – or implement reforms that would make elections even better – because election administration varies from state to state. Poll worker training and other measures that make it likely that voters have a positive experience on election day can improve Americans’ trust in their elections. This will likely happen at a local level. Another way that countries help the public understand election quality is through positive reports from trusted election observers, both domestic and international. More than 80% of national elections in the world have international monitors present. But, according to a study by the Carter Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 American states do not allow nonpartisan election observers to monitor polling stations. These states generally do allow partisan election observers, so that means citizens will be able to rely only on party-aligned reports – which citizens may not trust. One valuable reform that would enhance the public’s trust would be to make it possible for nonpartisan groups to observe American elections more widely. In fact, many of the leaders in this practice abroad – like the Carter Center and the nonpartisan National Democratic Institute – are based in the U.S. There is precedent for monitoring in American elections by such groups as the nonpartisan League of Women Voters. The U.S. government has also invited observers from international organizations, such as the Organization of American States and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to monitor elections under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump. Giving monitors access to more state elections and publicizing their work is a step toward rebuilding Americans’ trust in elections. We know this from national surveys of the American public we conducted around the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections. We consistently found that telling Americans that monitors reported the elections were fair increased citizens’ trust. What happens when people don’t trust elections? They can get violent, as they did on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol (Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images).  Politicizing election administration Steps like allowing nonpartisan monitors and publicizing their positive assessments can only go so far toward reversing Americans’ declining trust in elections. If politicians continue to express doubt about the fairness and legitimacy of American elections, whether warranted or unwarranted, the damaging effect of their messages will be difficult to correct. And some elected officials are taking steps to actively undermine not just perceptions of election credibility, but election integrity itself. For example, the nonpartisan organizations States United Democracy Center and Protect Democracy in August 2022 identified 24 bills that have been enacted across 17 states that politicize and interfere with professional election administration. The politicization of election administration threatens to further erode public trust in election integrity. Democracy depends on the public’s active participation in elections and acceptance of their results.

Michigan’s top election official still facing threats from 2020 election – Yahoo News

By |2022-12-02T07:23:24-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

Last month, Michigan voters rendered their verdict on Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, sending her back to Lansing for a second term to oversee the state's elections. She comfortably defeated her Donald Trump-backed opponent by 14 percentage points.And yet, Benson told CBS News, threats from election deniers that started after the 2020 election have not stopped. "It still is going. I mean, it ebbs and flows. Often times when the former president speaks or says something or levies an accusation, there's an uptick," Benson said, adding that people still show up to her office in groups from time to time. "It's exhausting. And it's exhausting because I have so much faith and knowledge that our elections are secure. And that's the heartbreaking part of it," Benson said. She blamed "lies and misinformation" for mobilizing bad actors.Benson and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger joined CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week's episode of "The Takeout," which was recorded at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Fla. Raffensperger, a Republican, also won reelection this fall, two years after then-President Trump lobbied him to "find 11,780 votes" in Georgia in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Raffensperger soon faced a barrage of death threats. Someone broke into his daughter-in-law's house. His wife Tricia received text messages threatening sexual violence. Two years on, Raffensperger told Garrett those sorts of threats have tapered off. Still, he said, "you try not to let your guard down."Raffensperger attributes the anger and division in the country to economic disparity and grievance politics. "When we work on, you know, improving everyone's economic lifeboat, then this will dissipate. But right now, we're going through some very challenging seas and people are stressed," Raffensperger said.In 2022, midterm voters rejected some of the highest-profile elections deniers, but of the 308 Republican candidates for statewide or federal office who raised doubts about the validity of the 2020 presidential election, 188 won their races.Benson predicted it would take a "multiyear effort" to stamp out those unfounded claims. "What 2022 showed is two things. One, that voters are willing to step up and fight for their democracy and vote accordingly when they understand the rights and the freedoms that are on the ballot…It also showed that we will have more people in 2024 on the field, so to speak, defending our democracy — more secretaries of state who now will professionally but also potentially aggressively defend the results of the election," Benson said. Raffensperger views the 2022 election as a referendum on denialism. "My big takeaway is candidate quality really matters and I think serious times require serious candidates. And so I think in 2024, hopefully there'll be a stronger look for candidates that really speak to the true issues that voters are facing."Executive producer: Arden FarhiProducers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor WatsonCBSN Production: Eric Soussanin Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.comTwitter: @TakeoutPodcastInstagram: @TakeoutPodcastFacebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcastUvalde officials file suit for access to school shooting records: CBS News Flash Dec. 2, 2022Analyzing Biden's state dinner with France's Emmanuel MacronFTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried defends collapse of crypto exchange

