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Tag: trump election lies

Scorning Democracy, Trump Demands Lake Be 'Installed' As Arizona Governor

Former President Trump, the loser of the 2020 presidential election, has demanded that the loser of Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial election, Kari Lake, be crowned governor of the Grand Canyon State after falsely blaming her defeat on “yet another criminal voting operation.”

"Massive numbers of 'BROKEN' voting machines in Republican Districts on Election Day. Mechanics sent in to 'FIX' them made them worse,” Trump claimed without evidence on his disinformation platform, Truth Social.

“Kari had to be taken to a Democrat area, which was working perfectly, to vote. Her opponent ran the Election. This is yet another criminal voting operation - SO OBVIOUS. Kari Lake should be installed Governor of Arizona. This is almost as bad as the 2020 Presidential Election, which the Unselect Committee refuses to touch because they know it was Fraudulent!"

Trump’s hoax-filled diatribe was a response to Lake’s tirade on Truth Social, blaming “incompetent” election officials and “Fake News” for “Arizonians hav[ing] no Faith and Trust in our Elections.”

Despite trailing her Democratic opponent by about 17,000 votes, with 99 percent of the ballots in Arizona reported, Lake, a 2020 election denier who committed to accepting the election only if she won, has refused to concede to Governor-elect Katie Hobbs more than two weeks after the race was called.

Last week, Lake lashed out at Arizona’s departing Republican governor, Doug Ducey, for christening the election a “democratic process,” congratulating Hobbs on her victory, and promising an orderly transition from his administration to hers.

"This is just beyond 2020. I mean what they did in 2020, looks like they did it again, and then some. And for the Governor (@DougDucey), if he says he's going to certify this, and @KatieHobbs to certify this, I think they really better think long and hard," Lake tweeted, alluding to the Big Lie — the false claim that a state-wide voter fraud operation, orchestrated by Democrats, had cost Trump the 2020 elections.

Amid the flood of false election fraud claims promoted by Lake and Trump, the firebrand sued the election administrators she had repeatedly assailed -- Maricopa County’s Republican election officials -- alleging electoral wrongdoing in what she branded “the shoddiest election ever.”

The lawsuit — which Lake announced last Wednesday on “War Room,” indicted Trump ally Steve Bannon’s podcast — demanded the Maricopa County Superior Court compel the county’s election officials to provide Lake’s campaign with various public records, including the number of ballots sent to voters overseas and their verification process.

Citing Maricopa County’s "printer/tabulation problem[s]” — an Election Day malfunction with some printers across the county, which election technicians identified and fixed in a few hours — Lake’s suit is also demanding contact information of voters at polling sites with printer malfunctions and the number of spoiled Election Day ballots.

In a scathing report issued Sunday, Maricopa County rebuffed the false claims of election malpractice and blamed Republican politicians for casting doubt on a secure alternative the county made available for voters inconvenienced by the voting glitches.

A “root cause analysis” of the now-infamous printer issues, which prevented some tabulators from taking ballots on Election Day, was underway; however, all printers “had updated firmware, were installed with uniform settings, and used the same settings that were used in prior elections” the county noted in its report.

Despite providing a “legal, secure, and reliable” voting alternative for people whose ballots tabulators could not read — a secure dropbox option called “Door 3” — “many high-profile and influential individuals instructed voters to not deposit their ballots in Door 3,” Maricopa County wrote in its report.

Tom Liddy, the Republican head of Maricopa County’s civil division, noted that eight other counties utilized only secure drop boxes, whose contents would be tallied at a centralized location, because “[the counties] lacked any tabulators in their polling locations at all.”

The county’s Republican-controlled board unanimously voted to certify its 2022 election results even as the lifelong Republican chairman of the county’s board of supervisors, Bill Gates, was relocated to an undisclosed location for safety after several threats to his safety appeared in far-right Internet spaces.

However, several counties hesitated in approving their election canvass ahead of Monday's state deadline stipulated by law, and several attorneys warned Republican county election supervisors of criminal charges if they ignored their obligation to certiify, according to the Associated Press.

One such jurisdiction, Mohave County, reluctantly certified its election on Monday, with its election-denying board of supervisors chairman, Ron Gould, attributing the delay to “a question” he had about “how our election is run.”

But rural Cochise County, another deep-red stronghold, delayed its certification vote until Friday, despite having no election hiccups, buying time to hear more about the far right’s “concerns over the certification of ballot tabulators,” Jonathan Cooper of the Press reported Tuesday.

Those concerns were pitched to the county’s elections board by a trio of conspiracy theorists — Tom Rice, Brian Steiner, and Daniel Wood — all of whom participated in at least four Arizona Supreme Court cases challenging the results of the 2020 elections, according to the Washington Post.

