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Bills Targeting Local Officials Could Allow GOP to (Overturn) Election Results.

 
 
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2021 12:53 am
Bills Targeting Local Officials Could Allow GOP to (Overturn) Election Results.


PUBLISHED April 24, 2021


Quote:
Republicans in at least 14 states have introduced legislation that would seize power from election officials or limit their authority, apparently in response to unfounded attacks from former President Donald Trump and allies who sought to overturn his election loss.

Republican state legislators across the country have responded to Trump’s baseless election challenges, which were roundly rejected by dozens of judges, by rolling out more than 360 bills aimed at restricting voting access in nearly every state. But while much of the attention has focused on measures that would limit ballot access, like Georgia’s sweeping election bill, which Democrats have compared to Jim Crow-era restrictions, some of the proposals include provisions that would strip election officials of power and even impose criminal penalties for officials who defy the new restrictions.

Coverage of Georgia’s massive bill has largely focused on provisions that would restrict absentee ballot access and make it a crime to provide water or food to voters in long lines. But the bill also includes more insidious measures that could allow Republicans to give “themselves power to overturn election results,” Sylvia Albert, director of the voting and elections program at the nonpartisan voter advocacy group Common Cause, said in an interview with Salon.

For instance, the new law would allows the Republican-led state legislature to replace Georgia’s secretary of state — currently Brad Raffensperger, who pushed back on Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat — as chair of the state elections board, and then fill a majority of the panel with their own appointees. The bill further allows the newly-appointed election board majority to suspend and temporarily replace local election officials and take over county election offices. County boards determine voter eligibility and certify election results, meaning the state board appointee would theoretically have the power to disqualify certain voters or to refuse to certify the results, according to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The law also bars local election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications or accepting grant money that is used by some cash-strapped counties to run elections. Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams decried the provision as an “unprecedented power grab” intended to “alter election outcomes.”

“This bill is a tragedy for democracy, and it is built on the lie of voter fraud,” Lauren Groh Wargo, who heads the Abrams-founded voter advocacy group Fair Fight Action, said in a press call last month. “It means that radical, right-wing legislators, if they don’t like how elections are being run … can wholesale replace those election administrators and put folks from the other side of the state in charge.”

It remains to be seen how this would work in practice. Some election experts have noted that there are guardrails that could prevent officials from overturning election results. The law limits such takeovers to four counties at a time and includes measures requiring the board to show multiple violations in at least two election cycles and a process that would drag out for at least 30 days. But it would be easy for the board to find multiple violations in “any county,” argued Marilyn Marks, the executive director of the nonpartisan Coalition for Good Governance.

The law could “absolutely” be used to overturn election results, Albert said, given the repeated attempts by Trump supporters, including many Georgia Republicans and even Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to overturn the state’s results last year. “Politicians will look to use any avenue available to them to maintain power. Just because it might have a few steps doesn’t mean that they won’t do it or figure out ways to get around those steps.”

But it’s more likely this law would be used to “ensure that their suppression measures are successful,” Albert added. “What this is doing is saying, ‘Hey, we enacted suppressive state laws and we want to make sure no local election official actually attempts to help people overcome the burdens of those state laws.'”

Some of the provisions in the Georgia law appear directly aimed at heavily Black and Democratic Atlanta-area Fulton and DeKalb counties. Texas lawmakers have introduced their own sweeping set of proposed voting restrictions that similarly target Harris County, the state’s most populous, including the city of Houston, where Democratic officials expanded ballot access last year.

Texas Senate Bill 7 explicitly bans 24-hour early voting, drive-through voting, and the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot applications, all of which were measures taken or attempted by Harris County officials last year. Texas House Bill 6 would make it a felony for election officials to mail pre-filled absentee ballot applications or even encourage eligible voters to cast ballots by mail or take any action to change election rules without the consent of the state’s Republican secretary of state.

While those two bills have already advanced in their respective chambers, a third proposal that is still pending would shift all power over voter registration and voter roll maintenance from county officials to the Republican secretary of state.

Republicans in Arizona also pushed a proposal that would have allowed the GOP-led legislature to overturn election results and appoint their own electors, though that effort was ultimately quashed. But the state legislature, which has introduced two dozen restrictive bills, is still looking at bills that would bar the secretary of state from sending unsolicited mail-in ballots and another proposal that would shift approval of the state’s election manual to the legislature.