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson still facing threats stemming from 2020 election

By |2022-12-02T06:49:11-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

Last month, Michigan voters rendered their verdict on Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, sending her back to Lansing for a second term to oversee the state's elections. She comfortably defeated her Donald Trump-backed opponent by 14 percentage points. And yet, Benson told CBS News, threats from election deniers that started after the 2020 election have not stopped.  "It still is going. I mean, it ebbs and flows. Often times when the former president speaks or says something or levies an accusation, there's an uptick," Benson said, adding that people still show up to her office in groups from time to time.  "It's exhausting. And it's exhausting because I have so much faith and knowledge that our elections are secure. And that's the heartbreaking part of it," Benson said. She blamed "lies and misinformation" for mobilizing bad actors.  Benson and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger joined CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week's episode of "The Takeout," which was recorded at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Fla.  Raffensperger, a Republican, also won reelection this fall, two years after then-President Trump lobbied him to "find 11,780 votes" in Georgia in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Raffensperger soon faced a barrage of death threats. Someone broke into his daughter-in-law's house. His wife Tricia received text messages threatening sexual violence.   Two years on, Raffensperger told Garrett those sorts of threats have tapered off. Still, he said, "you try not to let your guard down." Raffensperger attributes the anger and division in the country to economic disparity and grievance politics. "When we work on, you know, improving everyone's economic lifeboat, then this will dissipate. But right now, we're going through some very challenging seas and people are stressed," Raffensperger said. In 2022, midterm voters rejected some of the highest-profile elections deniers, but of the 308 Republican candidates for statewide or federal office who raised doubts about the validity of the 2020 presidential election, 188 won their races. Benson predicted it would take a "multiyear effort" to stamp out those unfounded claims. "What 2022 showed is two things. One, that voters are willing to step up and fight for their democracy and vote accordingly when they understand the rights and the freedoms that are on the ballot…It also showed that we will have more people in 2024 on the field, so to speak, defending our democracy — more secretaries of state who now will professionally but also potentially aggressively defend the results of the election," Benson said.   Raffensperger views the 2022 election as a referendum on denialism. "My big takeaway is candidate quality really matters and I think serious times require serious candidates. And so I think in 2024, hopefully there'll be a stronger look for candidates that really speak to the true issues that voters are facing." Executive producer: Arden FarhiProducers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor WatsonCBSN Production: Eric Soussanin Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.comTwitter: @TakeoutPodcastInstagram: @TakeoutPodcastFacebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