Hobbs sued Cochise County on Monday, asking the court to compel the county to comply with Arizona law, which demands county elections be certified by November 28.

Barring the court’s intervention, Hobbs spokesperson Sophia Solis said, the secretary of state would “have no choice” but to complete a statutory certification of the state-wide canvass without Cochise County’s votes by December 8.

Ironically, Cochise County's failure to certify could flip the results of two races, including a U.S. House seat, from Republican to Democrat, the Press noted, pruning the GOP’s meager House majority even further.

Facing Certification Deadline, Arizona Election Deniers Refuse To Admit Defeat

By Ned Parker

As Arizona counties face a Monday deadline to certify their midterm election results, Republican candidates and activists promoting false theories of voter fraud are refusing to back down.

State Senator-elect Jake Hoffman, head of Arizona’s Freedom Caucus, a group of largely pro-Trump Republican state lawmakers, told Reuters he will lead an investigation into the state’s election when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Right-wing activist Steve Bannon, a former Trump administration official and promoter of election conspiracy theories, said voting machine mishaps on the November 8, Election Day, tainted Democrat Katie Hobbs’ victory over Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor who has refused to concede.

Hobbs “will never be considered legitimate,” said Bannon, who has been providing Lake counsel. "That's going to cripple her ability to govern. So that's why this is a crisis. There's a crisis for the entire state.”

Lake, a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, was one of dozens of Republican candidates who questioned or denied the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and lost in the midterms.

The defeat of Lake and other election deniers was seen as a powerful rebuke of candidates who echoed Trump’s myths of a stolen election.

Lake, however, has remained defiant after her 17,116-vote loss.

“We know we WON this election and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that every single Arizonan’s vote that was disenfranchised is counted,” Lake said in an interview posted on her Twitter account on Saturday.

Lake’s team filed a lawsuit in state court on Wednesday against the Republican government of Maricopa County, demanding information on voters whose ballots were affected by voting machine problems. Her Republican colleague, Abe Hamadeh, who ran for attorney general and lost by 510 votes, has filed a lawsuit against his Democratic opponent as well as state and local officials, seeking to overturn his defeat.

In Maricopa County, tabulators at 71 of 223 polling stations were unable to read ballots because of printer ink problems on Election Day.

County officials said the issue was quickly addressed. Affected voters could deposit ballots in a secure on-site container called “box three” or wait for another ballot or travel to another polling center.

Republican activists urged voters not to use the secure box on Election Day, according to Maricopa County officials. Some activists expressed concerns on social media that ballots placed in secure boxes would not be counted.

“It certainly was not helpful as far as we were concerned because it was contradicting the official elections department information that we were trying to get out to voters in real time,” said Maricopa County spokesman Jason Berry.

Rejecting the secure boxes backfired, said David Becker, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research. “If they followed instructions, there would've been no lines. There would've been no delays. They would've moved through the process very, very effectively.”

Becker, who consults for Republican and Democrat election officials around the country, said Maricopa’s technical problems were not unusual and occur in every election at hundreds of polling centers nationally.

Maricopa officials, who are Republicans, have said that an estimated 17,000 voters were impacted by the problem with the printer ink.

Maricopa County on Sunday released a report detailing voter numbers by location on Election Day and was scheduled to certify election results on Monday.

DELAYS IN CERTIFICATION

Elsewhere in Arizona, two conservative counties, Mohave and Cochise, do not plan to certify election results until Monday, the final day to formally do so, following pressure by election deniers.

The chairman of Mohave County’s Board of Supervisors, Ron Gould, told Reuters that his county delayed certifying last Monday because his board was waiting to see Maricopa’s explanations for what happened to the ballots of its affected voters.

In Cochise County, the three-person board postponed its certification after hearing testimony on November 18 from three election conspiracy theorists who argued that the county’s voting machines were not properly certified.

The Secretary of State’s office said the matter was due to a clerical error and sent a letter to the board last Tuesday that included documentation of the machines’ licenses.

But in an email to Reuters, Cochise County Supervisor Tom Crosby declined to say whether the board will certify the county’s results on Monday.

(Editing by Jason Szep and Linda So)

Lake Won't Concede, But Ducey Welcomes Hobbs As His Successor In Arizona

The lame-duck Republican governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, congratulated Democratic Governor-elect Katie Hobbs on her victory more than a week after major networks called the race for her.

Ducey met Hobbs in his office and — in his first public statement on the outcome of Arizona’s highly-charged gubernatorial race — promised her the full support of his administration in ensuring an orderly transition to her.

