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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: dominion voting systems

In Nevada County, A Harbinger Of The Chaos That Election Deniers Will Wreak

Pahrump, Nevada– One day after Nevada’s Supreme Court and Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske shut down a hand count of 2022 general election ballots in a rural county whose GOP leaders fell under the spell of 2020 election deniers, the man at the center of that political storm – Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf – was determined to resurrect the controversial process.

Standing outside the Bob Rund Community Center in Pahrump, an early voting site in a town of 45,000 located at the base of a desert county that stretches for 170 miles along Nevada’s western flank, Kampf said he spent a sleepless night writing a proposal to revive the hand count. It was stopped because observers were hearing how people voted, which is illegal in Nevada before voting ends.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was working on my revised procedure,” he said on Friday, October 28. “The procedure was what I had conceived of before I even got into this office [in August], which was a silent process… They [Cegavske’s staff] might get it tomorrow.”

Inside the voting center on Friday afternoon, it was quiet. As a Democratic Party observer noted, there were more poll workers than voters. A Republican Party observer said there had been no trouble apart from one man trying to bring his gun inside (Nye is a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County.”) He was told to leave it in his car. Another man who voted in the morning tried to vote again. Poll workers recognized him and told him to leave. The Democratic observer asked about a voter who put their absentee ballot on top of a drop box – not in it.

These mostly calm scenes belie the political issues and stakes raised by Nye County’s rebellion in election administration. Led by Trump Republicans who control the Board of County Commissions, Nye County has broken with how the rest of Nevada is conducting the 2022 general election in two major ways.

First, until it was halted on October 27, Nye County was conducting a hand count of 2022 general election votes that also were being counted on state-approved voting system computers. The hand count was an effort to assess the accuracy of the computers. Second, county officials want most voters to cast a hand-marked paper ballot, not a computer-marked ballot on a state-approved system.

Across Nevada, most 2022 general election voters will cast a mailed-out ballot – which is a hand-marked paper ballot. In 2021, Nevada’s Democrat-led legislature adopted this way of voting after it was used during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state also offers in-person voting before and on Election Day. Almost all Nevada counties use touchscreen computers for their in-person voting. These systems use software to record votes, which Nye County’s commissioners no longer trust.

If Nye County executes its plans, it could foreshadow what elections may be like in states should 2020 election-deniers win on November 8.

Political Theatre

The hand count has received the most attention and is a reaction to the distrust of computer voting systems by ex-President Donald Trump and his loyal followers. Last March, Jim Marchant, who became Nevada’s 2022 Republican secretary of state nominee, and several 2020 conspiracy theorists made a presentation to the Nye County Board of County Commissioners as the first stop on a statewide tour urging the banning of voting machines and adoption of hand counts.

The GOP-majority commission was swayed. It started pressuring the longtime county clerk, Sandra Merlino, to move to an all-paper, hand-counted election. She opposed that plan and resigned a few months later after 28 years of service in county government. Kampf, a retired corporate executive who specialized in supply chain controls and audits for Fortune 500 companies, was appointed interim clerk. He is expected to be elected on November 8.

Outside the Bob Rund Community Center on Friday, neither Kampf nor Frank Carbone, a Republican county commissioner standing with him, would say what they distrusted about computer voting systems. Instead, they said that their constituency – the 69 percent of county voters who voted for Trump in 2020 – had concerns that must be addressed.

“The Board of County Commissioners made a decision. It said they wanted to go to paper ballots. And that’s what we did,” said Carbone. “It has nothing to do with disliking machines. It had nothing to do with any of that process. The people said this is what they wanted.’”

So, on Wednesday, October 26, six teams of five people – plus political party observers, reporters, and voting rights lawyers watching – started reading aloud every vote that had been cast on a batch of 50 general election ballots and began to manually tally the votes. In 2020’s presidential election, roughly 25,000 votes were cast in Nye County. By day’s end, the teams only got through 50 ballots, because, among other things, counting mistakes were made.

Lawyers from the state’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter noted that they could hear the results, and on Thursday filed an emergency motion saying the hand count violated state law banning the release of results before the close of voting on Election Day.

Hours later, Nevada’s Supreme Court and secretary of state ordered the hand count to immediately stop. The high court told Nye County – meaning Kampf – to work out a hand count procedure that the secretary of state could approve. Kampf stayed up most of Thursday night revising his plans.