“They don’t serve any purpose, except for the Legislature just trying to insert themselves into the process, create obstruction, and say that they did something in the name of election integrity without actually doing anything that does that,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told The New York Times. “The Legislature wasn’t interested in control over elections until I got here and happened to have a ‘D’ by my name.”

Iowa Republicans have already passed a package of voting restrictions that include measures making it a felony for election officials to disobey any guidance from the Republican secretary of state and imposing $10,000 fines for any “technical infractions” of the state’s election laws. It also bars county officials from sending unsolicited absentee-ballot applications and restricts their ability to open satellite early-voting sites.

“This is a total takeover of elections by the state,” Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who was among several local election officials in Iowa targeted by Trump and Republicans, told the Associated Press. “We did everything we could to increase participation and engagement in the democratic process, and evidently some people thought that more people participated than they wanted and they decided to put limitations on it.”

Arkansas Republicans have advanced bills that would give partisan county election boards total power over local election officials, move oversight of election law violations from county officials to the state election board, and ban officials from mailing unsolicited absentee-ballot applications. A pending proposal would also allow the state election board to take over local election offices.

Missouri lawmakers recently advanced a bill that would allow the secretary of state to audit and purge voters from any local election office’s voter rolls. The bill threatens to cut funding to noncompliant offices and restricts mail-in voting. Another pending proposal would impose misdemeanor penalties on election officials who failed to purge voters within 10 days of their death.

South Carolina Republicans have rolled out a bill that would give the state legislature more oversight over the members appointed to the state’s independent election commission.

An analysis by FiveThirtyEight identified 14 states with bills aimed at undermining election officials, including proposals to ban the mailing of unsolicited absentee-ballot applications in Michigan, Tennessee, Connecticut and South Dakota and bills restricting the mailing of absentee ballots in New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Wisconsin.

While the measures are not expected to get far in Democratic-led states — except in Michigan where Republican state lawmakers are plotting to subvert Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vow to veto any voting restrictions — they are likely to advance in states where the GOP has attacked “election officials who did not support Trump’s lies,” Albert said.

Republicans have justified the proposals by arguing that election officials overreached in their efforts to expand mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic and took “the law into their own hands” against the wishes of elected state lawmakers.

“It’s a bunch of BS,” Albert said in response to the Republican argument. “It is clearly an attempt to take power away not just from local election officials, but from Americans.” Republicans, she added, are effectively giving themselves “the power to eliminate democracy in elections … what they’re saying they want to do is take away the rights of Americans to elect their representatives.”

Some advocates have also warned that many of these measures are aimed at counties with quickly changing demographics after record turnout among voters of color in 2020.

“The part that I think is so concerning is the retaliation,” Myrna Pérez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told FiveThirtyEight. “Look at who on the ground would actually be impeded [by these laws]. That suggests to me a real opposition to an expanded electorate.”

Democrats have responded to the voting restrictions proposed in dozens of states by championing the For the People Act, also known as H.R. 1 and S. 1, a massive legislative package including voter protections, anti-corruption measures and other provisions. It is unlikely to pass in its current form unless Democrats can reform the filibuster and convince conservative Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., to back it. But while the bill could protect voters from some restrictions, it would do little to prevent partisan power grabs of local election powers.

That issue has been raised as the bill goes through the Senate, but “off the top of my head, I honestly don’t know what type of provision one would add to H.R. 1 that would address this,” Albert said.

Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus have urged Democrats to focus instead on passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the Voting Rights Act requirement for states with a history of racial discrimination to pre-clear any electoral changes with the Justice Department, which was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Albert argued that there may be a legitimate way to address these attacks on local authorities through pre-clearance. “A strong argument could be made that changing the power of local election officials is definitely a change to election law that would have an effect on Black and brown communities,” she said.

Albert compared the Republican push to take over local election powers to authoritarian regimes in Russia and North Korea.

“America is one of the only democracies that does not have elections run by a nonpartisan government entity,” she said. “What you’re seeing right now is the danger of politicians running elections. We should all be very much on guard.”


https://truthout.org/articles/bills-targeting-local-officials-could-allow-gop-to-overturn-election-results/
 
Real Music
 
  3  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2021 01:30 am
14 GOP-Controlled States Have Passed Laws to Impede Free Elections.


