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

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.”

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Real Music
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2021 01:30 am
14 GOP-Controlled States Have Passed Laws to Impede Free Elections.

Published June 10, 2021

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.”

0 Replies
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
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2021 11:44 pm
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
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2021 12:16 am
70+ Organizations Launch ‘Deadline For Democracy,’ Massive July Recess Cross-Movement Mobilization.

Published June 14, 2021

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.

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

0 Replies
Real Music
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
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
Real Music
Reply Thu 30 Sep, 2021 01:30 am
Sanders: 'I'm tired of talking about Mr. Manchin And Miss Sinema'

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tells Andrea Mitchell that he’s
“tired of talking about Mr. Manchin and Miss Sinema” when it comes to abolishing the
filibuster to pass bills, including voting rights with a simple majority. When asked, he tells
Andrea that there's no bipartisan compromise to be had on voting rights that would
overcome the filibuster, because he doesn't believe that there are Republicans in the
Senate "prepared to vote to support democracy and voting rights I would love to seen
them, there aren't any. That's the sad reality.

Publihed: Jun 23, 2021

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Wed 13 Oct, 2021 08:26 am
U.S. democracy in danger as GOP surrenders to Trump.

October 12, 2021

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2021 12:40 am
Joe Manchin Probably Shocked, Maybe Embarrassed, That (His) Voting Rights Bill Got No GOP Votes.

Rachel Maddow reports on the voting rights bill that Senate Republicans filibustered to failure, and points out that this was the bill that Joe Manchin wrote (himself) in place of the Democratic bill because he said Republicans would vote for it and not use the filibuster.

No Republicans voted for it.

Published: Oct 20, 2021

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2021 12:54 am
1. Joe Manchin wrote his own voting rights bill that he claim would get republican votes.

2. Every Senate republican voted against Joe Manchin's voting rights bill.

3. Let me repeat that one more time:
Every Senate republican voted against Joe Manchin's voting rights bill.

4. I wonder what Joe Manchin is going to do next.
0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Sun 12 Dec, 2021 09:02 pm
1. Does anyone know if Joe Manchin has attempted any follow-up moves, after every Republican Senator spit in his face
with an overwhelmingly "no" vote on Manchin's "voting right s bill"?

2. You would have thought that after this, that Manchin would clearly see that there are absolutely no republicans in the Senate
interested in any meaningful "voting rights bill".

3. They clearly weren't interested in Joe Manchin's "voting rights bill".

4. Will Joe Manchin finally come to the conclusion that maybe he just might have to consider a filibuster carve-out
for the "voting rights bill?"

5. If it helps, have a filibuster carve-out on the "voting rights bill" that Joe Manchin himself wrote.

6. For anyone who don't know what I am referring to, just view the last video I posted in this thread
dated on Oct 20, 2021.
0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Sun 12 Dec, 2021 11:27 pm
Mark Warner on filibuster:

I would 'carve out an exception around voting rights'

Published: Oct 27, 2021

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Sun 26 Dec, 2021 08:01 pm
Republicans Are Ready to Suppress The Vote in 2022

Published: Dec 25, 2021

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2022 02:11 am
State Lawmakers Attacks on Voting Rights

More voter restriction laws were passed in 2021 than any other year in the last decade, and it
doesn't look like it'll be stopping any time soon. Republican state lawmakers are floating legislation
that would establish election security police forces, and hundreds of mail-in ballot applications are
being rejected under Texas' new restrictive voting law.

Aired: January 23, 2022

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2022 12:01 am
‘It’s going to be an army’:
Tapes reveal GOP plan to contest elections.

By Heidi Przybyla

Published June 2, 2022

Video recordings of Republican Party operatives meeting with grassroots activists provide an inside look at a multi-pronged strategy to target and potentially overturn votes in Democratic precincts: Install trained recruits as regular poll workers and put them in direct contact with party attorneys.

The plan, as outlined by a Republican National Committee staffer in Michigan, includes utilizing rules designed to provide political balance among poll workers to install party-trained volunteers prepared to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places, developing a website to connect those workers to local lawyers and establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts.

“Being a poll worker, you just have so many more rights and things you can do to stop something than [as] a poll challenger,” said Matthew Seifried, the RNC’s election integrity director for Michigan, stressing the importance of obtaining official designations as poll workers in a meeting with GOP activists in Wayne County last Nov. 6. It is one of a series of recordings of GOP meetings between summer of 2021 and May of this year obtained by POLITICO.