Kampf said his revised plan would have three members of each hand-counting team eye every ballot without saying aloud how people voted. They would write down the votes cast. If discrepancies appeared, a recount process would ensue and be documented. Thus, instead of speedy computer tabulators, there would be volunteers parsing bundles of 25 ballots, one contest at a time.

What gets lost in the political drama surrounding these details is that the hand count –which Kampf and Carbone said is to inspire public trust – has become a public relations sideshow. Even though Nye County’s GOP leadership wanted the hand count to replace the state’s official vote-counting process, that preexisting lawful system– as Nevada’s Supreme Court noted – remains in place. The hand count will have no impact on the official tabulation of votes in 2022’s general election. At this point, the hand count is merely an unofficial recount that may take months.

All Hand-Marked Paper Ballots

The more significant ongoing development, at least from an election administration perspective, is what has escaped notice by local and national media. That development is what Nye County is doing to ensure that almost every ballot cast will be a hand-marked paper ballot, not a computer-marked ballot.

In 2021, Nevada joined the handful of states that are mailing every registered voter a paper ballot. But not every voter will vote by mail. Nevada allows voters to opt out from receiving a mailed-out ballot, an acknowledgment that some Republicans, like their ex-president, do not trust any ballot that was not cast in person and counted on Election Day. It was not hard to find such voters in Pahrump.

“I didn’t ask for one,” said Bill Becht, who was manning a booth for the GOP candidate for sheriff. “I received one and promptly threw it in the trash.”

Every Nevada county also will have in-person voting sites. There people can register and vote on the same day. Those who do not want to use a mailed-out ballot can vote. And people with disabilities can use a computer voting station. In most counties, including Nye County before the 2022 general election, the in-person voting was done on a touchscreen computer made by Dominion Voting Systems – the vendor demonized by Trump and his ardent followers, which is currently suing Fox News and other defendants in a billion-dollar defamation case.

Dominion’s computer system has voters selecting their candidates by touching a large rectangular screen. The computer, in turn, records the choices on a thumb drive locked inside. After voting ends, the drive is removed by poll workers and taken to county headquarters where its subtotals are compiled into the overall results on a central tabulating computer. Each touchscreen voting station also prints the votes on a paper roll that can be seen, but not accessed, by voters. Nye County is the only Nevada County this fall that will not use the touchscreens except when requested by an infirm voter or person with disabilities.

At Nye County’s three early voting sites, there is only one touchscreen voting station set up. In contrast, at the community center in Pahrump, there were 36 privacy booths on four rows of tables, where voters would fill out their paper ballot by hand using a pen. An overflow room had additional privacy booths.

Poll workers checking in voters gave out pre-printed paper ballots. (There are 13 different ballots across the county, which vary by local races.) When combined with paper ballots mailed out by the state, Nye County has found a way to replace almost entirely all of its computer ballots with hand-marked paper ballots.

As of noon on October 29, 6,097 mailed-out ballots had been received by the county, the clerk’s office said. An additional 1,125 pre-printed ballots had been given out and cast in person at the early voting sites. Only 53 voters used the computer voting station for people with disabilities. Together, those ballots represented a 17.7 percent voter turnout.

In general, hand-marked ballots are praised by experts because they are a direct record of a voter’s intent. Jennifer Morrell, a former election official now with the The Elections Group, a consulting firm that assists officials, said that using all hand-marked paper ballots in polling places with one ballot-marking device for people with disabilities was not uncommon. "I've seen it in many jurisdictions across the country that operate a precinct polling location model."

Both Kampf and officials in the county clerk’s office stressed that they were making sure that the number of legal voters and ballots issued each day was the same – to ensure that no illegal votes were cast. Election officials routinely check this aspect of elections to prevent fraudulent voting or to trace illegal voting.

More Paper Means Later Results

The shutdown of Nye County’s hand count has halted that aspect of its election administration rebellion. It remains to be seen whether Secretary of State Cegvaske will accept Kampf’s proposal to restart that process.

But Nye County’s use of hand-marked paper ballots may have other Election Day impacts. If there is a heavy turnout on Election Day, particularly near the close of voting, it is likely that the tasks associated with counting all of the paper ballots will delay the release of its preliminary results until Wednesday, November 9, or later. Such late reporting in 2020 was criticized by Trump as an indication of a corrupt election, although that claim was factually inaccurate.

But if Nevada’s statewide and federal elections come down to the wire, Nye County – whose southern tier is in a U.S. House district now held by a Democrat – could be among the last of Nevada’s counties to report.