Norm Eisen: Following midterms, threats to democracy remain – Michigan Advance

By |2022-12-02T06:49:25-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

Experts warned that democracy itself was on the ballot during the Nov. 8 midterm election.  In Michigan, Republican election deniers were nominated for all three top statewide posts — Tudor Dixon for governor, Matt DePerno for attorney general and Kristina Karamo for secretary of state — and at least 54 candidates ran for Congress and the state Legislature. Those top Republicans were defeated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Democrats clinched power in both the state House and Senate for the first time in decades. But that doesn’t mean the threat is gone, experts say. “This ideology is showing no signs of going away,” former Ambassador Norman Eisen told the Michigan Advance in an interview this week. “We’re going to have to fight this battle for the heart and soul of democracy again, in every election cycle.” Eisen, a longtime election lawyer and expert on law, ethics, and anti-corruption, once advised former President Barack Obama on ethics and government reform before acting as co-counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020. He told the Advance that although there were certainly wins for democracy on Nov. 8, it would be ill-advised for Americans to let their guard down. “I think we just need to gird ourselves. … With the prevalence of this election-denying ideology from coast to coast, this is a threat that we’re gonna have to cope with in every cycle — in Michigan, nationwide and, of course, at the federal level,” Eisen said. Although Whitmer, Nessel and Benson were all reelected over their GOP election denier challengers, the Advance has found that at least half of all incoming state GOP lawmakers are election deniers. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (left) Attorney General Dana Nessel (center) and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (right) | Andrew Roth photos Having Democrats taking the reins in both chambers may tamp down on their ability to act now, but election deniers’ presence still looms large within GOP caucuses and could threaten to undermine future election cycles, Eisen said. “Certainly, we have to celebrate the rejection of this ideology in many key places in 2022, and Michigan was a highlight of that,” Eisen said. “But as your own reporting has pointed out, more than half of the GOP legislators who were elected are election deniers. “So we have this as a persistent problem, and who knows what they will do if they get a hold of the Legislature. Even in a minority posture, you can still do a great deal of harm.” On Monday, the bipartisan Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted unanimously to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election. Two years prior, one of the two Republicans on the board — GOP activist Norman Shinkle, who ran for and lost a state House race this cycle — had abstained. Republican Vice Chair Aaron Van Langevelde voted with the two Democrats, certifying the 2020 election results in Michigan. “It really all rested on the shoulders of Van Langevelde,” Eisen said. “He did the right thing. And the Michigan Board of Canvassers just did the right thing again.” Aaron Van Langevelde, former GOP member of the Board of State Canvassers who voted to certify the 2020 election results, Nov. 23, 2020 | Screenshot But when the U.S. House is faced with doing the same task on the federal level in January 2025, while most of the GOP majority are election deniers: “Will they do the right thing?” “This is an anti-democracy ideology that is against the fundamental ideas of what America is,” Eisen said. “As long as there are these thousands of adherents of this ideology out there, many in government positions or positions of influence in political parties, that’s a threat.” He added that in 2024, the two leading GOP presidential contenders — Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — are also election deniers. Another threat that looms is a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Moore v. Harper. An argument put forth by North Carolina Republicans would, if fully embraced by the right-wing majority court, allow state lawmakers to be the final arbiters of election results. This result would have massive electoral consequences and all but upend the process, while likely reversing recent advances in voting rights. Fred Wertheimer, president of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit and nonpartisan group Democracy 21, told the Advance on Monday that he does not expect this outcome but is still concerned, given the makeup of the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs in the case base their arguments on what is known as the Independent state Legislature theory, an obscure legal theory that Wertheimer refers to as a “just plain illogical.” “This is an absurd position,” Wertheimer said. “For a long time, this was viewed as a fringe, right-wing legal concept. “Any normal Supreme Court would throw this out, but we have a different Supreme Court today,” he said, but added that he believes the chances are “reasonably good” that the court will still reject the theory. U.S. Supreme Court to consider case that could radically reshape the country’s elections “Let’s put it this way. Any Supreme Court Justice who takes any reasonable view of the Constitution and the laws would never support this theory,” Wertheimer said. “In order to support this theory, you have to be ideologically controlled, partisan controlled and unconcerned about what the actual rules of law are.” If the court did accept the theory in its entirety, it would be “extremely damaging for democracy,” he said. Doing so would be interpreting the U.S. Constitution to say that a state Legislature is supreme and cannot be reviewed by a state Supreme Court in election matters. With Legislatures being the sole state entity to regulate federal elections, whichever party is in control of a state Legislature could pass redistricting or voting rights laws that violate the state constitution. The state court system would be barred from doing anything about it, making Michigan lawmakers the final arbiter of election results. “In Michigan, the ultimate decision maker about the meaning of the Michigan State Constitution is the Michigan State Supreme Court. This would dramatically change it and say the ultimate decision maker is the state Legislature, which would be completely out of whack with anything anyone has ever done in the court system,” Wertheimer said. “That’s just plain illogical, but that’s the danger involved here if the court makes the wrong decision.” SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST. DONATE

