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Trump Lies Spurred Wave Of Death Threats Against Georgia Official — And His Family

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

After the New York Times' Maggie Haberman reported, on June 1, that former President Donald Trump believes he will be "reinstated" as president by August, many Trump critics — from liberals and progressives to Never Trump conservatives — warned that his delusions could inspire more attacks like the January 6 insurrection as well as an increase in threats against officials. The death threats, harassment and intimidation that election workers have been receiving from Trump supporters is the focus of in-depth article published by Reuters this week, and reporter Linda So shows that the abuse continues months after Trump's departure from the White House.

In her report, So emphasizes that the election workers who have suffered ongoing abuse range from high-level officials such as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (a conservative Republican) to low-level and mid-level election workers. Raffensperger, following the 2020 presidential election, infuriated Trump and his allies — including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and far-right attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood — by maintaining that now-President Joe Biden won Georgia fairly and that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state as Trump claimed. And Raffensperger, along with his wife Tricia Raffensperger, have been inundated with death threats ever since

So reports that on April 5, Tricia Raffensperger received a text message saying that a family member was "going to have a very unfortunate incident" — and that message was followed by one in mid-April saying, "We plan for the death of you and your family every day." Then, on April 24,

she received a text message saying, "You and your family will be killed very slowly."

Tricia Raffensperger, who is 65, told Reuters that because of all the death threats, she decided it was no longer safe for her grandchildren to visit her home. The Georgia secretary of state's wife explained, "I couldn't have them come to my house anymore. You don't know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff."

The 66-year-old Brad Raffensperger told Reuters, "Vitriol and threats are an unfortunate, but expected, part of public service. But my family should be left alone."

Georgia's secretary of state is hardly the only major election official who has been receiving death threats from Trump supporters. Others have ranged from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration, to Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

So explains, "Trump's relentless false claims that the vote was 'rigged' against him sparked a campaign to terrorize election officials nationwide, from senior officials such as Raffensperger to the lowest-level local election workers. The intimidation has been particularly severe in Georgia, where Raffensperger and other Republican election officials refuted Trump's stolen-election claims. The ongoing harassment could have far-reaching implications for future elections by making the already difficult task of recruiting staff and poll workers much harder, election officials say."

In Georgia, So observes, the "intimidation" has "gone well beyond Raffensperger and his family." The Reuters reporter notes that in Georgia, "Election workers, from local volunteers to senior administrators, continue enduring regular harassing phone calls and e-mails, according to interviews with election workers and the Reuters review of texts, e-mails and audio files provided by Georgia officials."

Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers www.youtube.com

Richard Barron, elections director for Fulton County, Georgia, told Reuters that his predominantly African-American staff has received hundreds of threats along with racial slurs. Barron told Reuters, "The racial slurs were disturbing and sickening." And one of the targets was Ralph Jones, who is part of Barron's staff and oversaw mail-in ballot operations in Fulton County (which includes Atlanta) in 2020. Jones told Reuters, "It was unbelievable: your life being threatened just because you're doing your job."

Carlos Nelson, elections supervisor for Ware County, Georgia, believes that the United States is facing a dire situation when poll workers are fearing for their safety.

Nelson told Reuters, "These are people who work for little or no money, 12 to 14 hours a day on Election Day. If we lose good poll workers, that's when we're going to lose democracy."

After Reuters published So's article, election law expert Richard L. Hasen quoted it extensively on his Election Law Blog and described it as a "must-read."

Here are some of the many reactions to the article on Twitter:

The GOP's Big, Shiny Voter Suppression Scheme Is Coming For You

Nobody wants to believe what they are seeing: the conversion of one of America's two major political parties into a cult of personality actively conspiring to overturn democratic rule in the United States. And doing so in broad daylight.

Irish poet William Butler Yeats put it best in The Second Coming, a poem written during the turmoil leading up to his country's civil war: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

I don't guess I need to stipulate which is which.

Given the magnitude of his 2020 defeat, there's little chance that Citizen Trump could come anywhere near an electoral majority come 2024. Always assuming that he's still alive, minimally functional, and not in prison, that is.