That delay would be due to several factors. The clerk’s office, where its central tabulating computers are located, is in Tonopah. That office is where all of the paper ballots are scanned and counted. (The scanner makes a digital image of every side of every ballot. Software then correlates a voter’s ink marks with the ballot’s layout of candidates and ballot measures.)

Tonopah is 168 miles and two-and-one-half hours to the north of Pahrump – on a two-lane highway locals call the “highway of death” because the speed limit is 70, it is unlit at night, and wild horses and burros wander onto the road.

That distance will delay the counting of the last tier of ballots from Pahrump, the county’s population center. Additionally, if the state allows the hand count to resume, Kampf’s staff in Tonopah has to fill out additional chain-of-custody paperwork so the paper ballots can be returned to Pahrump in batches of 25 ballots for the hand count. This will add more time to counting ballots.

Nevada, like many states, has taken steps to speed up its reporting of results. It allows county offices to preprocess mailed-out ballots before Election Day. That means signatures and identifying information on return envelopes can be vetted and the ballots taken out and run through scanners. Those computers will not display their subtotals until voting closes on Election Day.

The paper ballots given out at in-person voting sites can be counted starting on Election Day, which, in Nye County, will help the Tonopah office to get ahead of the ballots that will arrive after voting ends.

But Trump Republicans who oppose any form of voting other than in-person voting on Election Day and who expect results on Election Night are likely to be frustrated. Trump has said anything outside this window cannot be trusted. So even if Nye County is a harbinger of what elections may look like if election-denying candidates win this fall, some aspects of elections won’t change. Producing accurate results, even or perhaps especially in Republican-run counties, takes time.

“It would be nice to have the results by midnight on election night, but it won’t happen that way this time,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, Nye County Democratic Party chair. “That’s another consequence of the Big Lie.”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Embracing Trump's Big Lie May Cost Murdoch Billions In Libel Lawsuits

Rupert Murdoch for years has enjoyed a Trump-like ability to avoid responsibility for the avalanche of lies he promotes. That all may be changing thanks to a pair of billion-dollar defamation lawsuits surrounding Trump’s Big Lie campaign — Murdoch appears powerless to stop the looming legal reckoning.

This week, Justice David Cohen of State Supreme Court in Manhattan issued a stinging rebuke of Fox News. Denying the network’s attempt to dismiss a $2.7 billion lawsuit filed by Smartmatic, the election technology company that Fox smeared as part of Trump’s Big Lie offensive following the 2020 campaign, Cohen waved off Murdoch’s attorneys.

“Even assuming that Fox News did not intentionally allow this false narrative to be broadcasted, there is a substantial basis for plaintiffs’ claim that, at a minimum, Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth,” Cohen wrote in his 61-page opinion. The judge repeatedly signaled that the lawsuit can proceed because there’s a reasonable chance that a jury would find Fox guilty of defamation.

The finding comes just three months after a judge in Delaware issued an identical ruling in another defamation lawsuit against Fox News, this one seeking $1.6 billion in damages. That one was brought by Dominion Voting Systems, which claimed Murdoch’s network smeared the election software company by casting it as a central villain in the GOP’s “rigged” charade.

“Fox possessed countervailing evidence of election fraud from the Department of Justice, election experts, and Dominion at the time it had been making its statements,” the judge wrote. “The fact that, despite this evidence, Fox continued to publish its allegations against Dominion, suggests Fox knew the allegations were probably false.”

For years, Fox News has gotten away with blatantly lying and slandering people, most often Democrats, and have paid almost no price for it. The reason Smartmatic and Dominion are having success in court is because they are businesses, not individuals, and they’re not “public figures.” If they were, it would be extremely difficult, under U.S. legal precedent, to prove they were defamed. They are both easily able to document how their brands have been damaged, and the amount of business they have lost, thanks to Fox smears.

What’s so damning for Murdoch’s legal team is that the facts of the recent Smartmatic case are not in dispute. That’s because Fox News defamed the company in plain view, repeatedly, on national television, alleging the company’s software switched California votes in the 2016 election, switched votes in Michigan in 2020, and did the same thing in overseas elections, among many wild and false allegations.

Because the facts are not in question, the best Murdoch’s lawyers could do in court was claim that the voting lies that aired almost nonstop did not constitute defamation because there’s no proof they were aired out of malice. Instead, Fox was just covering a big story and including lots of voices.