“Today I congratulated Governor-elect Katie Hobbs on her victory in a hard-fought race and offered my full cooperation as she prepares to assume the leadership of the State of Arizona,” Ducey tweeted on Wednesday.

Unintimidated by the election-denying ravings of the Trump-backed Republican candidate, Kari Lake, who has yet to concede in what she called a “botched election,” Ducey said in a statement that the result of the gubernatorial race reflected the will of Arizonans, peacefully communicated via a “democratic process.”

“All of us have waited patiently for the democratic process to play out,” he said. “The people of Arizona have spoken, their votes have been counted and we respect their decision.”

“My administration will work to make this transition as smooth and seamless as possible,” Ducey added. “Our duty is to ensure that Arizona’s 24th Governor and her team can hit the ground running and continue our state’s incredible momentum.”

Despite trailing Hobbs by about 17,000 votes, a margin above the automatic recount threshold, Lake has rebuffed the notion of concession and, in the past week, repeated baseless allegations of election fraud without any evidence.

On Election Day, Lake, a rising star in the GOP's MAGA sphere, cited reports of basic printer malfunctions in Maricopa County, the most populous jurisdiction in Arizona, as evidence of electoral daylight robbery perpetrated by Democrats in an election run by Republicans.

"They did it in broad daylight. It was blatant. There was no subtlety to what they did when they discriminated against people who chose to vote on Election Day,” Lake told indicted Trump ally Steve Bannon.

"This is just beyond 2020. I mean what they did in 2020, looks like they did it again, and then some. And for the Governor (@DougDucey), if he says he's going to certify this, and @KatieHobbs to certify this, I think they really better think long and hard," she added.

In July Ducey, the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, blasted Lake — who in the run-up to the midterms declined to say whether she would concede if she lost — for predicting without evidence that the 2022 elections would be stolen.

“Kari Lake is misleading voters with no evidence. She’s been tagged by her opponents with a nickname, Fake Lake, which seems to be sticking and actually doing some damage,” Ducey snapped on CNN’s State of the Union.

Ducey’s aversion to false voter fraud allegations made headlines when he sank Trump’s 2020 subversion efforts in fury-ridden depths by silencing a phone call from the election denier-in-chief while signing documents certifying Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the state.

“Fake Lake,” who built her brand on Trump's Big Lie, filed a lawsuit via her political action committee, Kari Lake for Arizona, "to compel the prompt production of public records pursuant to the Arizona Public Records Act,” according to her court filing.

Lake’s attorney Timothy La Sota alleged in the legal brief that the issue with some printers in Maricopa County, which officials identified and fixed a few hours later, angered some Republican voters into leaving without casting their votes.

Like Trump’s failed 2020 “Kraken” lawsuits, Lake’s action relies on statements from voters for the laundry list of demands the Republican is asking of Maricopa County Superior Court, including the contact information of voters alleging they witnessed printer malfunction, the number of overseas ballots cast by military members, and how they were verified.

“In the absence of an immediate and comprehensive production of the requested public records, [Kari Lake] cannot ascertain the full extent of the problems identified and their impacts on electors,” La Sota wrote.

Lake’s filing followed another lawsuit filed by the Republican candidate for attorney general of Arizona, Abe Hamadeh, and the Republican National Committee against Maricopa County’s Republican election officials, alleging “certain errors and inaccuracies” in the management of some polling places and tabulation of some ballots.

Trailing his Democratic opponent, Kris Mayes, by 510 votes in a race set to go to a recount, Hamadeh said his lawsuit was the only means by which to restore voter confidence in Arizona’s “broken election system.”

Meanwhile Lake has continued to attack the election, tweeting on Wednesday night an image that said, “The cover-up is always worse than the crime.”


Trump Gang Scrambling To File Suit Denying Kari Lake's Arizona Defeat

Diehard Trump Republicans inside and outside of Arizona who cannot fathom that Kari Lake is projected to lose Arizona’s 2022 governor’s race are frantically trying to assemble a lawsuit to block the certification of the victory by Katie Hobbs, a Democrat and Arizona’s current secretary of state.

“We need 3-5 Attorneys. Please call any you think might be interested and see if they are willing to support the cause without the retainers,” said the top item on a Tuesday email sent by the Gila County Election Integrity Team. “The suit will be prepared by experienced legal writers.”

“We need to reach and recruit voters or candidates in other counties to become plaintiffs and get them up to speed,” it continued. “Who can help? Please shake the trees.”

On Monday night, national media called the race for Hobbs, who won 50.4 percent — or 1,266,922 votes — compared to Lake’s 49.6 percent — 1,247,428 votes. Those results, based on counting 98 percent of the votes, is a bigger than the 0.5 percent margin in Arizona law that would trigger a recount.