Backing up those front-line workers, “it’s going to be an army,” Seifried promised at an Oct. 5 training session. “We’re going to have more lawyers than we’ve ever recruited, because let’s be honest, that’s where it’s going to be fought, right?”

Seifried also said the RNC will hold “workshops” and equip poll workers with a hotline and website developed by Zendesk, a software support company used by online retailers, which will allow them to live-chat with party attorneys on Election Day. In a May, 2022 training session, he said he’d achieved a goal set last winter: More than 5,600 individuals had signed up to be poll workers and, several days ago, he submitted an initial list of more than 850 names to the Detroit clerk.

Democrat Janice Winfrey, who serves as the clerk, would be bound to pick names from the list submitted by the party under a local law intended to ensure bipartisan representation and an unbiased team of precinct workers.

Separately, POLITICO obtained Zoom tapings of Tim Griffin, legal counsel to The Amistad Project, an self-described election-integrity group that Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani once portrayed as a “partner” in the Trump campaign’s legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election, meeting with activists from multiple states and discussing plans for identifying friendly district attorneys who could stage real-time interventions in local election disputes.

On the recording, Griffin speaks of building a nationwide network of district attorney allies and how to create a legal “trap” for Winfrey.

“Remember, guys, we're trying to build out a nationwide district attorney network. Your local district attorney, as we always say, is more powerful than your congressman,” Griffin said during a Sept. 21 meeting. “They're the ones that can seat a grand jury. They're the ones that can start an investigation, issue subpoenas, make sure that records are retained, etc.,” he said.

POLITICO obtained about a dozen recordings from people who were invited to listen to the meetings. Seifried referred POLITICO’s requests for comment to the RNC. Griffin, through the Thomas More Society, which runs Amistad, did not return repeated calls and texts to spokesperson Tom Ciesielka.

A spokesperson for the RNC said the party is attempting to rectify an imbalance in favor of Democratic election workers in large urban areas, particularly Detroit, a city that votes reliably Democratic by more than 90 percent. Just 170 of more than 5,400 Detroit election officials were Republicans in 2020, according to the RNC.

"Democrats have had a monopoly on poll watching for 40 years, and it speaks volumes that they're terrified of an even playing field,” said RNC spokesperson Gates McGavick. “The RNC is focused on training volunteers to take part in the election process because polling shows that American voters want bipartisan poll-watching to ensure transparency and security at the ballot box."

In the introduction graphic on his training presentation, Seifried says the RNC’s goal is to “make it easy to vote and HARD TO CHEAT.”

But election watchdog groups and legal experts say many of these recruits are answering the RNC’s call because they falsely believe fraud was committed in the 2020 election, so installing them as the supposedly unbiased officials who oversee voting at the precinct level could create chaos in such heavily Democratic precincts.

“This is completely unprecedented in the history of American elections that a political party would be working at this granular level to put a network together,” said Nick Penniman, founder and CEO of Issue One, an election watchdog group. “It looks like now the Trump forces are going directly after the legal system itself and that should concern everyone.”

Penniman also expressed concern about the quick-strike networks of lawyers and DAs being created, suggesting that politically motivated poll workers could simply initiate a legal conflict at the polling place that disrupts voting and then use it as a vehicle for rejecting vote counts from that precinct.

Democratic National Committee spokesperson Ammar Moussa said the DNC “trains poll watchers to help every eligible voter cast a ballot,” but neither the DNC nor the state party trains poll workers. The DNC did help recruit poll workers in 2020 due to a drop-off in older workers amid the pandemic; but he says it is not currently doing so and has never trained poll workers to contest votes.

On the tapes, some of the would-be poll workers lamented that fraud was committed in 2020 and that the election was “corrupt.” Installing party loyalists on the Board of Canvassers, which is responsible for certifying the election, also appears to be part of the GOP strategy. In Wayne County, which includes Detroit, Republicans nominated to their board a man who said he would not have certified the 2020 election.

Both Penniman and Rick Hasen, a law and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, said they see a domino effect that could sow doubts about the election even when there was no original infraction: A politically motivated poll worker connecting with a zealous local lawyer to disrupt voting, followed by a challenge to the Board of Canvassers that may have nothing to do with the underlying dispute but merely the level of disruption at the polling place.