Published June 10, 2021


Quote:
Donald Trump will not be “reinstated” as president by August, as some of his supporters and allegedly the former president himself seem to believe. But Republicans are rushing to change the rules to make it easier for their party to overturn the will of the voters in future elections.

While GOP-controlled legislatures rush to make it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote, they are also intensifying their control over how elections are run and how votes are counted, after Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election results. Twenty-four new laws have been passed in 14 states this year that will allow state legislatures to “politicize, criminalize, and interfere in election administration,” according to a report released Thursday by three voting rights groups, States United Democracy Center, Law Forward, and Protect Democracy. Overall, 216 bills have been introduced in 41 states to achieve these ends.

When Texas Republicans scrambled to pass a massive voter suppression bill over Memorial Day weekend, they included a provision written behind closed doors with no public scrutiny that would make it easier for judges to throw out election results. Under the plan, losing candidates would no longer have to prove that individual fraudulent votes swung the election but rather that the number of allegedly fraudulent votes exceeded the margin of victory—which is exactly what Trump falsely alleged in 2020. The measure would also lower the burden of proof needed to demonstrate illegal voting, so that candidates only have to show a “preponderance of evidence” instead of “clear and convincing evidence.”

“They could use this to overthrow the voice of the people,” Democratic state Rep. John Bucy III said on the House floor. “We no longer have to prove voter fraud to overthrow an election result, we can simply do it.” Though the bill failed to pass when House Democrats staged a dramatic walkout, denying Republicans the quorum needed to approve it, it is expected to be resurrected at a special legislative session later this year.

Other GOP-controlled states have already changed their laws to make it easier to void election results. As part of its sweeping voter suppression law, Georgia’s heavily gerrymandered legislature removed Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger as the chair and a voting member of the state election board after he rebuffed Trump’s attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. The legislature will now appoint a majority of board members, and the board, in turn, can take over up to four county election boards it deems “underperforming”—raising the prospect that Republicans could assume control of election operations in heavily Democratic areas like Atlanta’s Fulton County. In concert with a provision allowing right-wing groups to mount an unlimited number of challenges to voter eligibility, these changes will make it easier for Republicans to contest close elections and possibly overturn the results.

A similar law passed in Arkansas would allow the State Board of Election Commissioners, which has a strong GOP majority, to decertify election results if they find a “violation of the voter registration laws or election laws” and to take over county election operations in “severe” cases. The state police would also be authorized to look into alleged cases of illegal voting, which could have a chilling effect on voter participation.

“I’m very worried that now we have a new playbook that partisans across the country are going to start using to try to affect and influence the outcome of elections,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, said on a call with reporters on Thursday.

In five GOP-run states—Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana—the legislature has usurped election authority that previously belonged to other state officials, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. These moves include measures to prevent governors or secretaries of state from modifying election laws or procedures without legislative approval, even in an emergency situation like a pandemic or natural disaster. Some of these efforts are nakedly partisan: In Arizona, where the state Senate has authorized a shamaudit of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County designed to weaponize Trump’s Big Lie about fraud in 2020, a House committee recently passed a provision preventing the Democratic secretary of state from defending state election laws and transferring that power to Arizona’s Republican attorney general—but only through the 2022 election, in case the partisan composition of the offices is reversed after that.

Meanwhile, Republicans in states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are attempting to replicate Arizona’s discredited audit.

As GOP-controlled legislatures take control over election administration, they are also criminalizing efforts by election officials that would make it easier to vote. A provision in Texas’s voter suppression bill would make it a felony for election officials to give a mail ballot request form to a voter who has not requested one. Overall, the Texas law could subject election officials to criminal penalties for 14 kinds of actions, such as obstructing access for partisan poll watchers and modifying state election procedures. Election officials in Iowa could face a $10,000 fine for “technical infractions” of election law. Arizona passed a law making it a felony for an election official to modify an election-related date or deadline unless ordered by a court to do so. Bills passed in Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas would make it a crime for volunteer groups to pass out water or food to voters waiting in line.

These bills are part of the greatest assault on voting rights since the end of Reconstruction. (During the Jim Crow era, segregationist white Democrats also consolidated control over election administration.) And they raise the likelihood of a nightmare scenario where GOP-controlled state legislatures use their increased power to override a Democratic victory in 2024 or persuade Republicans in Congress, if they regain power in 2022, to do the same.

“The 2021 state legislative season may ultimately prove to be a turning point in the history of America’s democracy,” the new report states.