“When a sitting President and his surrogates claim an election was rigged, the public has a right to know what they are claiming, full stop,” Murdoch lawyers argued.

The judge rejected that defense, without reservation. “This Court finds that plaintiffs have pleaded facts sufficient to allow a jury to infer that Fox News acted with actual malice, since it conceivably had a “high degree of awareness of falsity” or “serious doubts as to the truth” of the statements made.” He added, “Since Fox News allowed allegedly defamatory statements about [Smartmatic] to be repeated on its network, a jury may therefore find that it acted with intent or reckless disregard of the truth.”

The Smartmatic lawsuit can now proceed to discovery, which means it’s likely Murdoch will try to settle, in part because Smartmatic wants access to emails from Murdoch to his top executives to confirm the likelihood they knew the “rigged” allegations were false.

In 2020, Fox News agreed to pay millions of dollars to the family of a murdered Democratic National Committee staff member, after the network had repeatedly hyped a false claim that the young staffer, Seth Rich, was involved in leaking D.N.C. emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Russian hacked the emails.)

The settlement came just before key hosts Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity were set to be deposed. Reaching an out-of-court agreement with Smartmatic will cost Murdoch a fortune considering the strength of the company’s case. Then double that with the Dominion lawsuit.

The irony is that in the days right after the 2020 election, Fox News initially resisted echoing Trump’s wild claims about a stolen election.

When Kayleigh McEnany held a White House press conference to double down on allegations of fraud, illegal voting, and a rigged election, Fox News host Neil Cavuto cut away from the event: “Whoa, whoa, whoa – I just think we have to be very clear. She’s charging the other side as welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this."

That right-wing void was quickly filled by players like NewsMax and OAN. The Trump sycophants rushed in and eagerly became the home of “rigged” propaganda. As their audience mushroomed, Fox took note. Refusing to let itself be outflanked on the fringe-right, the network embraced the Big Lie.

Now Murdoch’s going to pay a very high price.

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

A Year Later, Timeline Shows Trump Always Knew His Fraud Claim Was A 'Big Lie'

Over the past year, we have had to deal with Donald Trump shouting baseless claims that Joe Biden only denied him a second term because of massive fraud. He continues to promote the "Big Lies" despite his claims being debunked many times over in court, in Congress, in the press – and even by a three-month "audit" that his fervent supporters sponsored and conducted.

Believe it or not, Trump's attack on democracy is even worse than it seems. What's worse than repeatedly making "Four-Pinocchio" and "Pants on Fire" claims? Worse is repeating those allegations when you knew all along that they were false. And there is ample evidence in the published record that shows Trump was bleating and screeching about fraud when he knew full well that he had lost fairly and honestly.

This fundamental fact is important for several reasons. If you can put a firm date on the moment that Trump was well aware that he had lost, then every action taken to further those claims was in furtherance of an insurrection—one that began long before January 6. It means that we're no longer merely talking about the fine line between protected and unprotected speech. We're talking about seditious action.

If Trump always knew he had lost, then every one of those hair-on-fire emails urging people to donate to the effort to keep him in office was fraudulent. And if he knew he had lost when, for example, he tried to shake down Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, then it should be easier for Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fami Ellis to prove that effort was a racketeering offense. And if it can be proved that Trump's lawyers knew their arguments in court were false, it will be far easier to sanction them for doing so.

November 7, 2020: According to Axios, within hours of most major media outlets declaring Biden president-elect, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and deputy campaign manager Justin Clark tell Trump that his chances of staying in office are slim at best. He needs to win the outstanding absentee ballots in Arizona and Georgia by landslide margins, and also needs to win a legal challenge to Wisconsin's vote count. Clark tells Trump that even then, his chances were no better than five to ten percent. The Washington Post reports that Trump "signaled that he understood" the import of what Stepien and Clark were telling him.

November 10-13, 2020: Trump campaign lawyer Steffan Passantino tells The New York Times that the Trump legal team knew "within a week" of the election that there was no evidence Dominion Voting Systems-manufactured voting machines were switching votes in Georgia. Passantino tells the Times that his team conducted "a literal physical hand count" of all five million ballots cast in Georgia, and the votes "matched almost identically." Without Georgia, there was virtually no realistic path for Trump to stay in office.

November 12, 2020: Axios reports that when all remaining media outlets called Arizona for Biden, Trump's core campaign team told him that "his pathway is dead," since there was no politically viable path for Trump to win without Arizona. The Times reports that Trump's legal team was making plans to withdraw a legal challenge to Arizona's count because the 191 ballots they'd red flagged weren't even a fraction of Biden's 10,000-vote lead in the state. However, Trump was very receptive to Rudy Giuliani's claims that Dominion software was switching votes.