“Arizonans know BS when they see it,” Lake texted on Monday evening.

Lake, a former Fox News broadcaster in Phoenix whose political rise was based on viewers’ familiarity with her and Lake’s mimicry of Trump’s stances, led by claims that his re-election bid was stolen, publicly had been criticizing the counting process in Maricopa County, its most populous county.

Officials in Maricopa County, which is run by non-Trump Republicans who spent much of 2021 fending off election conspiracy accusations, replied that Lake did not understand how election are run and were offensive – given that hundreds of thousands of mailed-out ballots had been returned on Election Day and election workers had been putting in 18-hour days to count votes.

Before Monday’s media projection of her loss, Lake had been telling nationally known 2020 election deniers – such as True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht – that she planned to fight any outcome but a gubernatorial victory.

In her podcast last Friday, Engelbrecht said that she had spoken to Lake and was inspired by Lake’s determination to keep fighting – unlike other Trump-endorsed candidates in Arizona who had conceded.

“It’s one of the reasons we came to Arizona because Kari Lake is not quitting in the face of such uncertainty,” said Engelbrecht, who, with Gregg Phillips, a fellow conspiracy theorist at True the Vote, had been jailed for contempt of court on Halloween in an unrelated defamation case where they had accused an election vendor of giving China access to voter data.

“Tuesday’s election… didn’t go quite like many felt that it would,” Engelbrecht said. “But I submit to you it was sort of the same song, second verse. The things that go wrong on Election Day, and went wrong in 2020, went wrong in 2022. Like [voting] machines going out, not enough paper [ballots], bad chain of custody [of ballots], the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, elections taking far too long to resolve… what we want to avoid is becoming the new normal.”

Phillips said that he and Engelbrecht, who voter fraud fabrications were featured in the misinformation-laced film about the 2020 presidential election by Dinesh D’Souza, 2000 Mules, said the goal was stopping Maricopa County’s certification of the victories by Hobbs and other Democrats in top statewide races. (Phillips, Engelbrecht, and D’Souza have been sued for defamation by voters who were falsely accused onscreen of illegally casting absentee ballots.)

“Our view of it is that you always have to stop the certification,” Phillips said. “Once the certification happens, pretty much the cat’s out of the bag; it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle and everything goes wrong. But we have really learned some interesting things here because of this delay [in counting].”

Phillips said the county’s use of an Arizona-based ballot printing and election technology, Runbeck Election Services, to pre-process mailed out ballots – to vet the authenticity of voters’ signatures on the ballot return envelopes – opened up several avenues to argue that Maricopa County did not follow state law.

“We can now define them inside certain large buckets,” he said. “Like chain of custody issues [transporting ballots securely, and] issues that they have in compliance with the law relative to signature verification.”

On Monday’s edition of the J.D. Rucker Show on Rumble.com, a pro-Trump online platform, New Jersey attorney Leo Donofrio outlined another line of legal attack. He focused on the response by Maricopa County to the intermittent breakdown of ballot printers in 30 percent of its 223 voting centers on Election Day.

Bill Gates, the Republican lawyer who chairs Maricopa County's board of supervisors, told voters that they could put their ballots in a secure box at the vote centers to be counted later, or they could go to another vote center.

That advice was no guarantee that these ballots had been counted, Donofrio said, and it put voters at risk for voting twice, which exposed them to criminal charges.

“There is no function [in voting systems] for a voter to check out of a polling location once they have checked in… That is a complete fiction,” he said. “It’s like [the 1977 song] Hotel California, J.D., ‘You can check in, but you can never leave.’”

The “Gila County Election Integrity Team” said they would be meeting on Wednesday and communicating via a group chat on Telegram, another social media site. It urged insiders to reach out to Andy Gould, a state appeals county judge, “to seek behind the scenes support,” and Mick McGuire, a retired general who ran unsuccessfully for the 2022 GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, to see “if he can help also with statewide supporters who would be plaintiffs, or perhaps he would, [as] he is high profile and well liked.”

Throughout the vote counting process and Lake’s attacks on election officials, Hobbs rejected the charges and urged Arizona to be patient.

“Despite what my election-denying opponent is trying to spin, the pattern and cadence of incoming votes are exactly what we expected,” Hobbs said Friday. “In fact, they mirror what [political trends] our state has seen in recent elections. We must remain patient and let our election officials do their jobs.”