Pennsylvania Republicans reconsider their war on mail voting – POLITICO

By |2022-12-02T05:44:16-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

Chester County election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots for the 2020 general election in the at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. | Matt Slocum/AP Photo PHILADELPHIA — For the past two years, Republican officials in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania have blasted mail voting, firing off lawsuits and bills aimed at crippling the balloting method that has become increasingly popular post-pandemic. In the wake of a midterm cycle that proved disastrous for them, they’re wondering if their antipathy to the idea cost them the election. “There’s no question in my mind that Republicans have to have a different mail-in strategy,” said Andy Reilly, a Republican National Committeeman in Pennsylvania. “When one party votes for 30 days and one party votes for one, you’re definitely going to lose.” Across the country, the GOP’s disappointing midterm results have kicked off hand-wringing about the party’s attitude toward early voting and mail ballots. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley — both potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates — have said recently that Republicans can’t simply ignore the voting mechanisms Democrats have taken advantage of. But the about-face is particularly striking in Pennsylvania, where Republicans have adopted an especially uncompromising approach to mail-in voting. Though nearly every Republican state legislator backed a 2019 law legalizing no-excuse mail voting, GOP officials changed their tune in the 2020 presidential election, when then-President Donald Trump repeatedly and forcefully bashed vote-by-mail. Their criticism of the method continued from there. Pennsylvania Republicans attacked Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the state’s top election official for the way they implemented the 2019 mail voting law. They lambasted court rulings on the procedure, including those that enabled the use of drop boxes and allowed mail ballots to be received up to three days after the 2020 election as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. The 2022 Pennsylvania GOP’s gubernatorial nominee, Doug Mastriano, pledged during his campaign to eliminate no-excuse mail-in voting and led the movement to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state. Republican state lawmakers filed a lawsuit that attempted to toss out the very vote-by-mail law they helped pass. Republican Jake Corman, the retiring state Senate President Pro Tempore, said mail voting should be ended. But the blue wave that hit Pennsylvania in 2022 — in which Republicans lost key races for governor, Senate, House and the state legislature — is forcing the GOP to reassess. “Republicans focus on Election Day turnout and Democrats started a month ahead of time,” said former Rep. Lou Barletta, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in the GOP primary this year. “If we want to win, if Republicans want to win, they got to get better at” mail voting. Lou Barletta meets with attendees at an event in Bethlehem, Pa., Jan. 19, 2022. | Matt Rourke/AP Photo Many Republicans in Pennsylvania continue to hope that the state’s vote-by-mail law is repealed. And there is little indication that they will stop proposing bills to end mail voting. But with Democrat Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro set to take office next year, they acknowledge that those bills have little chance of being signed into law, at least in the near future. So they’re pledging to work within the system. “Democrats transformed the election landscape with their mail-in ballot schemes in many states — and Republicans must respond by decisively winning this battle,” said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.). Since Election Day, Pennsylvania Republicans have said in interviews and post-mortems that the party’s apparatuses and outside conservative groups must persuade voters — especially irregular voters who back the GOP — to take advantage of vote-by-mail and make it a key piece of their get-out-the-vote operations. “Republican and conservative activists need to embrace mail-in voting, as it isn’t going away any time soon,” wrote GOP state Rep. Russ Diamond in a post-mortem on his website. “Our goal isn’t to convince regular voters to vote by mail, but to figure out how to cultivate mail-in votes from those registered Republicans who vote infrequently or don’t vote at all.” But the GOP is confronting a well of distrust within its base. In this year’s gubernatorial race, Shapiro received more than 1 million votes by mail, according to Pennsylvania’s Department of State. Mastriano only won 187,000. Even in the closer Senate race, Democrat John Fetterman collected 960,000 mail ballots, while Mehmet Oz took in just 234,000. Republicans also concede that their party currently lacks the infrastructure needed to compete with Democrats on mail voting in swing states like Pennsylvania. “The Democrats have these interest groups, such as EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, who are pushing mail-in ballots every day to people. And we don’t have similar Republican interest groups who are out pushing mail-in ballots,” said Reilly. “We need to get folks who want Republican governance to accept the idea and promote the idea.” Lawrence Tabas, chair of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, has not backed down from his belief that Democrats botched the implementation of the state’s new vote-by-mail law in 2020. Nonetheless, he said, the GOP needs to adapt to the reality that mail voting is a legal means of casting a ballot in the state. “I intend to work on encouraging and getting our voters to vote by mail,” he said. “I mean, 650,000-some ballots were cast this year before the U.S. Senate debate even occurred. You have 50 days to vote by mail. If you vote at the polls, it’s 13 hours. We outvoted the Democrats at the polls. But the mail is something that we need to work on.” Hanging over the efforts by Republicans in Pennsylvania and across the country to embrace mail voting is Trump. The former president has continued to argue that the method is inherently untrustworthy and, in part, responsible for his loss in the 2020 election. Unlike some national Republicans, Tabas did not shy away from saying Trump was an issue when it came to the party’s problems with mail voting. He said the former president “was not a fan of mail-in balloting and was critical of it and that did not help.” But, to a large degree, Republicans in the state seem poised to move forward with mail voting regardless of what Trump says. Many have concluded they can’t win otherwise. Charlie Gerow, the Pennsylvania-based vice chair of the Conservative Political Action Coalition, likened the GOP’s approach to mail-in voting to a basketball player who abstains from shooting from behind the three-point line because he doesn’t like the rule. “You could play a game that way. And more times than not, you would lose,” he said. “Or you can say, ‘Hey, I don’t like the three-point line. But by gosh, I’m going to be the best three-point shooter you can find.’ And that’s what I think the Republicans have to be now.”