These are the ingredients for a democracy crisis.”


https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/06/14-gop-controlled-states-have-passed-laws-to-impede-free-elections/
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2021 05:33 am
@Real Music,
The reality is that unless voters get upset about voting rights, this is just going to continue. If there is no political penalty and considerable upside to tilting elections in your favor, it is going to be a race to the bottom with everyone trying to knock out demographics they don't like and don't want to represent.
Real Music
 
  3  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2021 11:44 pm
@engineer,
1. I agree.

2. I am voter.

3. I am upset at how republicans all over the nation are actively proposing and passing laws
that deliberately seek to abolish American democracy.

4. I will continue to help shine a spotlight on what is occurring.
0 Replies
 
Real Music
 
  3  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2021 12:16 am
70+ Organizations Launch ‘Deadline For Democracy,’ Massive July Recess Cross-Movement Mobilization.


Published June 14, 2021


Quote:
Campaign driving constituent rallies, protests, calls, and more to pressure lawmakers to pass the For the People Act before August

Washington, DC — Today, Indivisible, Declaration for American Democracy Coalition, Stand Up America, End Citizens United Action Fund, Common Cause, Fix Our Senate, Advancement Project, Transformative Justice Coalition, Just Democracy, and over 70 other organizations are launching Deadline For Democracy, a cross-movement mobilization plan for the July Recess demanding lawmakers act urgently to defend democracy and pass the For the People Act by August:

"We're running out of time to pass the For the People Act. Senator Schumer has said repeatedly that 'failure is not an option' and we're taking him at his word, " said Ezra Levin, co-founder and co-executive director of Indivisible. "The 1964 Civil Rights Act overcame a 54-day filibuster to become law. The 1965 Voting Rights Act took a month of floor debate before overcoming the threat of the filibuster. Then, as now, the Jim Crow filibuster did not go down quietly. We recognize the historic moment we are in, and we're mobilizing like the future of the Republic depends on it. This is the Deadline for Democracy, and everyday Americans from every corner of the country and across movements will be taking action to defend our democracy. The fight has not yet begun, but it's coming, and we're bringing it."

"The freedom to vote is under attack across the country and the best way to fight back is for Congress to take up and pass the For the People Act,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund. “With Deadline Democracy, we're going to send a clear message that Americans across the country demand their Senators do whatever it takes to pass this critical legislation to protect voting rights, end dark money, and put power in the hands of the people, not big donors and special interests."

“We refuse to allow white supremacists to dismantle our democracy to maintain their own power,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office. “The strategy of voting rights opponents is to limit access to the ballot box, shift power from Black and Brown communities to reliably conservative legislatures, and maintain the ability of billionaires to buy elections. It is clear that the way to combat such attacks on our democracy is to ensure everyone has the right to vote in free, fair and safe elections. We urge Congress to take a stand for the people by passing the For the People Act this summer.”

“From protecting the freedom to vote, to ending gerrymandering, to getting big money out of politics and strengthening ethics, the For the People Act is the bold solution that the American people are demanding,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “At a time when partisan politicians are trying to create more barriers to voting and silence our voices, there is an urgent need to pass this essential legislation. This bill is supported by everyday Americans, including a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Nothing, including the filibuster, should block it from passage and delivering the promise of democracy to all Americans.”

“Our democracy is in grave danger,” said Christina Harvey, Managing Director of Stand Up America. “Just five months ago, a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 election. Since then, motivated by the same Big Lie, state legislators across the country have introduced over 380 bills in 48 states attacking our freedom to vote. These efforts are surgically tailored to reduce access to the ballot box, especially for Black and brown Americans. Time is running out to save our democracy. Congress must act quickly, and cast aside the arcane and outdated Jim Crow filibuster, in order to pass two vital pieces of legislation: the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Stand Up America will continue to put the full force of our 2 million member community behind fighting for their passage.”

“Our democracy is strongest when everyone’s voices are heard fairly and equally. Amid efforts across state legislatures to curtail voting rights, and as corporate interests pervade our political systems, the For the People Act is the bold and necessary solution to transform our democracy into one that reflects the voice of all Americans,” said Jana Morgan, director of the Declaration for American Democracy coalition. “Advancing fair representation in our government by installing necessary checks against corporate corruption, eliminating partisan gerrymandering, and establishing federal election standards that strengthen the freedom vote for all Americans—especially Black, Brown, Indigenous and historically underrepresented communities—is critical. That is why our coalition of over 220 organizations across various issue areas is urging the Senate and Biden administration to swiftly pass this sweeping package of reforms, which has strong, popular support from voters across all party lines, to make the promises of democracy real for us all.”