November 13, 2020: According to Axios, the Post and the Times, Giuliani suggests filing a lawsuit in Georgia alleging that the use of Dominion software allowed Biden to flip the state. Justin Clark replies that such a suit would be thrown out on procedural grounds, since Georgia hadn't certified its results yet. Giuliani calls Clark a liar, prompting Clark to call Giuliani "a fucking asshole." Trump sides with Giuliani, beginning what the Times calls "an extralegal campaign to subvert the election." On that same day, the Times reports that deputy campaign communications chief Sam Parkinson asked his legal team to "substantiate or debunk" claims percolating about Dominion in conservative circles.

November 14, 2020: On the same day Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis assume leadership of Trump's legal campaign to overturn the election results, Parkinson's team compiles a memo that thoroughly debunks the most outlandish claims about Dominion. Among other things, the memo states that there is no evidence Dominion and another voting systems maker, Smartmatic, presently have a relationship. Nor is there any evidence that Dominion has ties with George Soros, Venezuela, or antifa.

November 19, 2020: Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis hold a press conference alleging Dominion is at the center of a wide-ranging conspiracy to steal victory from Trump — repeating the same claims that were debunked by Trump's own communications team five days earlier. Later that night, Fox News' Tucker Carlson tears Powell to shreds for not offering any actual evidence of fraud. According to the Post, Trump is equally disappointed in Powell, and Carlson's takedown of Powell plays a major role in Trump's decision to cut formal ties with her.

Late November 2020: Axios reports that Trump is losing patience with Powell by this time. Before picking up a call from Powell in the Oval Office, Trump tells staffers that he thinks Powell is "crazy," and muses that "no one believes this stuff."

November 20,2020: Michigan state house speaker Lee Chatfield and state senate majority leader Mike Shirkey meet with Trump at the White House. According to Reuters, they tell Trump that they know of no information that would overturn Biden's 154,000-vote lead in Michigan. Chatfield and Shirkey tell the Post that they traveled to Washington in order to give Trump information that "he wasn't hearing in his own echo chamber," and they left believing that "his blinders had fallen off." In other words, it appeared to Chatfield and Shirkey that Trump knew he'd lost Michigan — and with it, any politically realistic path to reelection.

December 1, 2020: Attorney General Bill Barr, with the support of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, meets with Trump and dismisses Trump's claims of fraud as "bullshit" (per Axios) and "ridiculously false" (per the Times). When Barr pans the Trump legal team's performance, Trump concedes that "maybe" their arguments don't add up. According to the Times, before Barr even leaves the room, Trump tweets out a claim that a truck driver delivered thousands of pre-filled ballots to Pennsylvania—even though federal investigators had already concluded the driver had serious credibility problems.

December 14, 2020: Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller announces that the Trump campaign has organized alternate slates of electors in every battleground state won by Biden, ostensibly to keep Trump's legal options open. This includes Arizona, Georgia and Michigan—states that the Trump campaign likely knew for a month or more that it had lost.

December 18, 2020: According to Axios, Powell barrels into the White House along with Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne to meet with Trump and peddle more claims that the election was stolen -- even though White House advisers who tried to vet these allegations found they didn't withstand serious analysis. At this meeting, Powell is grilled by White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann and staff secretary Derek Lyons, who note that Powell has repeatedly failed to deliver on promises to back up her arguments. Trump himself expresses doubt about Powell and Byrne's claims, but notes that unlike Herschmann and Lyons, they were at least offering him a shot at winning. As we now know, h

January 2, 2020: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's general counsel tells Trump during the now-infamous shakedown attempt that both the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have been unable to find any evidence to back up Trump's claims of fraud. However, Trump keeps pressing Raffensperger to "do me a favor."

In short:

  • Trump knew as early as November 7 that he was shooting his last legal bolt to stay in office, and likely knew as early as November 12 that bolt had missed.
  • Trump knew at various points in November that he had lost at least three states that he needed to hold if he had any hope of winning a second term.
  • Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis' press conference aired arguments that the Trump campaign had known were baseless for at least five days.
  • Trump promoted baseless claims even after being told categorically by his own aides that they were false.
  • Trump himself expressed doubt about Sidney Powell's conspiratorial assertions, but had no qualms about using them to support his claims about fraud.