Mortified Mitch And Cowering Kevin, GOP 'Leaders,' Are Paralyzed By Trump

The day after the victory in Nevada by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, securing the Senate for Democrats, is one of those days you don’t even have to read the stories. The headlines spewing the panic on the Right are more than enough:

The Washington Post: “Republican rivals start plotting a post-Trump future -- The GOP’s disappointing midterm results spur some donors and party leaders to consider other 2024 candidates.”

The Washington Post: Election deniers lose races for key state offices in every 2020 battleground -- The candidates could have gained power over election administration. Voters rejected them in the six most pivotal states.

The New York Times: Trump Angst Grips Republicans (Again) as 2024 Announcement Looms -- While Republicans pick up the pieces from the midterm elections, former President Donald J. Trump is already forcing them to take sides in the next election.

The Washington Post: In election 2022, the party of Trump pays for being the party of Trump

The Washington Post: Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle -- Private consternation reached a public boiling point Friday as lawmakers in both chambers confronted the fallout from Tuesday’s elections

The Washington Post: Democrats surged to flip state legislatures, defying past GOP gains

If you’re a Republican “leader,” as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pretend to be, you have to be looking at the headlines and asking yourself what the fuck happened, don’t you? Well, you would if you were a sane person occupying a leadership position in an actual political party. The situation for Kev and Mitch, however, is somewhat different. If they open their traps and a natural reaction comes out, something along the lines of “Oh, my God!”, it will be read by the MAGA faithful as a betrayal of the real leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump. If they even twitch in the direction of criticizing the Great One, they’ll be politically drawn and quartered within the hour.

Quite a dilemma for the boys, huh? Well, just as a reminder, their party has been here before – specifically, when Richard Nixon was clinging to the White House by his fingernails after the Judiciary Committee had voted on three articles of impeachment and plans were being made to schedule a vote in the House and a trial in the Senate way back in 1974. Republican Senators Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater, accompanied by Minority Leader Jacob Rhodes, got in a car and drove from the Capitol to the White House and met with Nixon and told him his support in both the House and Senate was thin and he would not survive an impeachment and trial. Nixon resigned as president the next day.

I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck that ol’ Mitch is ruing the day he didn’t rally his Republican troops and push through a conviction of Trump at his second impeachment trial in the Senate in February of last year. The Constitution’s ban on running again for president would have parked Trump permanently on the sidelines of American politics and left an open field to Republicans in the midterms this year. Instead, Trump hung like a black cloud over the elections in the House and the Senate, not to mention down in the state houses the Republicans lost. So many of Trump’s hand-picked candidates lost, they practically threw a coronation when the odious J.D. Vance was able to win Ohio's Senate race.

The option of getting some Republican billionaire to loan them a plane to fly down to Palm Beach for a sit-down with The Man Himself is still open to Tremblin’ Mitch and Shiverin’ Kev. The chances of either one of them overcoming the shakes long enough to Do What Must Be Done for the Republican Party, however, are either close to zero or zero itself, their fear of Trump’s MAGA masses is so great.

It's amazing, isn’t it, to watch an entire political party full of professional politicians be aware of what must be done to save themselves and their party from a crushing defeat across the board in Washington and further erosion of their grip on legislatures down in the states in 2024, and still they just sit there petrified for their own political lives if they even move a muscle in that direction.

But that’s where they are, with Kev biting his nails as he watches the last few results come in that will determine whether Republicans regain the majority in the House of Representatives. Piece of advice, Kev: Don’t bother worrying yourself into sleepless nights. You’re finished as a “leader” of the loons who will take charge if the Republicans squeak-out enough victories to carry the day for the party in the House. You’ll have plenty of time to gaze at your pin-striped navel and wonder What Went Wrong.

Alternatively, you could pay another groveling visit to Mar-a-Lago and ask Mr. Indictment Himself for help corralling his MAGA minions in the House. That would make you look weak and him look strong, but if that’s the way you want to play it with 2024 looming on the horizon, more power to you. I know a few Democrats who hope you do just that.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Trump’s Amateur Sleuths Poised To Decry Another 'Stolen Election'

As Republican candidates, parties and groups are poised to legally challenge election results where they have lost or lag behind in the preliminary results, a parallel effort is underway in pro-Trump circles that likely will fabricate propaganda about illegitimate elections.

Candidates have long been able to challenge voters and ballots after Election Day during the vote count reconciliation process – called the canvass – which is before results are certified and recounts occur. But the efforts in Trump circles stand apart from these legal processes.

Trump Republicans and their allies are poised to gather “evidence” that frequently is not legally admissible in determining election outcomes, but can be exploited by propagandists to create distrust about voting, election officials, and the accuracy of voting systems.