"Republican governors and state legislatures aren’t reaching across the aisle when they’re pushing elections bills though in states across the country — they're strategically attacking the right to vote and are confident that Senator McConnell will have their back," said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Fix Our Senate. "Right now the Senate is hopelessly gridlocked by the filibuster, a Jim Crow relic that has thwarted progress on civil and voting rights for a century. There is only one choice: the Senate must act swiftly and decisively to eliminate the filibuster as a weapon that Sen. McConnell can use to block progress on voting rights and democracy legislation. Time is running out and, as Leader Schumer has said, 'failure is not an option.'"

"Our democracy is on the line, and there's no time to waste: Lawmakers in Congress must pass the For The People Act swiftly," said Rev. Dr. Stephany Spaulding, spokesperson for Just Democracy and Founder of Truth & Conciliation. "For too long, anti-democratic actors and institutions have deliberately kept Black and Brown people out of equal participation in our democracy. It's time to fight back against Republican attacks on voting rights at the state legislative level and build a functioning and just democracy. Lawmakers on the fence must decide if they want history to remember them as aligned with the segregationist agenda, or as champions of strengthening our democracy."

“I have labored in the vineyard of the struggle for Voting Rights for decades,” said Barbara Arnwine, President & Founder of Transformative Justice Coalition. “I can think of no more critical of a time to stand up for our democracy than this moment, this day, this hour, this minute! We are traveling throughout the states in which voters have been wounded by the onslaught of vicious voter suppression legislation. We now bring directly to Congress the outcry of the newly disenfranchised voters who ask mercifully for protection by the passage of The For The People Act.“

The Deadline for Democracy campaign is in response to recent Republican state-level attacks on voting rights and the decades-long Republican campaign to undermine democracy. The For the People Act has critical provisions that will counter attacks by Republicans, including new voter protections, election security provisions, bans on partisan gerrymandering, and helps get big money out of politics. The campaign is called ‘Deadline For Democracy,’ because the Senate must pass the For the People Act by August in order for states to implement them prior to the 2022 midterm elections.

Some ways Indivisible, Declaration for American Democracy Coalition, Stand Up America, End Citizens United Action Fund, Common Cause, Fix Our Senate, Advancement Project, Transformative Justice Coalition, Just Democracy, and the other 70+ organizations will use their resources to help activists pressure the Senate to pass democracy reform before the end of summer include:

***Helping organize protests, light brigades, meeting with lawmakers, rallies, parades, and more creative, eye-catching displays,

***Facilitating trainings, community planning spaces, and media support,

***Providing grants and direct financial support, swag, and support with distributed fundraising platforms.


https://indivisible.org/statement/70-organizations-launch-deadline-democracy-massive-july-recess-cross-movement
0 Replies
 
Real Music
 
  3  
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2021 07:42 pm
TX Dems force GOP to walk back ‘Horrendous’ provision to Overturn elections.

Texas GOP claim they don’t know who added what they now denounce as a “horrendous” provision making it easier to overturn elections. Texas State Rep. Julie Johnson says Senate GOP “slid it in at the last minute” trying to catch Democrats off guard, but “we didn’t let it happen.” Texas State Rep. John Bucy III said Democrats gained “multiple wins” after their walkout forced GOP to walk back several bad provisions and vow to continue the fight for voting rights.


Published July 6, 2021

0 Replies
 
Real Music
 
  2  
Reply Tue 13 Jul, 2021 09:13 pm
Texas Governor threatens to arrest Democrats.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is threatening to arrest State Democrats who fled the state to prevent the passage of voter suppression laws.

Published July 13, 2021

0 Replies
 
Real Music
 
  2  
Reply Fri 16 Jul, 2021 12:51 pm

0 Replies
 
Real Music
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2021 01:00 am
Senator Joe Manchin Pleads With GOP To Support Voting Rights Bill.

Published August 11, 2021

0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2021 04:02 am
I am at a point where I feel that anyone voting for ANY REPUBLICAN (dog catchers, included) is committing a treasonous act against America.

They have lost their collective minds...and the few resisting are simply not powerful enough to put the party back on the tracks.
0 Replies
 
 

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