Purging the GOP of non-cultists like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) would appear likely to weaken, not strengthen, its appeal to the independent voters who decide American elections. With Citizen Trump's approval ratings stuck in the low 30s, nominating him can only lead to certain defeat.

Always assuming that citizens do get to vote, and that their votes actually count, which is where the mischief starts.

Of course, the whole thing could simply be yet another grift: scamming supporters for millions in "political" donations to support the Trump lifestyle.

True Believers, however, have grasped that for the Trump restoration to be achieved, millions either need to be disenfranchised, or, failing that, their votes overridden.

Purging voter rolls isn't likely to work. It's almost impossible to write laws removing Democratic voters without getting rid of Trump supporters too. As Stacey Abrams has proved in Georgia, guiding her party to win first the presidential race and two U.S. Senate runoffs, the surest way to stimulate Democratic voter turnout is to try to suppress it.

So Republican state legislators both in Georgia and at least 35 other states have come up with a plan to pursue the goals of Trump's failed January 6 coup attempt by legalistic means: weakening the authority of local election officials to tabulate the vote, and replacing them with partisan legislators.

The same farcical Georgia law that made it illegal to give water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots also gave its GOP legislature the power to remove and replace election officials in Democratically-controlled counties.

The legislature took authority to run Georgia elections away from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—the honorable Republican who recorded Trump's browbeating him to "find" enough votes to make him a winner—and gave themselves the power to simply reject outcomes they don't like.

Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times has documented cookie-cutter efforts in 36 states: "Last year, for example, Trump asked several GOP governors to refuse to certify their states' results — under the legal theory that if electoral votes for Biden weren't certified, they couldn't be counted.

"When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp refused, Trump called him 'worse than a Democrat' and threatened him with a primary challenge."

McManus quotes Edward B. Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University: "It's not too early to worry about January 6, 2025. They are trying to lay the groundwork [for 2024] to make sure local officials will jump if Trump tells them to jump…They didn't jump last time, but they might the next time."

Remember too that on January 6, with the odor of tear gas still redolent in the House chamber, 126 gutless GOP House members voted to reject the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania, which Biden won. Hence also the farcical, but no less dangerous "audit" of Maricopa County, Arizona's presidential vote by the previously unknown "Cyber Ninjas" firm.

They're the geniuses searching 2.1 million ballots for traces of bamboo, supposedly to prove they originated in China. No theory is too crazy for Trump cultists to embrace.

Never mind that Republican county officials responsible for managing the election have unanimously condemned the effort. "I think a small mushroom cloud will go up over Maricopa County if the Cyber Ninjas report that Donald Trump really was the winner of the election," Republican county recorder Stephen Richer has said.

And you know that's going to happen.

The Arizona gong show has zero authority to change anything. But to give you some idea, last week obscure Indiana congressman Greg Pence voted against establishing a January 6 commission on the grounds that "Hanging Judge Nancy Pelosi" was out to get Trump—the guy who egged on a mob chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" in the halls of Congress.

Greg and Mike are brothers.

Democrats are kidding themselves if they think that this kind of cowardly groveling before the Trump Cult will simply go away.

Cheney Backs Voter Suppression Bills Based On Trump’s Big Lie

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and her fellow Republican lawmakers who have lied about voter fraud in the 2020 election — so vocal, in fact, that she lost her position in House GOP leadership over it.

Yet in an interview with Axios that aired on Sunday, Cheney said she supports the voter suppression legislation Republicans have pushed across the country in 2021, even as the same lies of fraud are being used to justify those bills.

In the interview with Axios' Jonathan Swan, Cheney denied that the hundreds of voter suppression bills — some of which have already become law — were based on Trump's voter fraud lies.

"I will never understand the resistance, for example, to voter ID," Cheney told Axios' Jonathan Swan. "There's a big difference between that and a president of the United States who loses an election after he tried to steal the election and refuses to concede."

However, many of the more than 360 pieces of voter suppression legislation Republican state legislators have introduced this year attack the very same methods of voting Trump has falsely blamed for his loss.