Miyares’ integrity unit is sop to election deniers – Virginia Mercury

By |2022-12-02T02:29:44-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Election 2020|

The state Attorney General’s Office doth protest too much.   Victoria LaCivita, spokeswoman for Attorney General Jason Miyares, says the Virginia NAACP owes the office’s lawyers and other employees “an apology” for reputedly “groundless attacks” about starting a 20-person election integrity unit to root out voting irregularities.   She and Miyares shouldn’t hold their breaths.  The NAACP blasted the unit at a news conference this week after obtaining documents about it under the Freedom of Information Act. The integrity unit is “a public relations ploy to pander to election deniers and conspiracy theorists, who are the real force undermining public confidence in our elections,” said NAACP Virginia President Robert N. Barnette Jr.   He and other critics are right.  Context here is essential:   Miyares created the office after insurrectionists had attacked the U.S. Capitol in early 2021 while attempting to overturn the presidential election results. Donald Trump had incited his supporters after repeatedly lying about Joe Biden’s victory.   Virginia is one of three states that created special units after the 2020 election, all involving Republican governors, attorneys general or legislatures. Their “discoveries” of wrongdoing have been negligible – especially given the total number of ballots cast. They haven’t uncovered systemic problems, the Associated Press reported.  Meanwhile, a 2021 state audit in Virginia verified Biden’s comfortable win in the commonwealth. Similarly, an audit this year found the 2021 statewide results – in which Miyares and other Republicans won – accurate, too.   The state unit is prosecuting a former top election official in Prince William County over misconduct allegations. But its creation is overblown given the lack of electoral problems in Virginia.   “The unit was both a restructuring of resources already existing in the office,” LaCivita told me by email Thursday, “and a fulfillment of a campaign promise, because Virginians expressed concerns to him about our elections as he traveled across the Commonwealth.”  If those concerns are irrational, though, should they be indulged? Isn’t it better to proclaim the system’s reliability and accuracy, as obviously is the case?   True, the AG’s office has often noted Virginia’s election system is strong – as Miyares wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in October. “There was no widespread voter fraud in Virginia or elsewhere in the country,” he said.  Too bad the attorney general neglected to say that in the Sept. 9 announcement of the unit’s start. The omission was glaring.  So, what other units will his office create when there’s scant evidence of wrongdoing? Miyares “believes in being proactive, rather than reactive,” LaCivita wrote.  That tack strains credulity. You don’t investigate a nonexistent problem – unless you’re politicizing it.  This is pandering to a populace that’s disinclined to listen to facts. This sop to election deniers harms democracy and undermines election workers. The unit should be disbanded.  GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX SUBSCRIBE

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