Giuliani Deposition Reveals Damning Admission About Trump’s Election Case

Former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani is in the hot seat after insisting he "didn't have the time" to investigate election fraud claims pertaining to his client and friend Donald J. Trump before making baseless public statements.

In a new video obtained by CNN, the 77-year-old further deflected his involvement with election interference, saying that "sometimes I go and look myself when stuff comes up. This time I didn't have the time to do it."

He added, "It's not my job, in a fast-moving case, to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that was given to me. Otherwise, you're never going to write a story. You'll never come to a conclusion."

The video is from Giuliani's deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by former Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer.

Giuliani continued in the damning deposition, "We had a report that the heads of Dominion and Smartmatic, somewhere in the mid-tweens, you know 2013, 2014, whatever, went down to Venezuela for a get-to-know meeting with [President Nicolás] Maduro so they could demonstrate to Maduro the kind of vote fixing they did for [former President Hugo] Chavez."

According to court records reviewed by CNN last month, Giuliani spent less than an hour reviewing allegations that Coomer was part of a plot to rig the election before publicly making those claims at a November news conference.

"Rudy's justification for spreading sputum is that everybody does it," CNN anchor Chris Cuomo shared on his show Thursday night. "So what we have here is a battle to the bottom. What does that mean for where we're all headed?"

Watch the video below.

Giuliani Admits 'Evidence' Of 2020 Vote Fraud Came From Facebook Posts

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump's embattled former personal attorney, has admitted under oath that his so-called evidence of voter fraud was based on Facebook posts, reports confirm.

According to Business Insider, Giuliani's remarks were part of a deposition that he completed on August 14 as part of a defamation lawsuit filed by Eric Coomer, a former Dominion Voting Systems employee.

Coomer filed his lawsuit against the Trump campaign and other allies of the former president for circulating unfounded voter fraud conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. One theory even accused him of conspiring to "rig" the election in President Joe Biden's favor.

The deposition included a statement where Giuliani "admitted that he got some of his information about Coomer's alleged role in the election fraud from his social media posts but couldn't be sure if it was Facebook or another platform."

"Those social media posts get all one to me," Giuliani said.

When asked if he'd personally seen any other information connecting Coomer to fraud, Giuliani said, "Right now, I can't recall anything else that I laid eyes on."

The New York Times reported that the conspiracy theory about Coomer originated from baseless claims made by a right-wing podcast host named Joe Oltmann. He claimed to have listened in on an Antifa conference call where Coomer's name was mentioned. During that discussion, "Eric from Dominion" reportedly boasted about interfering with the election. Oltmann then claimed Coomer's Facebook page included anti-Trump messages; a claim that tied into his alleged efforts to rig the election.

Although Oltmann provided no evidence to support his claim, Trump's legal team ran with it. On November 19, they held a press conference and offered details about the basis of their legal pushback which was motivated by Otlmann's baseless claims.

"One of the Smartmatic patent holders, Eric Coomer, I believe his name is, is on the web as being recorded in a conversation with ANTIFA members saying that he had the election rigged for Mr. Biden," Giuliani said.

However, Coomer's lawyers argue that Giuliani "spent 'virtually no time' investigating the claims."

When asked why he regurgitated the claims without conducting proper research, Giuliani simply said he was too busy.

"It's not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that's given to me," Giuliani said in the deposition, according to MSNBC.

Giuliani also made a futile attempt to defend his actions saying, "Why wouldn't I believe him? I would have to have been a terrible lawyer… gee, let's go find out it's untrue. I didn't have the time to do that."

Trumpist Official In Colorado Suspected Of Voting Machine Malfeasance

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Republican operatives are spending their time in the minority ginning up more confusion and bogus anti-democracy conspiracy. The GOP in Arizona are running an excruciatingly incoherent and at times farcical recount of ballots. While it has been called an audit by the people creating theatrics around it, most experts see it as something more akin to dangerous experimental theater. The danger is what it represents to our democracy.

The Grand Junction Sentinel reports there's finally been a break in the Kraken case investigation into a Colorado election system "breach!" Guess what? "Secretary of State Jena Griswold released an order at 10:15 a.m. today calling on Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters to supply surveillance videos and documents showing how the breach occurred, and how security information ended up on a social media post."