For example, GOP-controlled state legislatures in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Iowa have all passed laws making it harder to vote by mail — a method of voting Trump falsely said is rife with fraud and demanded be scaled back in future elections.

Arizona's Republican governor recently signed into law a bill that purges the state's Permanent Early Voting List of voters who do not vote in two straight election cycles. The list allowed voters to opt to receive absentee ballots for every election, and the change could purge more than 125,000 voters from the list.

Georgia and Florida also now require ID to vote by mail, and both cut back on the use of ballot drop boxes — which Trump falsely said could lead to fraud.

Voting rights advocates say the changes are directly aimed at making it harder for voters of color to cast ballots. It's led voting rights experts to describe the GOP voter suppression effort as Jim Crow 2.0.

What's more, states like Georgia took away power from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — who refused to follow Trump's demand to steal the 2020 — and instead gave it to GOP state lawmakers who could use it to overturn elections.

"Had their grand plan been law in 2020, the numerous attempts by state legislatures to overturn the will of the voters would have succeeded," Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia state representative who now runs a voting rights organization, told the New York Times in March.

Ultimately, Cheney's refusal to fight back against voter suppression efforts shows she is still a Republican, even though she's bucked her party on support for Trump.

And the Republican Party has been the party of voter fraud lies and voter suppression even before Trump's 2020 effort to steal the election.

For example in 2019, conservatives in Wisconsin sought to purge more than 230,000 people from the voter rolls ahead of the 2020 election. The effort failed; however, a report showed that the purge would have affected Black voters at higher rates — a group that backs Democrats by wide margins.

Meanwhile, in 2016, Republicans in North Carolina passed a voter ID law that was struck down by a federal court, which said the law targeted "African Americans with almost surgical precision," and that it would "impose cures for problems that did not exist."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Conspiracy Theorists Force Another Sham Election ‘Audit’ — In Georgia

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A county court judge in Georgia on Friday agreed to let a group of election conspiracy theorists examine 145,000 absentee ballots cast in Fulton County in the 2020 general election, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, marking the latest attempt to search for voter fraud that multiple recounts and audits have already determined did not exist.

Georgia has already had three recounts of ballots in the state, which did not find discrepancies and cemented the fact that Joe Biden won by 11,779 votes.

The group of nine plaintiffs who sued to force the audit — including a self-proclaimed elections advocate named Garland Favorito — made wild and baseless allegations of voter fraud in Georgia's presidential election, and they want to prove it with another review of ballots.

During a hearing, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero said that the ballots would need to remain in the custody of Fulton County election officials.

This would presumably avoid the disaster that is currently taking place in Arizona, where a firm owned by a Donald Trump-supporting election conspiracy theorist is running a shoddy and scandal-plagued audit of the state's presidential results.

Election experts say the Arizona audit is not following proper protocol, with Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs saying the audit compromised voting equipment that now must be replaced, which could cost millions of dollars.

The Department of Justice raised concerns that the entire Arizona audit may be in violation of election law, which says that ballots must remain in custody of election officials for a certain period after an election.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia's audit will have election officials scan the absentee ballots so the plaintiffs can examine them.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a Trump ally who has lied about voter fraud and was part of the "stop the steal" effort that helped incite the insurrection by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, welcomed the news of the Georgia audit.

"Great news!" Greene tweeted after the judge's ruling. "The taxpayers pay for the ballots and they have every right to audit the elections."

Trump has also cheered on audits, thinking they will vindicate his voter fraud lies. He's made numerous comments about the Arizona audit, which one Arizona Republican official called "unhinged."

This all comes after Trump unsuccessfully tried to steal the Georgia election.

Trump pressured Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" the exact number of ballots Trump needed to declare him the winner of the state over Joe Biden. Raffensperger refused, and has stood by his assertion that the Georgia election was well run and that the results are accurate.

Voting rights groups are already condemning Georgia's new audit.

"To be clear: The latest Big Lie news out of Georgia is a sideshow, not an audit," Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group launched by Stacey Abrams, tweeted. "Media must not give it credibility through false word choices. Like Maricopa County's discredited 'audit' this is and will be a sham."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.