“In some states, election deniers motivated by false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election are engaging in their own deeply flawed investigations to substantiate myths of widespread voter fraud,” reported the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School in a research paper released on Friday. “They have organized to engage in practices like amateur data matching with voter rolls, door-to-door canvassing to compare residents’ statements with voter records, and surveillance of mail ballot drop boxes. These error-ridden practices can disenfranchise eligible voters and strain election official resources.”

Among the most high-profile recent efforts has been surveillance of drop boxes in Arizona, a state where 80 percent or more of the voters cast mailed-out ballots. This effort includes taking photos and videos of individuals dropping off ballots and their car’s license plates. That tactic is among several to make the claim that legions of unregistered voters are casting ballots.

This tactic, apart from possibly intimidating voters, is an example of what the Brennan Center called an “error-ridden” practice. The address tied to a license plate may not be the same as a voter’s most recent registration information, especially if that voter recently moved.

Nonetheless, since the 2020 election, ex-Trump campaign workers and self-appointed data analysts have parsed voter rolls in swing counties in swing states to falsely claim that the rolls were rife with inaccuracies that could be exploited by Democrats to fabricate votes.

Initially, Trump activists started knocking on doors to verify if a voter’s address on their registration record was accurate, to ask if they voted in 2020 and gather personal information. That activity lead to accusations of voter intimidation by civil rights groups. Earlier this year, the focus shifted to filing mass challenges of voters’ credentials, such as in metro Atlanta in Georgia, where more than 60,000 challenges were almost entirely rejected by county election officials this past summer, who, nonetheless, had spent months investigating the complaints.

“Activists are being encouraged by those who claim the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ to perform their own amateur data matching. They are using National Change of Address lists, tax assessor data, a portal operated by government contractor Schneider Geospatial, public map services, and public voter data from multiple states to make inferences about current voter eligibility and past election legitimacy,” the Brennan Center report said. “In doing so, they are cobbling together incomplete datasets that can later become ‘evidence’ for candidates to baselessly challenge the legitimacy of the election if they lose.”

Those behind these efforts have waged recruitment drives to gather evidence for post-Election Day challenges or to generate fodder that almost certainly will be used for propaganda – filling media channels as some battleground states take more time to count their votes than others. (Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, for example, cannot start counting absentee ballots until Election Day. Florida, Arizona, and Nevada can start several weeks before.)

Whether led by ex-Trump White House officials or campaign lawyers based at Conservative Partnership Institute in Washington, or a looser collective of election deniers and self-appointed experts convened and funded by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, the ringleaders have instructed activists to use apps like Basecamp to coordinate their activities, and apps like VotifyNow to report incidents that they deem suspicious.

“In the upper left-hand corner is the menu tab that will bring up your voter integrity tools,” a VotifyNow tutorial said. “When you click on these buttons, such as mail-in ballot issues, you’ll see the app allows you to type in a brief description of any suspicious activity you notice, as well as upload a photo or video... That incident is then sent to our database to be analyzed and compared with other issues in your area.”

Needless to say, just because a citizen observer thinks that they are seeing something wrong does not mean that factually is the case, said Tammy Patrick, a senior advisor at the Democracy Fund, at a November 2 press briefing where threats to election officials were discussed.

“I’ve had some election officials tell me that these observers act like they’re going to find the body; that they are coming onto a criminal site or crime scene,” she said. “When you approach the information that way, when you don’t know what you are looking at, you’re going to find what [conspiratorial evidence] you are looking for.”

Nor are specious observations likely to be accepted as evidence in any post-Election Day administrative review or legal process. But what fails to meet a legal standard of evidence can succeed as disinformation.

“It is important to remember that all reliable evidence shows that our elections — including the 2020 election — are safe, secure, accurate, fair, and free of widespread voter fraud,” the Brennan Center said. “We cannot let these dangerous and defective schemes compromise our democracy.”

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.

Texas Attorney General Pursued Bogus Cases Against Election Workers

In the GOP-led crusade to promote groundless allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, an effort that has largely scrutinized voters,Texas attorney general Ken Paxton — election denier and afterthought to the rally that preceded January 6 — has been working an angle more extreme than his counterparts.

The top law enforcement official -- who once sneaked out of his home and fled on a truck driven by his wife to escape a subpoena -- has bared his animus against a pillar of American democracy: election workers.

An investigation by ProPublica, published Wednesday, found that Paxton, a Trump super-fan who played a key role in the ex-president’s failed 2020 coup, opened at least 390 cases into alleged electoral misconduct between January 2020 and September 2022 but secured only five election-related convictions.

Ten of those probes delved into baseless allegations of election crimes and misconduct by poll workers, many of whom, the Washington Post reported, are considering leaving their posts after a relentless barrage of right-wing harassment that has hindered their jobs and jeopardized their safety.