According to The Bulwark's Tim Miller—a former communications director for Jeb Bush 2016 (a campaign not known for its socialism)—Peters is a "fervent supporter of Donald Trump and amateur vaccine science aficionado." Miller reports that The Gateway Pundit posted video and screenshot proof that Dominion has remote access to voting machines. The whistleblower who provided this evidence reportedly appears in this "explosive" evidence that Hugo Chavez (or some kind of socialist spider monkey) could have accessed and overturned millions of votes in favor of Joe Biden.

The grainy, shaky video presented a conversation between an election official and a Dominion employee, in which the election official asks a series of leading questions in order to demonstrate how, with the help of someone on the inside, the machine could hypothetically be tampered with over the internet using the BIOS motherboard settings.

Unfortunately, they also left a trace of what they were doing, which actually is a security breach of our election systems.

When the official shared this "bombshell" video with CodeMonkey Watkins they included in it an image of their election system's BIOS password, which is, of course, a massive breach of voting system security.

Peters is not specifically on the hook for this breach of security, but she is the head of the office where the breach took place. According to Miller, the information posted in those screenshots and video was only accessible by a very select group of people "who have passed background checks."

Griswold told the Sentinel: "We have these security protocols in place for a reason. This is a very serious breach in chain-of-custody and security protocols. That's why I will be issuing this order and investigating. On top of that, "If the Mesa County clerk cannot show proof in the chain of custody or if the voting equipment after inspection, if there is anything that comes to our attention, the voting equipment will be de-certified." Decertification of those election machines would force the county to pay up for refitting of all their machines. Trump and MAGA hit the taxpayers again!

Previously, Peters made headlines as an election official promoting the Stop the Steal conspiracy theories leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Back on January 5, the Sentinel reported on a tweet (since taken down) by Peters attacking Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer: "Shame on you! As one that administers elections in my county, you apparently have no idea how it is possible to 1) tabulate more than once ballots favoring a candidate 2) change algorithm in a voting machine (see Eric Coomer from Dominion's Facebook ranks) UR Dirty or ignorant."

Colorado Pols has some more tweets that Peters has since deleted:

  • On Dec. 13, 2020: "Also, the vaccines are troubling in the mechanics in the RNA. I don't want anyone messing with my RNA, my DNA or anything else – MY BODY, my right!"
  • On Jan. 3, 2021: "Their intent is not to "overturn" the election. This was not an election. This was planned fraud on a grand scale. If you refuse to acknowledge that you WILL NOT be re-elected. We need others in your place that uphold the Constitution and preserve our Republic."

While there is an ever-increasing mountain of evidence showing that Donald Trump—along with his fascistic cult of minions, administration officials, and Republican Party officials—attempted to pull off a coup d'etat, the MAGA-minded amongst us continue to believe whatever it is they tell themselves they believe. If we believe in our Constitution as a foundational document laying out the basic legal principals of our democracy, we must hold accountable those who evidence and reality tell us must be held accountable for these crimes.

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021 · 2:45:50 PM EDT · Walter Einenkel

Peters emailed a statement to the Denver Post:

Saying that citizens of Mesa County have voiced concerns over the election: "I have told them I will do everything in my power to protect their vote. I will share more information once the investigation has concluded."

Dominion Serves Newsmax, OAN, And Ex-Overstock CEO With Billion Dollar Lawsuits

Dominion Voting Systems dished out more billion dollar lawsuits on Tuesday-- filing defamation complaints against cable channels Newsmax and One America News (OAN), as well as former CEO of Overstock.com Patrick Byrne for allegedly lying about the company's role in the 2020 election.

"The defendants in today's filings recklessly disregarded the truth when they spread lies in November and continue to do so today," said Dominion CEO John Poulos. "We are filing these three cases today because the defendants named show no remorse, nor any sign they intend to stop spreading disinformation. This barrage of lies by the Defendants and others have caused—and continue to cause—severe damage to our company, customers, and employees. We have no choice but to seek to hold those responsible to account."

The Newsmax lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of Delaware, accused the channel of "creat[ing] an entire brand out of defaming."

In the OAN' lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia, Dominion charged that "facts did not matter" to the network. Instead, "what mattered was feeding the audience the alternate reality OAN had helped create and its audience now expected — even if it was spreading false information."

Byrne, a staunch Trump ally, "continues to stick to his manufactured, inherently improbable, profitable, and demonstrable lies," according to the complaint filed against him. Dominion legal counsel Stephen Shackelford added that Byrne "is responsible for bankrolling and promoting a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion that reached millions of people worldwide."

In response, Newsmax defended its coverage of the 2020 election.

"Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors, and members of Congress -- Dominion's action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press," a Newsmax spokesperson said in a statement.

But as ABC News notes, Newsmax has retracted some of its 2020 election reporting, much of which bolstered Trump's Big Lie, after the right-wing news channel reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought by a Dominion employee.

Byrne took a much more aggressive approach, saying through a spokesperson, "Between the imminent release of the Maricopa Audit, and Mike Lindell's current activities in South Dakota, Dominion Voting is about to have a very difficult week. They are simply doing this as a distraction."

OAN has yet to offer a public response to the Dominion lawsuit.

Since far-right Republicans made it their mission to spread baseless lies about the 2020 election, Dominion and other voting system companies have filed multiple defamation lawsuits against the biggest perpetrators.

Back in March, Fox News -- the largest conservative news channel --- was served a similar $1.6 billion lawsuit by Dominion. This followed a $2.7 billion Smartmatic USA defamation suit against the Murdoch outfit.

Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell have also felt Dominion's wrath in the wake of their deranged attempt to overturn the free and fair 2020 election.

"OAN, Newsmax, and Patrick Byrne have knowingly and continuously sold the false story of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election, with Dominion cast as the villain, severely injuring Dominion in the process," said Shackelford, adding, "We are suing to set the record straight, to vindicate Dominion's rights, to hold the Defendants accountable, and to recover damages for the devastating economic harm done to Dominion's business."

Maricopa Republicans Defy State Senate’s Latest Audit Demands

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has had enough with the Republican-led audit of Arizona's 2020 election results.

On Monday, he slammed the effort as an "adventure in never-never land" as he refused to comply with a subpoena for more records.

"It is now August of 2021. The election of November 2020 is over. If you haven't figured out that the election in Maricopa County was free, fair, and accurate yet, I'm not sure you ever will," Jack Sellers, a Republican and the chair of the Maricopa County Supervisors, wrote to Republican state senators.

The audit, which kicked off in April, has been panned as disorganized and chaotic, and election experts and public officials alike have expressed concern that it has not adhered to election law or procedures.

Still, last week, Republicans on the Arizona state Senate subpoenaed even more records as part of the audit.

But Sellers has defied the request, writing in a letter that, "The Board has real work to do and little time to entertain this adventure in never-never land."

"Please finish whatever it is that you are doing and release whatever it is you are going to release," he added. "I am confident that our staff and volunteers ran the election as prescribed by federal and state law. There was no fraud, there wasn't an injection of ballots from Asia nor was there a satellite that beamed votes into our election equipment."

Among the subpoenas was a call for testimony from a Dominion Voting Systems representative. The election technology company was also asked by GOP state senators to provide "all user names, passwords, pins and/or security keys or tokens required to access, or otherwise relating to any and all ballot tabulation devices."

Dominion's attorney argued that the request was a violation of the company's constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

The audit has been dragging on for months, far longer than the 60 days it was initially slated to take. And it's been plagued by reports of incompetence and mismanagement — so much so that the U.S. Department of Justice has warned that the entire endeavor may have run afoul of federal election law.

Congress' House Oversight Committee is now investigating whether the audit is legitimate or merely "an effort to promote baseless conspiracy theories."

The audit was launched in the wake of false ex-President Donald Trump's lie that the election was stolen. It's being run by Cyber Ninjas, a firm owned by a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist, who was part of the effort to try to overturn Trump's loss with lies of voter fraud.

Doug Logan, the president of Cyber Ninjas, has even appeared in a movie promoting the audit, which was filled with baseless lies and conspiracy theories.

Even some GOP lawmakers in the state have condemned the effort — despite some initially supporting it. As far back as May, one Republican state senator who at first backed the audit said the effort made them "look like idiots."

Republican state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has pushed for voter suppression legislation, denounced the audit last week.

"I wanted to review our election processes and see what, if anything, could be improved," she tweeted on July 24. "Sadly, it's now become clear that the audit has been botched."

It's unclear when Cyber Ninjas will release a report from the review. To date, the counting process has been completed and the ballots and equipment — including millions of dollars worth of voting equipment that will now be scrapped due to the audit's lack of security — have been returned to Maricopa County.

Sellers urged the GOP state Senate to hurry up and release the report.

"It's time for all elected officials to tell the truth and stop encouraging conspiracies," Sellers wrote in his letter. "Please release your report and be prepared to defend any accusations of misdeeds in court. It's time to move on."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.