“You shouldn’t have poll workers who are reporting to political organizations what they see,” Hasen said. “It creates the potential for mucking things up at polling places and potentially leading to delays or disenfranchisement of voters,” especially “if [the poll workers] come in with the attitude that something is crooked with how elections are run.”

The precinct strategy

The recordings are among the first windows into what former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, who’s been urging listeners to his podcast to take on election leadership positions, calls “the precinct strategy.”

But Penniman, the election watchdog, believes the strategy is designed to create enough disputes to justify intervention by GOP-controlled state legislatures, who declined to take such steps in 2020.

“Come election day you create massive failure of certification” in Democratic precincts, Penniman said. “The real hope is that you can throw the choosing of electors to state legislatures.”

Participants in the recorded training sessions said their goal is to root out fraud, not just achieve more Republican poll workers in majority Democratic precincts.

Among panelists at a May 14 “Election Integrity” summit in Detroit was Jacky Eubanks, a Trump-endorsed state house candidate who warned “kids my age who are communists do and will staff our elections” in urging Republicans to become “paid, full-time elections workers” to police absentee ballot signatures, according to a recording of the summit.

Speaking separately to Macomb County Republicans, Eubanks also recently said, “The election system is rigged, and who best to steal it but our clerks.”

During the May 14 election-integrity summit, Seifried said the party is now actively recruiting lawyers and that he wanted to “start reaching out to law enforcement.”

Patrick Colbeck, a former member of the Michigan state Senate and former gubernatorial candidate, said at the same summit that he is “working with another organization right now” on “developing a kit for law enforcement” because many don’t understand election law and it will give them “tools that identify and enforce election fraud more effectively.”

Eubanks did not respond to requests for comment. In an email to POLITICO, Colbeck said there should be “regular training” for law enforcement on election laws.

A focus on Michigan

A central theater for the party’s “election integrity” organizing, Michigan is among a number of battleground states where party loyalists are being groomed to serve as inspectors in the next presidential election. Seifried estimated the RNC is committing $35 million to election integrity efforts nationwide, similar to what it spent in the last cycle in battleground state efforts. He is one of 16 state directors.

For decades, the RNC was barred from so-called “ballot security” measures after it settled an early 1980s case in which it was accused of voter suppression in violation of the Voting Rights Act, including sending armed police officers off duty to polling places in minority areas. In 2018, a federal judge allowed that consent decree to expire.

“The 2020 election would have been the first year that the RNC could have done anything with election integrity,” said Seifried in the tapes.

Of all former President Donald Trump’s battleground-state allies, Republican operatives in the state of Michigan came the closest to throwing the 2020 election — and the nation — into a constitutional crisis. So many volunteer challengers overwhelmed Detroit’s TCF Center, where votes were being counted, that police intervened because Covid safety protocols had been breached.

The poll watchers accused poll workers of “bullying” them and blocking them from voting tables due to pandemic social distancing requirements. They also falsely alleged “phony ballots” were smuggled into the center, helping lay the predicate for a weeks-long delay in certifying the state’s electoral votes. That’s despite the fact that then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden had won the state by more than 154,000 votes.

In the recorded meeting with activists in March, Seifried said there “was a lot of disorganization, a lot of lack of preparedness and I’ve heard horror story after horror story,” referring to the GOP watchers barred by police due to Covid restrictions.

“We’re going to have lawyers that work to build relationships with different judges so that when that happens, we’re going to have lawyers that have relationships with the police chiefs in the different areas, with the police officers in the different areas so that when that happens with preexisting relationships already established so that they can’t lie,” Seifried said during an October 2021 training session in Oakland County.

A GOP-led committee found no evidence of widespread fraud in Michigan’s 2020 election and recommended the state’s attorney general investigate those who made false claims "to raise money or publicity for their own ends.” Numerous lawsuits were dismissed in court.

In the tapes, Seifried cites specific grievances from 2020: that “unsolicited” absentee ballots were mailed by the Secretary of State, that not all clerks were required to match signatures on absentee ballot applications, that the number of ballot drop-off locations were dramatically increased and that Democratic areas received more outside funding to increase voting access than Republican areas.

How to Challenge a Voter

In 2022 and 2024, instead of untrained volunteers, the goal is for GOP recruits to have undergone training and be equipped with new tools, according to Seifried.

Before sharing a slide on “How to Challenge a Voter,” Seifried outlined a series of scenarios under which recruits could contest voters or voting processes, though he cautioned it is illegal to challenge every vote.