One of Paxton’s election-worker probes, ProPublica noted, was spurred by a Bexar County GOP chair, Cynthia Brehm, who refused to certify the results of her re-election bid after a landslide defeat to her challenge, citing an “active investigation” by Paxton’s office into the “severely compromised” results.

The publication also noted that allegations of obstructing a poll watcher were all Paxton’s office needed to open most of its election-worker probes. The shocking animosity over unfounded claims led to mass resignations by unhappy poll workers, who unwittingly undertook fending off conspiracy theories and tolerating threats of physical harm as part of the job.

Texas is one of few states that impose criminal penalties for obstructing a poll watcher, partisan volunteers monitoring election sites, including impeding the individual from moving about the polling place as they please — an “offense” that’s punishable by up to one year behind bars.

Paxton’s election-worker probe also encompassed Democratic-leaning cities, investigating election officials, some of whom are elderly citizens, with as little as complaints made by voters to go on.

According to ProPublica, Paxton had attempted to prosecute local election official Dana DeBeauvoir, who spent nearly 40 years in service of her county government., for asking a maskless poll watcher who was photographing ballots and recording polling place proceedings, both of which violated the rules, to leave the polling site.

The watcher flew into a rage, “screaming and banging on the window of the room where votes were being counted” before the police arrived and removed her from the scene, DeBeauvoir told ProPublica.

To DeBeauvoir’s shock, a county official informed her weeks later that Paxton’s office had opened a criminal investigation into her conduct. “I never felt more alone,” DeBeauvoir told the paper. “Everything that was being said was completely untrue. And I could not defend myself.”

In an unusual move, however, Paxton brought DeBeauvoir’s case before a grand jury in a conservative county, not in Travis County, where the incident took place, the publication noted. However, that grand jury declined to indict DeBeauvoir.

A representative for Paxton did not respond to requests for comment on the case.

Although Paxton’s last-ditch attempt to grasp unilateral authority to pursue criminal charges for perceived election fraud was rejected by Texas’ highest criminal court last month, the conservative provocateur has spared no effort and expense to push the Big Lie.

Despite the slew of legal issues Paxton is facing, including an FBI investigation into his alleged aiding of one of his top donors, voters will have their say in Paxton’s tenure before the courts do, as the controversial conservative is up for reelection in the midterms.

Paxton’s office didn’t respond to ProPublica’s request for comments, but his crusade against confidence in the country’s elections is still ongoing.

In Nevada, Trump Republicans Attack Veteran GOP Election Clerks

Yerrington, Nevada – For the past 24 years, Nikki Bryan -- a patient, professional, plain-spoken woman -- has overseen elections, the courthouse, and other municipal duties as the elected clerk in Lyons County, a ranching, retail, and manufacturing region of 60,000 people in northern Nevada east of Lake Tahoe.

As Bryan stood before the early voting site her staff had set up in the Lyon County Administrative Center’s foyer, with voting stations carefully placed below artwork celebrating the county’s rural culture, her voice had a touch of resignation.

Like more than half of Nevada’s county election officials since the 2020 who have resigned or decided not to run for re-election, Bryan is reluctantly retiring. There are many reasons, starting with 2021 election reforms that have increased the workload – by mailing every registered voter a ballot – and drawn criticism from voters upset that some traditional polling places had closed.

But the main reason, by far, was that local Republicans she has known for years, who supported Donald Trump and believed the 2020 election was stolen, have incessantly attacked Bryan, a Republican, on a daily basis – even after Trump beat Joe Biden two-to-one in Lyon County and 75 percent of the voters turned out.

“I don’t know what they want,” Bryan said. “I’ve done everything that I can do, and everything that I can think to do, to make everybody happy and it’s just not happening. There’s so much anger and so much distrust and so much rhetoric of things that are absolutely not true.”

Local Republicans not only believed lies that they heard from Trump and on pro-Trump media more than Bryan, a local official they knew and had re-elected for 20 years, but the lies have become articles of faith.

“People hear that [the election was stolen] and I guess they believe it because they’ve heard it over and over and over from multiple people,” Bryan said. “And I think at this point it’s not really lies. I mean, it is lies. It started with lies. But then when people believe it. They absolutely with all their soul believe there was fraud and all of that, that makes it difficult for us to try to keep the confidence in elections.”

Bryan, after nearly three and none-half decades working in the county, will retire and return to raising miniature horses, llamas, goats, and sheep on her two-and-one-half acres, focus on photography, be with her family and travel.