“You have to have good reason to believe that an individual is not a citizen, that an individual is not of legal voting age. If an individual does not live at the location that they're registered at, or if the person is not registered at all,” he said during a March 2022 meeting.

This also includes if a voter received an absentee ballot but is voting in person. He also urged recruits to approach clerks, including attending “public accuracy” meetings to question them about how voting machines work, recording machine numbers, requesting copies of tabulator results before and after voting begins and challenging clerks to prove their machines are not connected to the internet.

When asked about the strategy, an RNC spokesperson initially said recruits are not being trained to challenge voters. The RNC later responded by citing a Michigan election law excerpt that election workers “shall” challenge a voter if the inspector “knows or has good reason to suspect” the voter is ineligible and noted that a judge would ultimately review the case.

In an October meeting, Seifried said priority targets are Detroit, Pontiac and Southfield, which are heavily Democratic and minority areas. “Those are the ones that we need to focus all our efforts on,” he said.

Grassroots groups aligned with Trump are helping with recruitment. They include “Stand Up Michigan,” whose members adapted the Village People’s hit “YMCA” to “MAGA,” Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. While the law stipulates election inspectors must be trained by local clerks, candidates are also being coached on things to look out for by operatives in RNC-sponsored workshops.

Chris Thomas, who served for 36 years as elections director under one Democratic and three Republican secretaries of state, said he’s spent time with Seifried, who seems to be trying to be “above board” about his plans to create more equal representation among poll workers.

“He claims not to be a ‘Stop the Steal’ type but obviously all of the people he’s talking to are,” said Thomas. ”They’re going to be all ginned up thinking they’re going to see all kinds of stuff.”

“If Seifried is honest with them,” he will tell them they won’t see much, added Thomas. “There’s little to no history of election inspectors challenging people” based on qualifications to vote, and if they create chaos, “that’s just going to get them [the poll workers] thrown out.”

The potential for conflict is clear. In a training in March, Seifried told recruits to stand behind voter registration tables to “oversee the electronic poll book to make sure the person that is coming in to vote is who they say they are.” Voters should be challenged by alerting precinct chairs and then recruits should call the RNC legal hotline or log the complaint in a website with a live chat so “we can communicate with you real time.”

“Ideally, you guys will all be the election inspector,” said Seifried. “You have so much more authority because you’re the one that’s actually administering the election.”

While Seifried stressed challengers “cannot obstruct voting in any way” and not to be “adversarial,” Thomas said it is wrong to suggest a first-time worker would be in charge of a poll book and such workers have “no right to require inspectors to toggle through” poll books.

The first question in the Zoom chat: “How do we stop the counts if the person of authority doesn’t respect the challenges made like at TCF in Detroit?” Another asked what to do if someone is “clearly” using a fake I.D. to vote. Seifried said to “try challenging it.”

The effort has been underway for months, and GOP officials are planning to use Aug. 2 primary elections in Detroit as a dry run, according to Seifried.

“The early hours on election day Aug. 2 will tell the story about whether this is a legitimate operation or an attempt to slow the process to discourage voting,” said Thomas.

Pressuring the Detroit clerk

The approach is proceeding as planned.

In an interview, Winfrey, the Detroit elections clerk, confirmed that the RNC delivered a list of more than 800 names in early May and that she is likely to give “a good number” of the individuals roles as long as they attend training sessions and are confirmed registered voters.

“Before every election we always reach out to both the Democratic and Republican parties to let them know we are recruiting poll workers” and “we get what we get,” or mostly Democrats in a majority Democratic-voting city.

The list comes nearly a year after Griffin, during a June, 2021 meeting, outlined how GOP lawyers could corner Winfrey into either hiring their recruits or establishing the basis for a lawsuit. “How do we build the proper evidence and how do we build a trap for Janice Winfrey?” said Griffin.

Submitting a list of people “whom she’s not going to hire” would open “up the door for a mandamus lawsuit for them to start following the law,” or seating more Republicans. Two months later, in a separate meeting, Griffin reiterated the strategy is building lists of Republican poll workers who might be rejected and hence “creating the evidence for future cases.”

When informed of the tapes, Winfrey said she is “not shocked” and “not in any way intimidated.”

“Apparently they think I’m stupid,” she said. “Apparently they think I don’t follow the law. I’m not surprised by their ignorance.”

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