The traumatic close of her career is not unique. In central Nevada’s Nye County, Clerk Sandra Merlino retired this summer after 20 years in office after her county commissioners, led by Trump Republicans, wanted Merlino to hand count ballots, which she opposed. In Washoe County, where Reno the state’s second largest city is located, Registrar Deanna Spikula resigned after receiving death threats.

Even Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske, was censured by the Nevada Republican Party Central Committee in 2021 because she investigated Trump Republicans’ claims and found no evidence of voter fraud in 2020.

“Regrettably, members of my own political party have decided to censure me simply because they are disappointed with the outcome of the 2020 election,” Cegavske said. “My job is to carry out the duties of my office as enacted by the Nevada Legislature, not carry water for the state GOP or put my thumb on the scale of democracy. Unfortunately, members of my own party continue to believe the 2020 general election was wrought with fraud – and that somehow I had a part in it – despite a complete lack of evidence to support that belief.”

The appointees replacing the outgoing county clerks in Nevada’s Republican-majority rural counties include several 2020 election deniers. Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising example is Storey County’s Jim Hindle, who in 2020 signed forged Electoral College certificates in an attempt to certify Nevada’s votes for Trump.

In 2020, Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes. Hindle, who is overseeing Storey County’s 2022 general election, is expected to be elected on November 8.

National Exodus Of Experienced Clerks

Nationwide, sizable numbers of experienced election officials are leaving the profession, according to a national survey of local election officials by the Reed College’s Elections & Voting Center and the Democracy Fund, a grant-maker and voting policy hub, released on November 2.

“Among the 2022 survey participants, close to one third of the election officials are eligible to retire before the 2024 election—and 39 percent of those eligible plan to do so,” it said. The study found increased workloads in rural counties with small staffs were a factor, but also cited “abuse, harassment, or threats.”

In a Wednesday press briefing, Reed College’s Paul Gronke said that 26 percent of officials had experienced a “confrontation in the workplace,” “18 percent had reported “verbal or physical abuse,” and 14 percent had experienced “a confrontation in a public place… about what happened in your work.”

Tammy Patrick, a former Arizona election official who is a senior advisor to the Democracy Fund, recounted what one local election director told her during the research. She said, “I used to be the pillar of my community. I would walk down the street. Everybody knew me… and now I am the pariah, because of what they heard and what they believe, that I personally have abdicated my duties and undermined and stole the election.”

Patrick said she was hearing from many local officials who were determined to stay on. But there were many who simply had enough.

“There are some that are doubling down and they’re like, ‘Not on my watch. I am not abandoning my post,’” she said. “Whereas there are others that said, ‘You what, I didn’t sign on for this.’ ‘I didn’t sign on for my kids to get followed home from school.’ ‘I didn’t sign on for my voice mail or answering machine at home to be full of vitriol.’ ‘I didn’t sign on for my staff to be breaking down in the office because of the way they’re being treated.’ ‘I didn’t sign on for our local law enforcement, in some instances, to say, “well I agree with the protesters.” I agree with the individuals who are storming your office.’”

The survey found that local election officials who self-identified as Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all said that they had been targeted, with the most populous jurisdictions receiving the most threats.

Internecine Distrust In Nevada

Every state is a political microcosm. In Nevada, what stands out is that even as its rural counties have Republican-led governments, many Trump Republicans have not relented in distrusting the fellow Republicans running their elections.

“They’re more willing to believe those statements that are coming across newscasts or podcasts or through social media than they are the person that’s been in their community and committed to the process for years,” said Humboldt County Clerk Tami Rae Spero, a Republican, who has run elections in this northern county since 2003 and worked in the clerk’s office for a decade before that.

“Many people [Trump Republicans] are between a rock and hard place,” she said. “They’ve heard so much about the [in-person voting] equipment that they don’t want to use it. But they don’t want to vote the mail-in ballot either.”

It was discouraging that many doubters did not understand how elections were run, Spero said, including recent changes making it easier to vote – such as using a mailed-out ballot in a remote county where many people work in the region’s mines. Many people do not know how elections are run and are suspicious of what they don’t understand, she said, which translates into cynicism.

“The constant or virtually constant pushback from the public about something you’re committed to, and that you’ve sworn to uphold the law, has been trying,” she said. “But I have made the choice to run again. I did it because I believe that I made a commitment to the voters of this county when I first ran not to leave until I knew the job was done.”

Spero is likely to be re-elected as Humboldt County is deeply Republican. But she predicts that many voters will not believe 2022’s state and congressional results.

“Actually, the majority of our local races were determined in the primary,” she said. “But at the state level, especially with the type of secretary of state race we have this time [where the GOP nominee, Jim Marchant, is a 2020 election denier], I have the full expectation that there will not be an acceptance of whatever happens either way.”

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.